Why bother with ad scheduling?

A reader wonders:

What are the advantages to running the ads only certain times during the day if you’re an information website?  In theory, you’d need the site accessible 24/7 for the individuals who don’t sleep.

My response:

You’re not turning off your website – it’s always available. The question is, are you making or losing money by showng your ads at some particular time of the week?

Ad scheduling serves three basic purposes:

1. Eliminate negative-ROI traffic streams

When you set up conversion tracking and run AdWords reports, you may discover that certain times of the day or days of the week, or combinations thereof, produce negative-ROI traffic. That is, you spend more to get the click than you make in sales from that click.

So once you discover that people searching at 2 in the morning aren’t serious buyers, you can save money by not showing your ads at night. Or weekends. Or whatever. Pay attention to patterns and let your market teach you.

2. Differentiate your message for daytime/nighttime or weekday/weekend audiences

If someone is searching online at 2am, their mindset may be very different from a 10am searcher. The nighttime visitor to your website may be more desperate and open to a more emotional appeal, while the daytime visitor may respond better to calm and rational sales copy. 

A weekend searcher may be looking for personal reasons, while a weekday searcher may be researching for a workplace project. 

You may get a stronger response by running multiple campaigns, with the ads and landing pages geared to the particular mindset of that traffic stream.

3. Capitalize on Event-Based or Media-Based Traffic

If you discover by running reports that certain times of day / days of the week bring you a specific traffic stream, you can schedule certain ads to run only when those traffic streams are running. For example, if you sell an ebook on picking stocks, your best converting traffic may occur right after Jim Cramer’s Mad Money show. So you could create a campaign that runs only from 6-8pm and 11pm-1am on weeknights.

Since this traffic is more motivated than other traffic, you can bid higher. You can also run ads specifically referring to Mad Money – and perhaps even change the ad daily to reflect that day’s show topic. 

Important: none of the examples I gave above necessarily have anything to do with your business. Don’t listen to me (or any expert) for advice about your market when you can get the true expert – your market – to tell you exactly what they want and don’t want. Set up conversion tracking and analytics, and you’ll start making decisions without doubt and second-guessing.

If you don’t understand how to read and take action on AdWords reports, check out the powerful Magic AdWords Button.

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