Flighting Your Advertising: The Ultimate Guide

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What is flighting in advertising?

Flighting in advertising is a media purchasing strategy that alternates between periods of actively running ads and rest periods. Flighting or “flight” is the time when ads are running, while the period with no advertising is called a hiatus.

An example of flighting in advertising is a soup company might want to flight during the colder winter months and pull back spend as things start to heat up over the summer.

Why do advertisers use flighting?

Flighting is used for two main reasons – to save budget or to take advantage of seasonality.

It is most commonly used in the context of television ads, which are expensive. A brand manager might not have the budget to run continuous TV commercials all year, but still want TV to be part of a broader strategy.

The theory is that the brand will continue to receive the residual impact of the ads that ran during the flight period while in hiatus. Marketing will have an influence on sales that will last longer than the timeline of the campaign ran. The brand gets to save budget and use that money as part of an omnichannel approach, while still helping to drive new sales through TV.

Some brands have a seasonal sales cycle. For those types of brands they are going to want to save money during their slow periods and advertise more heavily when their product has higher demand. Flighting helps these brands control spend and maximize the impact of their marketing in high-demand periods.

What are flight schedules?

The schedule is cadence of the flight and hiatus periods. The key to a successful flight strategy is finding the right schedule. You could flight for 2 weeks and go on hiatus for 2 weeks or flight for 4 and hiatus for 4. Keep reading to see our research on optimal flight schedules.

Alternatives to flighting

Continuous Marketing

All things being equal, this is what Keen would recommend for the vast majority of brands. An even spend throughout the year is going to help brands see the highest return on their marketing investment.


This strategy is a mix of continuous marketing and flighting. Instead of going on hiatus, the brand lowers spend in one period and increases during the next period. This way the brand doesn’t completely lose the momentum from their campaign while maintaining some control over their budget.

The best flight schedules: Keen Research

At Keen, we help marketers plan their budgets and maximize. Using data from the Keen Platform, we took a look at different flight schedules to show the impact of these schedules on net profit.

Our case study compared three scenarios of linear TV advertising:

  • Always-on: The brand maintained a consistent advertising presence, with no hiatus periods.
  • 2-week flighting: Ads ran for two weeks, followed by a two-week hiatus.
  • 4-week flighting: Ads ran for four weeks, followed by a four-week hiatus.

2 Week Flight

4 Week Flight


The impact of going dark: We found that after a two-week hiatus, the first week of flighting generated 91% of the profit compared to the always-on strategy. However, each additional two-week period of going dark led to a 1% decline in the profit generated on the first week of flighting again. This indicates that longer hiatus periods can negatively impact profitability.

Longer hiatus periods: When comparing the 4-week flighting strategy, the first week of flighting after a four-week hiatus generated only 88% of the profit compared to the always-on strategy. This further demonstrates the quantifiable impact of “going dark for longer.”

Building equity with longer flighting periods: Although the first week of flighting after a four-week hiatus started at 88% of the profit, by the fourth week, we observed up to 95% of the profit compared to the always-on strategy. This suggests that consistent advertising activity can help brands build equity and recover potential profit losses.

The winner: Our study revealed that the 4-week flighting strategy outperformed the 2-week flighting, primarily because the long-term impact of marketing allowed brands to build equity and create more value with consistent activity.

If you are doing a flighting advertising strategy, know that you are likely going to sacrifice net profit from the channel you are flighting. What you need to decide is whether the opportunity cost from distributing the saved funds elsewhere is greater than net profit lost during your flights.

Is flighting your advertising budget the right strategy for your business?

The Keen Platform can ingest the data from your brand, pair it with 40 years of academic research and 10 years of our metadata to create a marketing mix model that predicts your future revenue.

If you are interested in using flighting or want to know what your optimal schedule should be, our models are used to run different scenarios and help you make an informed decision with your budget, in weeks, not months.

Contact us today and see how we can help.

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