You may think that you have done everything correctly before launching your mobile advertising campaign: proper user targeting, high-end creative, engaging copy. But, if your campaign is running when no one will notice it, all of that hard work could be for nothing. 

At StartApp, we recently took a look inside of our data to get an idea of when users are most likely to interact with mobile advertising throughout the day. Focusing on the US and UK specifically, we saw that the click-through rates (CTR) for mobile ads fluctuated a lot during the day which could have a big impact on the success of mobile burst campaigns.

For both the US and the UK, our data found that CTR for in-app advertisement is the highest during the morning hours. In the US, the peak is between 6 and 9am with CTRs of 16-18%. For the UK, the peak is between 5 and 6am with CTRs of about 20%.

Both countries saw another spike with in-app ad engagement around midday (11am-1pm) with CTRs between 8-9%. From there, CTR steadily declined to around 5-6% through the end of the workday (5pm) and stayed relatively steady throughout the night with the exception of a bump in the UK around 10pm to a rate of 7%.

In the context of a normal workday, these CTR fluctuations can tell a story for when users are most likely to be engaged with their favourite apps. In the morning, users are using their apps to prepare for the day ahead or to keep them entertained during their morning commutes. At midday, users are taking a break for lunch and have some time to check in with their apps before heading back to work. As the day comes a close, users could be less involved with their mobile devices as they unwind with family and friends or engage in other evening and nighttime offline activities.

By timing your mobile ad campaigns to run more frequently during these peak engagement hours, you can increase your chance of getting your ads in front of users and increasing the chance for conversions. 

Based on these results, there are a few things that marketers can take away:

Vary your ad spend throughout the day

As the results show, in-app advertisements don’t engage users consistently throughout the day. You can increase CTR for ad campaigns by simply increasing ad spend for in-app ads at peak engagement times throughout the day, which in this case are the morning hours and midday hours for both the US and the UK.

Don’t ignore your data

Running mobile advertising campaigns is never as simple as submitting a campaign and sitting back to see the results. The best advertisers are always making small adjustments to boost performance. Always review your data to see where and how you can improve campaigns to reach better users and boost engagement and conversions.

When running a campaign in the US or UK, review your campaign data to see how your performance matches up with the data seen above. If your campaigns don’t see any bumps in CTR during peak hours, it is worth revisiting your campaigns and testing new creatives or copy to try to take advantage of engaged audiences. 

Take human behaviour into consideration

When optimising mobile campaigns, don’t discount the importance of the user’s day-to-day routine. 

While it is impossible to nail down exactly where and when a user will interact with in-app advertising, you can still aim to increase CTRs for your campaign by taking the arc of an average person’s day into consideration when allocating spending. As we saw above, the changes in user engagement with in-app ads tended to correspond to the standard person’s workday, with higher engagement in the morning and early afternoon which could correspond to morning commutes to work and midday lunch breaks.

Optimisation is nothing without proper targeting

If your ads are being shown to the wrong group of users, it won’t matter what time of day the ads are seen.

Before even starting a campaign, have your target group of users in mind and set up the proper targeting parameters to make sure only the most relevant users will be exposed to your ad. 

When you can combine effective targeting with users’ mobile usage and engagement patterns, you can take the success of your campaign to the next.