A Blog by Jonathan Low


Apr 16, 2016

Online Ads Late At Night Attract Growing Market

Aimed at those for whom letting go is just not an option. JL

Charlie Wells reports in the Wall Street Journal:

Companies pick up a consumer’s “digital body language,” discerning how people are using phones, social media, video platforms, and Web browsers. (In) a 2016 survey of  women 81% reported keeping their phones near their beds at night. Late-night online advertising may catch consumers when they are more prone to spend. Taco Bell is testing late-night messages about breakfast to see if they can tempt people, breaking  their morning routines
Mobile and social-media advertising is trying a new frontier: late, late night.
Marketers are posting videos, photos and messages after bedtime on Facebook, FB -1.08 % YouTube, Twitter TWTR 0.29 % and Instagram, tailored for phone addicts who wake up in the wee hours and check their social media. The tone is quirky, a chance for companies to be creative without going big-budget. And a drowsy, captive audience can enjoy some slightly off-kilter humor, the thinking goes.
“It reminds me a lot of the advertising that you used to get sold on traditional TV on overnight,” says Laura Beaudin, a partner who works in customer strategy and marketing at consulting firm Bain. “If you’re up at 2 o’clock in the morning because you can’t sleep, that is all you’re doing. You’re not doing stuff with your kids at the same time or making dinner at the same time, you’re a bit more of that captive audience.”
In a 17-second video on its Facebook page, Pepto-Bismol features the “Peptocopter,” a helicopter that zooms out of an elevator and into a corporate meeting. The Peptocopter then delivers Pepto-Bismol via a parachute to a businessman with an upset stomach. Like many late-night videos, the plot is silly, something a customer might actually want to share with his or her friends on social media. It was most recently posted at 12:01 a.m. Eastern time.

Shaaz Nasir, a 27-year-old from Ottawa, Canada, has gotten sucked into late night online ad-viewing. The former management consultant who now runs Mindthis Magazine often gets notifications from his staff around the globe, at all hours. “I’ll get a ding at 3 a.m. from someone from Tokyo,” he says. “At that point, my phone’s open, and I’m going to check Facebook. Then I figure I might as well check my email. Then, a half an hour later, I’m like, ‘Oh my goodness, I need to sleep.’”

Mr. Nasir says that occasionally he’ll interact with ads—mostly for airlines—that he sees on his mobile phone at that time.
“You’ve got your guard down,” he says. “Really, we’re dreaming. And if an airline wants us to dream of somewhere and of escaping our reality, I can see how that makes sense.”
Traditionally, advertisers market to consumers during the day. Online, many companies have tended to follow a predictable marketing pattern, posting to social media in the morning, at noon, and then at night as people are leaving for work. According to Scott Heimes, chief marketing officer at SendGrid, an email-technology company, 70% of clients’ marketing emails are sent during normal hours, and 30% during off-peak hours.
Meera Patel says she is now surrounded by after-hours digital advertising. The 24-year-old Londoner is in a long-distance relationship with a boyfriend in Toronto, and often burns the midnight oil so the two can have a phone call at the end of the day. Once, late at night, Ms. Patel saw a sponsored tweet for McDonald’s. MCD 0.21 % The post worked so well, she says, that it prompted her to leave home that night and head to a nearby, 24-7 Golden Arches. It was December.
Other food and beverage companies have made similar moves. Folgers Coffee released the “Wakin’ Up Alarm Clock” app in 2013, which acts not just as a digital reveille, but also presents users with inspiring messages, shareable on social media. Last December, Taco Bell posted a Facebook photo that combined tacos, emoji, and a nudge to use the company’s app. That was around 1:00 a.m. Eastern time. Other early morning posts by Taco Bell focus on an event several hours away: breakfast.
Taco Bell is testing out late-night messages about breakfast to see if they can tempt people the next morning, possibly breaking into their morning routines, says Jozlynn Rush, social and digital experience manager at Taco Bell.
British clothing retailer Asos has made a habit recently of posting pictures of junk food on Instagram at around 11 p.m. in the U.K.—a branding message that aims to appeal to its 20-something consumer.
Ms. Patel says she also often comes across flash sales late online for beauty products, cheap flights, and inexpensive clothing.
The late-night sweet spot for advertisers involves thinking not just about time of day, but also about what role a consumer is playing on the 24-hour clock, says Kevin Akeroyd, general manager and senior vice president for Oracle ORCL -0.53 % Marketing Cloud. Companies can do this by picking up on a consumer’s “digital body language,” he says, by discerning how people are using their phones, social media, video platforms, and Web browsers. Then, firms can target messages that might be more relevant for a person’s role. A consumer “could be a soccer mom at noon, the CEO of her business at 5, and in ‘just me time’ at midnight,” he says.
Women having that sort of “just me time” late in the evenings seem to be forming a key demographic for late-night advertisers. According to a 2016 online survey of 500 women by consumer-research firm Influence Central, 81% reported keeping their phones near their beds at night, an increase from 62% in 2012.
Many Procter & Gamble Co. PG 0.35 % products that cater to women have begun posting on social media in the early morning hours. On the Facebook page for skin-care brand Olay, a video that received over 6,000 views and time-stamped at 12:18 a.m. Eastern time in January shows two women leaving a yoga class comparing weekend schedules. The caption: “Your social calendar might show your age. With Olay, your skin never will.”
Gillette Venus razors often posts to Facebook at midnight Eastern time, with one GIF-like video featuring a woman’s legs and a flowing dress that logged over 8 million views. Gillette’s Facebook page for men doesn’t show a late-night video.
Late-night online advertising may catch consumers at a time when they are more prone to spend, says Klodiana Lanaj, an assistant professor at the University of Florida Warrington College of Business who has studied the effects of late-night work-related emails on quality and quantity of sleep.
“Being approached by a company might hurt your sleep because you’re thinking about what to buy and whether you should buy it,” she says. “On the other hand, you might also be more likely to buy because you don’t have the inhibitions you had not to spend money.”
According to Dr. Lanaj, the pool of mental resources we have to make decisions shrinks as we use them throughout the course of the day.


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