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How marketers are reaching out to night owls

How marketers are reaching out to night owls Neal Leavitt

For many marketers, the Holy Grail is still that 18-to-34-year old demographic, the largest workforce in the U.S. -- more than a third of total employees according to the Pew Research Center. And many of these Millennials -- and older folks lumped into other demographics (35-54, etc.) -- also burn the midnight oil.

So what's a marketer to do? How can you effectively reach that potential customer who's still up at 3 a.m. and may be watching a late night talk show and/or roaming around online?

The potential is enormous. CNBC, for instance, reported that the cost per thousands (CPM) for ads on digital late-night clips has increased 5-8 percent since 2011. Costs for digital ads and TV are measured differently, noted CNBC, but a number of media buyers indicated that "the price to buy a commercial to reach an audience of the same size on each respective platform is practically identical."

Digital platforms are also providing opportunities to not only glean instant feedback, but the ability to build substantial fan bases and connections. And they can range from traditional brands to rather off-beat campaigns.

A blog by ZOG Digital, a Phoenix-based digital marketing agency, talked about one of these launched by "Last Week Tonight" host John Oliver that skewered big tobacco companies. The campaign ran across multiple platforms, including YouTube and Twitter, and even featured a mascot -- Jeff the Diseased Lung, which Oliver volunteered to give gratis to Philip Morris. The Twitter messaging was heavily geared toward -- community involvement -- #JeffWeCan.

And according to Kevin Akeroyd, GM/senior VP for Oracle Marketing Cloud, understanding how to reach all those late night owls also involves figuring out a consumer's day.

"A consumer could be a soccer mom at noon, the CEO of her business at 5, and 'just me time' at midnight," said Akeroyd.

In fact, consumer-research firm Influence Central recently did an online survey of 500 women. One key finding -- 81 percent have their phones by the bed at night, up from 62 percent in 2012.

Added Klodiana Lanaj, assistant professor at the University of Florida Warrington College of Business, "Being approached by a company might hurt your sleep because you're thinking about what to buy and whether you should buy it. 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."

Marketers have stepped up creating/distributing after bedtime videos, messages and photos on everything from Instagram to Facebook. Some of these have been quite innovative. One example -- Taco Bell social and digital experience manager Jozlynn Rush said the company is currently experimenting sending out messages during the wee hours about breakfast -- it wants to lure people to come in and spend some dinero once the sun comes up.

Rapid City, SD-based digital marketing agency Midwest Marketing provided a cogent analysis on why late night advertising can be so appealing for marketers and their brands:

"It's live, there's fresh content every day, and it's highly relevant. How those qualities and translate across viewers and digital platforms is currently playing out. We'll just have to watch and see."

Neal established Leavitt Communications in 1991. He brings to clients a unique blend of more than 25 years of marketing communications and journalism expertise. He received his Bachelor of Arts degree in communications from UC-Berkeley and a Master...

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