The saying ‘Timing is everything‘ is a simple statement that packs a powerful truth.

Add online advertising to the list of things it applies to.

According to a study conducted by the U.K. Internet Advertising Bureau and Lightspeed Research, consumers are much more receptive to online ads during the evening.

After 6 pm, the study found that 51.6% of all consumers said they’d be likely to pay attention to ads. For comparison, only 4.6% said they’d pay attention before 9 am and only 11% said they’d be receptive from 12 noon to 2 pm.

The study also found that consumers engaged in ecommerce activity were more receptive to ads than consumers who are engaged in personal/leisurely activity such as reading the news or checking email. No surprises there.

Thanks to the power of technology, being able to schedule campaigns by time of day is an option that’s widely available but as AdAge notes, “marketers and agencies that buy [based on time of day] are not“. AdAge quotes Jeroen Matser of Tribal DDB as stating:

We know a lot about behavior, but I don’t think we are using all the
opportunities technology is offering us. There are various reasons for this, including about the current debate about
privacy and data capture, but also because simply not enough people are familiar
with what’s actually possible.

While I have no reason to doubt the validity of this study, I think it would be far more interesting to get some hard data on the impact this has on campaign performance since that would quantify how human behavior translates to ROI for advertisers. What sort of boost in effectiveness might an advertiser realize by timing campaigns to take advantage of the evening window of opportunity?

By tracking performance around this, smart advertisers might be able to maximize the efficiency of their campaigns and cut costs. On the other hand, if it becomes well-established that time adds another dimension to the value of online advertising (much as it does on, say, television), it would be interesting to see someone experiment with a pricing (and possibly inventory auction) model that incorporates this fact so that inventory served after 6 pm is sold at a higher price than inventory served at less desirable times.

Photo credit: RBerteig via Flickr.