‘Prime-time’ and online advertising

The most preferred time for marketers and advertisers on Television is the ‘Prime time’. By definition it means – the time period when the television or radio audience is the largest”. Now for years, this block of programming is based on time (Evening hours between 8 PM to 11 PM) or between programming that gathers maximum eyeballs, like sports events.

One of the reasons of prime time being there, as mentioned in Wikipedia is – “Most people tend to watch television at prime time because most people who are usually tired coming home from work or school tend to watch TV, usually right after dinner…”

But, is reach of the communication the only reason for advertisers to flock across to prime time? I guess not. Literally, there is much more than what meets the eye (and when)

We all are aware that advertising works on the basis of stimulus and response.  Psychologist Daniel Gilbert in his essay “How Mental Systems Believe” theorizes about believing and unbelieving, saying that people accepts an idea/message first. Only after comprehending the message will the person think about unbelieving it. Also, Behavioral scientists say that the mind is best conditioned when it gets tired and lazy. Which means that when the brain is occupied with something and lazy to exert more work on itself, or if it is fatigued to the extent of not able to take any more cognitive work onto itself, it will rely on the fact that the idea/message they are exposed to is ‘believable’.

On analyzing few of the media campaigns, I’ve seen that the average CTR (Click through rate) – one of the standard efficacy metrics of online advertising, of the campaigns are higher during the evening periods as compared to the day-time. In some cases, it is almost double. This means that the person who is browsing online during the latter part of the day is more likely to believe in your communication and hence interacts with it. This would also mean that if a user is exposed to a non-intrusive message in a highly engaging content page, there is a high chance that he/she would believe in the message, even though they might not interact (click) with it.

As like the television, the prime time in online also seems to be either high engaging content or the evening time. Maybe it is called ‘Prime-time’ because it is the best time for priming the customer with ‘believable’ commercials.


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