5 Tips To Save Money & Generate Additional Revenue with Ad Scheduling

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I know that ad scheduling/day parting isn’t new to PPC, but I was recently at a marketing conference where the speaker mentioned he used ad scheduling for nearly every one of his clients. This got me thinking: why I don’t use ad scheduling more often or at least run a few daily/hourly reports to see if it’s a good idea?

If you’re thinking about doing any kind of ad scheduling or day parting, there are a few tips you should follow before deciding to turn off your ads or even simply adjust your bids on a particular day of the week or time of day.

1. Run the right reports: Running the right reports is essential before you make any decisions on ad scheduling. If you’re running a lead-based account only, you should be looking at the amount of PPC spend versus the number of leads you’re generating for a particular day or hour.

However, If you’re managing an ecommerce client you’ll want to track the amount of PPC spend versus the amount of revenue you’re generating for a particular day/hour.

For either type of client, it may also be a good idea to determine which day or hour you’re generating a higher cost-per-lead.  If there are a few hours in the middle of the night where you’re finding your CPL to be too high, you can adjust your bids automatically to decrease during those hours, and increase back up to normal all other hours. But we’ll talk about that strategy in a few minutes.

2. Large sample size:  Another tip is to be sure when you’re running reports that you’re pulling enough data over a long period of time to get a large enough sample size. Pulling data for the past few months may be okay for some accounts that spend a lot of money and generate a lot of leads during that time. But for other accounts, you may have to go back much further than that. Even for clients that do generate a lot of revenue/leads and spend a lot, I go back as far as I can.

3. Look at multiple metrics: When it comes to a lead based account, your main focus may be on amount of spend versus actual lead generation and that’s okay. But perhaps look at some of your other metrics too like cost-per-lead, and click-through rate. We know that low click-through rates can drag down your overall account Quality Score. You may be surprised to see that during a few hours in the early morning your PPC ads are spending, not converting, but are also generating a very high click-through rate. If that is the case you may not want to pause those ads during those hours or you may see a drop in Quality Score. Instead of pausing ads entirely during those hours use the bid adjustment setting so your max CPC bid is set to only 50% of what it would normally show at, meaning your position would drop and you would receive much less traffic and generate less spend, but you’re ads would still be showing and your click-through rate may or may not drop any further.

4. Adjust bids by the hour: When thinking about ad scheduling, I would stick with adjusting your PPC keyword bids by the hour before making adjustments by the day. Lowering your keyword bids by the hour is going to make less of an impact than lowering your keyword bids on a particular day, for an entire day. So start off small, then work you way up to larger changes that could make more of an impact on your accounts performance.

5. Auto increase bids: By dropping your bids automatically during less profitable hours of the day, you can also increase your bids automatically in the same fashion. During peak times of the day where traffic is high and leads and/or revenue is good you can set your bids to increase during those times only to maximize your PPC revenue.

To get ad scheduling going, begin running your reports. For a lead generation report by hour you’re going to have to use Google Analytics.  If you’re tracking revenue, you can go into your Analytics account and select the revenue section, then total revenue. Above the graph and below the date range there are small icons you can click on that will give you revenue data by the hour, day, week and month. Click on the first icon to view revenue by the hour.

rev by hour

To set up ad scheduling after you’ve run your reports, simply click on the campaign, click settings and under ‘advanced settings:  schedule, start date, end date, ad scheduling’ click on edit.

campaign settings

You can then switch back and forth from basic mode, which is pausing your ads during either full days or certain times during the day, or you can select bid adjustment mode which allows you to either increase or decrease your bids during certain days or hours of the day.

ad scheduling settings

I think ad scheduling and day parting, when done correctly can truly help increase an account’s performance.  Not only can it help minimize spend during non profitable hours of the day, but it can help increase profitability when search and conversion times are peaking throughout the day.

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  • http://richardfergie.com Richard Fergie

    I don’t know for sure, but I think Google take into account the time of day when calculating quality score; I think that if you have a very high CTR at night but not in the day then the quality score would be high at night and low in the day. They do monitor account performance based on time of day; this is one of the main selling points for their conversion optimiser bidding strategy.

    A higher CTR at night could be caused by a competitors day parting strategy. If they are not running their ads at night or if they reduce their bids then I’d expect a higher CTR.

  • http://adwordsdisasters.blogspot.com Matt

    I’ve been gathering data during the past few days to process a daily and hourly CPL, which is very hard to reckon. Amber I’d be glad to know how you manage to calculate this, as I’ve been trying hard myself:
    – Cost-wise, no problem: just edit a daily and hourly report in Adwords for instance, you get the data you need
    – Lead-wise: this is much harder as we’ve only got Analytics & Adwords tracking. The hourly report of transactions in Analytics does not let you segment by day of the week, which means you have to select a particular day (say Monday) and compare it to another Monday in the past to double check the recurrence of data.
    And in Adwords, there’s no such thing as a hourly report for conversions, which means in both ways you’re stuck with relative data such as conversion rate. I mean, this is not bad but anyone can be missing the point somewhere: say your customers show up massively in the evening, and you get a lower CTR + conv. rate because of the increased competition, you can be missing that particular moment in the day when volumes are peaking. That’s why it’s always crucial to keep some absolute data when analyzing your day-parting.

    Also remember you can’t set up more than 6 bid modulations per day in Adwords…

  • http://richardfergie.com Richard Fergie

    @matt I have blogged about trying to get that information out of Analytics at http://www.seoptimise.com/blog/2008/11/google-analytics-advanced-segmentation.html

    An additional point that I don’t think I made in my post is that Google Analytics will record the conversion at the time the conversion happened when what you want is what time the click was made. This probably won’t make much difference so I wouldn’t worry too much about it unless you have good reason to.