Paid Search Peak Times: Gain Hourly Insights About Your Competitors

Paid search marketing is a 24/7 industry. Even when you’re sleeping, someone, somewhere is searching. That’s what we all love about paid search. It’s a dynamic, always on game that we get to play.

This idea of “always on” got me thinking, is my competition “always on?” What impact does their strategy have on my results?

So often we focus on our own results that we forget this is a dynamic marketplace, and auction. Everyone is working to get the best placement, at the cheapest cost. The action of others in the paid search ecosystem directly impacts your ability to achieve your goals.

With that in mind, I took a deep dive into two things:

  • An index of the number of competitors that appear alongside our ads.
  • Our indexed CPCs all by hour of day, and day of week.

The data uncovered some interesting insights.


The data indicates that there is a slow competitor build through the day. At 5 p.m. the number of competitors spikes to 7.5 paid search advertisers per search result.


When it comes to CPCs, it appears that costs rise throughout the day. However, there is this spike early in the morning. This might be explained due to daily budgets refreshing, and the system stabilizing because costs quickly drop back in line with the competitive activity.

If you understand some of these trends you can help explain, and optimize to, the variances throughout the day. Dayparting strategies are just another great way to leverage segmentation capabilities, and take advantage of the data knowledge you have. This info will vary strongly by client, and industry.

You might expect the competition by hour to be different for a retail store with traditional hours vs. car insurance. Another variance might come around specific market events like TV shows, or when your commercial runs during “The Voice”.

Understanding these macro trends provides greater ability to respond to consumer demands. Below is the same data set, but it includes the breakdown for day of week.



This data uncovers the variance that happens between weekdays and weekends. Those periods have a much fewer competitors participating in the auction, and it directly ties to lower CPCs during those same times. These heat maps have been helpful to drive strategic direction, and explain variances in results.

Paid search is a game that is always on, sometimes with more players in the game than others. Understanding when the peak times to enter the poker game at the casino can pay big dividends. Paid search is no different.

You have the data available to help you make those decisions. Sometimes thinking about it in a slightly different way can create market opportunities.

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