Last week, I looked at some research from Google into where and when people are using tablet devices such as iPads. The research showed that tablets are a multi-tasking device that rarely leave the home, but are used in different ways at different times - which may change the ways and means you deliver campaigns to those devices.
Yet, this is actually true of all market behavior and all businesses have specific time periods in which they are more profitable than others. So, as promised, here is a guide to setting up dayparting on your Google AdWords campaigns.
To Everything (Even AdWords) There is a Season
My neighbors in Champagne Valley, South Africa run one of the area’s most successful tourist attractions: the Falcon Ridge Birds of Prey Center. Every day (except Monday and Friday) at 10:30am (weather permitting), Greg and Alison McBey entertain and educate dozens of visitors with their descriptions and demonstrations of the habits and flying skills of their birds of prey. I asked Alison about their decision to hold only five shows a week.
The McBeys discovered that Monday and Friday mornings couldn’t deliver profitable crowds to their shows. On Friday mornings, weekday tourists are already returning home, while weekenders haven’t yet arrived. Reverse that for Monday mornings. Saturday, Sunday, and Tuesday through Thursday, on the other hand, their shows are packed.
And why 10:30am? In the summer, the sun generally burns off the morning clouds by 9am, and the thunderstorms don’t start until noon or 1pm. Out of 168 hours in a week, Falcon Ridge discovered its 5 most profitable hours – and built a successful and mostly stress-free business out of that discovery.
How About Your AdWords Account?
Chances are, your AdWords account is working too many hours for its (and your) own good. You might object that your AdWords account is a totally passive entity once you’ve set it up, and that it’s no skin off your nose if it runs 24/7. Thanks to automated processes, you get to sleep while AdWords works on your behalf.
True. I’m not arguing that your campaigns need to rest. Instead, I invite you to explore the AdWords Dimensions tab to discover if your account is hiding any negative-ROI hours of operation.
Just as Falcon Ridge realized that Monday and Friday mornings weren’t worth the effort, you may find some of your campaigns losing money on a predictable and reliable basis at certain hours of the day.
Here’s how to check:
From within your AdWords account, select a campaign and navigate to the Dimensions tab. Click the View:Time button and select Time:Hour of Day from the Drop Down Menu.
You’ll see a data table something like this one:
Hour 0 means midnight to 1am, Hour 6 means 6-7am, etc. You’ll notice that from 2-5am, this campaign has spent over $400 on clicks (almost 300 of them) and generated absolutely no conversions. That’s a pretty good indication that it should be shut off during those hours. Here’s how to do that. Go to the campaign settings page and scroll down to "Advanced Settings" and click the Schedule: Start date, end date, ad scheduling link to expand that section.
Click the 'Edit' link next to Ad Scheduling: Show ads all days and hours to show the scheduling chart (below).
In basic mode, as shown above, you can turn the campaign on or off during any given 15-minute time period. Clicking the "Bid Adjustment" link gives you the option to lower or raise bids, in addition to just switching the campaign off. Let’s keep it simple for now and just turn the campaign off between 2 and 5 am each day.
Click Running all day in the Monday row to bring up the following dialog box:
To turn the campaign off between 2 and 5am, change the box to look like this:
Get the second row to appear by clicking "+ Add another time period". Then copy the Monday settings to all days, click the "OK" button, and you’re done. Your new schedule looks like this:
If you’re happy with the way it looks, click the "Save" button at the bottom left to apply your scheduling changes.
If you want your AdWords account to fly like an eagle, make sure you aren’t acting like an ostrich when it comes to the Dimension of Time of Day. Otherwise, you might fall victim to the sly fox who does pay attention to these metrics.
Advanced Time of Day Optimization
My colleague Joel McDonald takes time of day several steps further. If you’re a high-volume AdWords user, and your productivity depends on what your visitors are doing during certain hours of the day (their day, not yours), you might want to take things a step further than simply day parting (the technical term for what we just taught you to do).
Falcon Ridge has to take into account just one time zone. But if your business is national or global, it’s always 10:30am somewhere. Fortunately, AdWords gives you the tools to manage multiple time zones – if you know where to look and how to deploy them.
For example, let’s say that you know that people only search for your product during work-hours – their work hours – not yours. A savvy advertiser in the Eastern US time zone might run ads only between 8am and 9pm to accommodate all 3 time zones in the continental US.
Much better than nothing, but it’s still a bit messy: their ads are showing too early in Sacramento and too late in Providence. To solve that problem, you can use a “campaign cloning” procedure to run three identical campaigns, each one targeting a different time zone. That way, you wouldn’t be wasting a single hour of productive advertising time, no matter what your prospect’s time zone.