Last week I took the Metro at 7am to get to work for an early meeting.  Looking around at the crowd on the train at a time more than an hour earlier than I usually get on – two things were apparent.  First, the people looked sleepier.  And second, the crowd was clearly older on average than those who took the train at my usual hour of about 8:30.  The experience got me thinking about the role that dayparting could have in the future of targeted marketing.  For those unfamiliar with the term, dayparting essentially refers to a method which I believe was first pioneered by search marketers began with broadcast television and radio to describe their practice of changing the rotation of ads depending on the time of day that they ran.  So in the morning, you might get served a different ad than if you are browsing at lunchtime.

For search marketing, this is easily possible because it’s a self service way of placing ads.  Most other online advertising is purchased based on site demographics, however what many fewer online networks and websites seem to be accounting for is how site demographics might change depending on the time of day.  When you think about other forms of advertising like outdoor billboards, you can’t realistically change most billboards to suit whomever is driving by.  But you could change them by time of day (for the right price).  Dayparting is possible offline as well as online – for the right publisher to come along and offer it to advertisers.