SilverDisc Blog

1st September 2015

Is There A Significant Relationship Between Clicks, Conversions And The Lunar Cycle?

Okay, stick with me on this one, I promise I have a point and it might even revolutionise the way you approach online marketing.  Alternatively it might turn out to be the ramblings of a slightly eccentric Anthropologist...  intrigued?

I’m going to set this out a little like a scientific report – old habits die hard!  But hopefully this format will easily set out exactly what I wanted to achieve by asking this simple question:

Is there a significant relationship between clicks, conversions and the lunar cycle?

So what made me ask this question? Well, the lunar cycle has long been known to affect human behaviour, and so why shouldn’t it apply to the world of online marketing?  We’re much more attached to our hominin roots than we think after all, and so I see no logical reason why this question shouldn’t be briefly explored.

  • Around the full moon, the time taken to fall asleep increased by 5 minutes, and the total sleep duration was reduced by 20 minutes.
  • The link between the moon and mental illness has been called the ‘Transylvania effect’ – showing that certain behaviours co inside with the lunar cycle (particularly with psychopathology in schizophrenia decreasing around the time of a full moon).
  • Meal sizes increase and alcohol consumption decreases near a full moon.
  • Myocardial infarctions (heart attacks) increase around the time of a new moon.
  • Births increase around the time of a new moon.
  • Emergency room visits for animal bites increase near a full moon.
  • Aggressive human behaviour increases around the time of a full moon, with more homicides, assaults and fatal traffic accidents.

To cut a long story short, the moon is responsible for fluctuations in ocean tides and Earth tides, and a number of animals on Earth, including humans, have adapted to them.  It’s not a coincidence that we get tired every night.  And what about 29.5 days, a ‘lunar month’, which is the period of time it takes for the moon to complete the cycle of its phases, and happens to be the average length of time for a woman’s menstrual cycle.  These things aren’t coincidences.

So, what about PPC?

The experiment:

I chose to focus on one client, who’s relatively large account has been with us for over a year.  I also made sure that all the ads were running at all hours of the day, every day. 

I looked into the number of clicks and converted clicks on the days of a new moon and a full moon from the beginning of the year (in total, a 7 month period).

I then subjected this data to a series of analytical investigations. 

The results:

I used a non-parametric test to address the relationship between the full moon data, and the new moon data: a two-tailed Mann-Whitney U Test.

 

 

Statistical significance measured to p

For clicks p = 0.70394.  For converted clicks p = 0.79486.  This shows that there wasn’t a statistically significant relationship between the new moon and full moon data, in fact, not even close.  However, this doesn’t necessarily mean that there isn’t something going on (although I must admit it was a little disheartening).  It was clear from the above table that the new moon data seemed to sit higher than the full moon data.  So I chose to look into a few averages.

 

This shows an 18.8% increase in clicks for a new moon, and a 14.3% increase in converted clicks for a new moon!  

Now that’s more like it.  So although it isn’t statistically significant, it seems that there might be something going on. 

So the next question is why.  Why are people almost 20% more likely to click an ad on Google around the time of a new moon?

The analysis:

Unfortunately when it comes to tests like this there are a number of factors that I wouldn’t have been able to control, which is no doubt why the results weren’t statically significant.  When thinking about it a little more deeply, the customer basis for the chosen account would have been mainly female, and in the UK approximately 3.5 million woman take the contraceptive pill.  This means that their natural hormones are effectively being overrun – meaning they aren’t naturally cycling with the moon.  This would inevitably affect my results. 

Not just this though, we are becoming increasingly disconnected from the ‘natural’ world. Even something as simple as looking at the screen of your tablet before going to sleep reduces your melatonin levels by around 23%, fooling your brain into thinking its bright outside when it’s not.  If something as simple as that can change our biological perceptions, then it’s no wonder we’ve become detached from something as blindingly obvious as the moon.

What gives me hope though is the averages – that potentially we are almost 20% more likely to click on paid advertising during a new moon, and 14% more likely to convert.   It suggests to me the tiniest hint that humans are still exactly that – primates that interact and respond with our natural environment.  What this doesn’t tell me is why, and considering the small scale this was done on, it tells me to keep my feet firmly on the ground, as these percentages are merely speculations.

But what does this mean for online marketing? Well, perhaps you could consider increasing bids around the time of a new moon, even if just very slightly to see if it might affect your campaign.  Please be cautious though - this is by no means solid evidence.  Website changes, new ads, increased competition, seasonality etc., will all affect clicks and conversions much more directly than the moon.  Hopefully though this has opened your eyes to the many factors, both online and offline that might affect your marketing campaign, thus adding to the delicate nature of paid marketing and the number crunching that comes with it.

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