After nine months of working from home, afternoon coffee runs have become my family’s Polaris during many chaotic days of balancing work needs with those of young children. It’s provided us a daily pause to reset and a boost to make it through the afternoon, and we’ve increased our visits from a couple times a week to often more than five.

Over this time, I’ve realized a few things:

  • Consumer habits are largely unpredictable and often forged by outside factors.
  • We didn’t suddenly become more frequent visitors because of a clever app, timely email or seasonal promotion (but all of that didn’t hurt).
  • With enough dedication, one of your two-year old’s first multi-word phrases can be “cake pop.”

In advertising, consistency can be demonstrated by the concept of adstock, which, simply put, suggests that the longer your ads are out of market the more heavy lifting you will need to do when you go back in again. What goes up must come down, including your awareness levels. The theory is based on TV buying but can its principles help with digital strategy?

Your customers (probably) don’t care about your marketing calendar

In digital, we benefit from incredibly granular targeting that allows us to distill complicated customer profiles into buying platform checkboxes. But while budgets can scale up or down easily, applying adstock theory can help us find a balance between maximizing spend during key activity windows and spreading our budget too thin for too long.

When brands limit themselves to only a few advertising pushes a year, no matter what mediums they choose, they’ll likely spend the first few weeks reintroducing their brand. “Hey everyone, remember us?” Even those brands in industries with strong seasonality risk missing out on new clients if their focus is too narrow. People still buy RRSPs in the summer and need mortgages in the winter, for example.

Using a smart, always-on strategy as a baseline for marketing efforts can help maintain a year round presence and ensure you’re speaking to potential customers on their terms. Best of all, if there’s a distinct off season where interest drops for your product or service, your in-market targeting should scale down in spend based on a reduced audience demand. If there’s truly no one looking, there’s no one clicking your search ads. Plus, if your competitors aren’t advertising at this time, in digital’s auction environment, it means it’s even cheaper to speak to these customers.

While it makes sense to concentrate media spend around key times, starting with an always-on strategy as a building block will limit the decay effect of going out of market for extended periods and provide a bridge between larger flights to help keep your brand top of mind.