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Take Advantage of Search Cycles with Ad Scheduling

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Almost everything in the universe is cyclical. The planets, the seasons, migration of birds. And search engine marketing is no different. There are many examples of the cyclical nature of search: for most non-retail advertisers, the end of the year (Nov-Dec) is the low tide for traffic; the Saturday before Christmas is the busiest internet shopping day of the year each year; overall, weekends are always slower than weekdays (most people do their searching at work); and there are even times of the day that your websites usually performs best. Google AdWords has provided one tool that allows advertisers to harness these search cycles, at least at the daily and hourly level. Ad scheduling (also known as day parting) gives advertisers the ability to drive more traffic to their site during their peak performance hours.

Why use ad scheduling? When using ad scheduling (day parting) you can increase or decrease keyword bids automatically throughout the day. For example, you may determine that your best conversion rate occurs between 12pm and 8pm. The ad scheduling feature can increase your bids by a set percentage during this time period. Or, you may find that this time frame performs extremely poorly. You could also set ad scheduling to pause your keywords during this time.

How do you determine when to pause or accelerate your bid? You can set an ad group report at the hourly level. This will show you when your conversion rate is highest and lowest. Also, you can use analytics to determine this information as well.

Setting your targeted times: Ad scheduling is established at the campaign level. Setting up ad scheduling for a campaign requires two steps. First, enable ad scheduling for any given campaign. Once ad scheduling is enabled, you choose the times when you want your ad to run. Here is a quick screen shot of the set up process:

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As you can see from the example above, I have set my ads to run from 12pm until 8pm (the boxes in green). And my ads will not display during other times of the day (the boxes in gray).

A note on time zones: The times that you chose to accelerate or pause your ads adhere to the time zone that is set for your AdWords campaign. My ads will display from 12-8pm eastern standard time. However, keep in mind that it’s not the same time everywhere. According to these settings, for example, my ads will run from 10am-6pm for searchers on Mountain Standard Time.

Always take advantage of search cycles whether they are annual, weekly, daily or even hourly. Learn when your customer is ready to fully interact with your site, and adjust your PPC settings accordingly!

About the Author

Joe

Joe is a former Account Manger at Hanapin Marketing, a search engine marketing firm focused on generating results through pay-per-click advertising.
  • http://www.portentinteractive.com michaelportent

    Ad scheduling is a fun study on the habits of your target demographic as well. Some of my clients will have as many as 5-6 targeted time breakdowns that are really effective, others will strictly search the same times every week. A little user psychology comes into play.

  • http://www.hdonlinemarketing.com Karie Kwiat

    I checked into the AdWords reporting as you suggested, but could not find an hourly report showing conversions or conversion rate. Can you explain further where I can find this data? Thanks.

  • http://www.pcchero.com Joe

    Hello Karie:

    Sure, I can explain the hourly reporting feature further. To drill down on your hourly stats, you can choose these reports:
    Account Performance
    Campaign Performance
    Ad Group Performance

    And within the View (Unit of Time) selection you can choose from 2 different options to view hourly stats.
    I hope this helps!
    Thanks!

  • http://www.internetprofitconsultants.com Matt

    Sorry Joe, but Karie has this one right.

    It’s no longer possible to find the hourly conversion data within Google Adwords. I think Google decided that this information was a bit too useful for advertisers. Why would they want to show people that their cost per conversion doubled or tripled in the early morning? If they can still make money on you advertising but you don’t make a return, well, that’s your loss. Smart move by them to not provide the information that makes this kind of decision easy.

    Anyway, back to the point: when you go to the Report Center in Adwords, when you choose View (Unit of Time) as Hourly (by date) or Hourly (regardless of date), it is impossible to get the conversion data. It is not even an option to display it.

    Actually, you can display conversion data hourly, but only if your report type is Pay-Per-Action or Placement Performance. Conveniently enough, both of these report types only show data for the Content Network. Google is trying to hide this information, pure and simple.

    Try it yourself to verify. There was also this discussion over a year ago about the fact that this doesn’t work. I guess Google is still trying to fix it ;)

    http://www.webmasterworld.com/google_adwords/3253205.htm

  • http://www.dragonsearchmarketing.com/blog Steve LaLonde

    Hi Guys,

    Matt and Kari (above) are correct. There’s a bit of a workaround to get this hourly conversion data, in Google Analytics. I wrote about it here, with instructions. It’s not a perfect fix, but can be very helpful as it shows overall AdWords – only hourly conversion data.

    http://dragonsearchmarketing.com/blog/?p=40

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