Using Ad Scheduling in Google Adwords

by Nick DiPietro on May 6, 2011

in Search

Why should you care about ad scheduling?  Because you can reduce your Cost Per Lead (CPL), improve your conversions rates AND make the client happy.  I imagine that most search marketers are aware that both Bing and Google allow you to control when during the day your ads appear and on which days.  However, I’m curious to know how many of them actually use it?  It can be one of the many settings that are often overlooked.   If you run campaigns that convert evenly throughout the day, every day at your desired CPL, read no further and give yourself a pat on the back. You are awesome/not of this world and hopefully you’re being compensated appropriately for it.  For those of you still reading, here is what I’ll explore…

-Where to find the time related data

-How to interpret the data

-How to adjust your scheduling

Oh, and I’ll be focusing on Google Adwords only. Sorry, Bing.  So let’s do this.

Ad scheduling is something you cannot guess at.  Unless you are dealing with a time-sensitive product or business, you really don’t know what times are best for your campaigns without data.  You need enough data to determine the trends that will emerge during the course of your campaigns.  A month or two should be sufficient to determine trends, i.e. hours of the day that convert best for you, days of the week etc.  If your campaign has been in market for a while, great. But if you’re just getting started, use the “show ads all days and hours” setting, then optimize accordingly once you have enough data.  If your budget doesn’t allow for such frivolousness, get a better client (joke) or just do your best to maximize quality exposure.

Where to Find the Data

So where can you find these ever-so-elusive time related metrics?  Find the campaign you are interested in analyzing, and then click on the Dimensions tab.  If the Dimensions tab isn’t showing, click the little drop down box and check the Dimensions tab.  See:

Google provides Hour of Day and Day of Week reporting within the Dimensions tab at the campaign level.   One thing to note when considering hour of the day reports: the hours in the report are consistent with the Time Zone selected in your Account Preferences.  So say your Account’s time zone is set to Pacific, but your campaign is targeting a state in the Central Time zone, the Hour of Day View will still be Pacific Time – important tidbit for data interpretation.

Once you are in the Dimensions tab, navigate over to the gray View box and click the drop down to see your available Views.

How to Interpret the Data

Using one of our accounts as an example, I have pulled the Hour of the Day view to determine what times are most efficient in terms of conversions, CPL ($150 goal) and conversion rate.  See the screenshot below.

You’ll notice the hour of the day are expressed on a 24-hr clock.  Each hour is representative of the time between that hour.  For example, hour 3 represents the time between 3AM – 4AM.  In the screenshot above, I created the red boxes to illustrate what times jump out as being inefficient for conversions and CPL.  Now that I have determined what times to exclude, I can do just that.

How to Adjust Your Ad Scheduling

Navigate to the settings tab, and under Advanced settings you will find Ad scheduling, click the Edit link.

 

There are two modes you can use within the Ad schedule:

Basic – which only allows you to adjust what hours and days you want to target.

Or

Bid Adjustment – which allows you to adjust you bidding by percentages during your targeted hours of each day.

Using the previous campaign example, this is what the ad scheduling using the bidding adjustment mode would look like:

Take into account that 100% means that you’re bids will remain the same as you have them currently set within the campaign.  Going below or above 100% will decrease or increase your bids by the indicated percentage.  For example, if you use 120% bid adjustment during a particular time frame expect your maximum cost-per-click CPC bids to increase by 20% during that time.  The reason for bid adjustments? To stay competitive, especially during times when your conversions are known to be highest.  Conversely, you can lower your bids during times that don’t convert as well.  Furthermore, if certain days aren’t working for you, you can exclude them by simply selecting the “Not Running” radio button.

Well, that about does it.  If you have any questions, please feel free to post them below and I’ll make sure to respond to them!

{ 10 comments… read them below or add one }

Morgan Siem May 6, 2011 at 9:46 am

Great post, Nick. Don’t laugh at me for relating everything to social media, but here I go again… I like how it mirrors the way that when we start working with a new client, we get a feel for what days of the week and what times of day are most impactful to post tweets and other status updates. Depending on the industry, there is a variation in the best times to post. Once we have enough data we can optimize our efforts and start scheduling status updates to post at the ideal times. Gotta love data!

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Dan London May 6, 2011 at 10:02 am

if you don’t use ad scheduling, you don’t know PPC.

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Nick DiPietro Nick DiPietro May 6, 2011 at 10:03 am

Thanks Morgan. Great point. Yeah, time related data can really go a long in way in influencing strategy for each respective marketing channel.

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Michael Hubbard Michael Hubbard May 6, 2011 at 10:21 am

This is awesome Nick – nice write up! If you aren’t using this type of scheduling, this is a real good tutorial as to how to get up and running on it immediately. Do you have any high-level case study data that you could share as a follow up? Something like “x” account didn’t do this, and then you implemented it, and you saw “x”% increase in ROI? I’d love to give people a real good grasp of why this is so important without sharing our customer data that is :) .

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Nick DiPietro Nick DiPietro May 6, 2011 at 10:37 am

Oh Michael, I know you too well. I actually have that data handy, based on the example I provided in the post. The comparison includes a time period of 39 days of no ad scheduling to the next 39 days with ad scheduling implemented for the same campaign. Now keep in mind its not a true 1 to 1 comparison considering the variances in optimizations (keywords, ads etc.) during the two time frames, but the results are telling nonetheless. It’s also important to point out the offer remained the same during the 78 days. Here’s what we saw:
55% increase in conversion volume
12% decrease in CPL
13% increase in conversion rate

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Morgan Siem May 6, 2011 at 2:01 pm

That kicks ass :)

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Nick DiPietro Nick DiPietro May 6, 2011 at 10:39 am

Oh, another important note that I forgot to mention. The budget remained the same.

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Michael Hubbard Michael Hubbard May 6, 2011 at 8:59 pm

Nice work man! Love to see it – keep up the great work, and appreciate you sharing the post!

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Cassie Stox May 18, 2011 at 2:39 pm

Great post! Very informative. I’m putting this to use ASAP!

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arie February 8, 2013 at 11:23 pm

Hi
It’s a good article, I’m still missing the time zones issue for national campaigns.. does Google serve based on my account time zone or based on time zones they serve?
Thank you!

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