What is ad scheduling?
Ad scheduling (sometimes called day parting) offers the ability to choose specific hours and days of the week within the Google interface that you want your ads to run. Scheduling can be set at campaign level, from the 'Edit Campaign Settings' page.
When launching a campaign the default setting is for ads to run at all hours of the day, every day of the week. As a general rule of thumb, begin by setting campaigns to run at all hours at 100% bid adjustment. This is most useful at the start of a campaign as you don’t yet know which hours/days will provide the most conversions. However, after some time and with the right analysis you may find that you can effectively save the pounds for the times that count.
After your campaign has gathered enough data for analysis, try segmenting your data by time of day. By doing this you can see each metric that interests you and how it performs at certain times of the day. For example, you may see that during your peak traffic times, such as 12-3pm, that your position is slipping down and your click through rates have decreased. You could increase the bid percentage during these hours to maintain your desired position and keep steady clickthrough rates.
Equally, you may find that during certain hours your position is much higher. For example, towards the end of the day the marketplace might not be so competitive, so you can afford to lower your bids during this time to save on your cost per click.
Below is an example of how this would look in your AdWords settings:
The ‘copy to all days/weekdays’ button is very useful here. BUT before you do blanket copy to every day of the week, have another look at your data segmented by day of the week. Ensure you do this over a fairly long period of time to get a good average, and you may spot some trends. For example, in certain ecommerce industries we see an increase in impressions on Saturdays and Sundays but with a very low conversion rate. However, come Monday the conversion rates rocket, indicating that people might have been researching on the weekend and then purchasing while at work on Mondays.
What can you do with this information?
Well, by knowing that conversion rates for your business are lower on the weekend, you can save costs by cutting down the percentage multiplier of your bids during these times and increase them for when the conversions are being achieved. However, tread carefully, as mentioned above many people may be researching first and could return, so you don’t want to miss out on this traffic completely if it is likely to convert in the future. It’s worth taking a look in analytics to see the time lag from first visit to conversion, as it can sometimes be surprising.
Something else to think about is scheduling your ads to only run within your trading hours. For example, if your business only operates within strict 9-5 hours, then you could schedule your ads to only run between these hours to save on irrelevant spend and unhappy customers. However, if you have a ‘request a call back’ form on your website it could still be worth advertising at all times until you see a trend, as people could be researching in the evenings and then call the next day. It’s important to remember that the internet runs 24 hours a day, and if the customers are there then you don’t want to leave your competitors to welcome them with open arms.
Overall, it’s very important to analyse your campaign data by time of day and day of the week on a regular basis. You may find that trends don’t appear for your campaign and you want to keep the scheduling at 100% all the time. But you might just see a time where you can get more traffic at the right conversion rate, or vice versa, so it’s always worth taking a look to ensure you’re spending your budget in the right places.