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I often feel that ad scheduling, and in particular the bid adjustment feature, are undervalued tools and certainly have not been used to their full potential in a number of PPC Health Checks that I have recently been involved in.

The logic in spending your PPC budget more effectively on the days of the week, and hours of the day when your visitors are more likely to become customers is a no-brainer, but it still surprises me the amount of advertising budget that is wasted during unprofitable parts of the week.

The key to ensuring you are in front of the right visitors at the right time, is analyzing the visitor behavior and becoming obsessed with statistics!  I want to know as much about my clients visitors as possible and web analytics allows me to effectively stalk them, finding out how they are navigating the site and when they are most likely to engage.

Analysing visitor behavior by day of the week and by hour of the day can be fascinating, and once the data has been analysed and acted upon it can make a huge difference to the profitability of your paid search campaigns in the form of a healthier ROI and more importantly a happy client!

The below image from Google Analytics shows the conversion rate by day for one of our clients, and shows that visitors convert at higher rates during the weekends. When combine this data with average order value, revenue per click, and margin metrics, it is easy to see that the weekend really is king!

Managing a successful pay per click campaign is not about spending more budget and increasing visitor’s month-on-month, it’s about being smart with your budget, making it work harder for you and acquiring visitors and customers as cost effectively as possible.

The real skill is in improving the long term ROI performance, increasing sales, converting visitors at a higher rate without necessarily increasing costs, and ideally reducing the advertising spend over time.  The key to achieving this is in knowing as much about your visitors as possible, and then in using the tools available to better spend your advertising budget.

Editing Ad Scheduling & Using Bid Adjustments

Once you have analysed visitor behavior and built up a picture of when visitors are more likely to engage with your site, you can then make use of ad scheduling and bid adjustments to ensure your ads reflect this.

To change the Ad Scheduling settings, simply click on campaign settings and under Advanced Settings>Ad Scheduling click Edit.

Here you will be able to select the days of the week and hours of the day that you want your ads to appear, and by selecting the ‘Bid Adjustment’ link you can then input varying bid levels during your selected hours of the day.

In the above example, I set my clients bids at lower than 100% between the hours of 4-10am
as  although there were transactions during these hours, the basket values were much lower than average, making traffic during this period unprofitable at full bid levels.

Visitors between 10am and 2pm were worth much more and their revenue per click was significantly higher than any other part of the day, so even at 150% bid level, the traffic was very profitable indeed!

It is extremely important to focus on multiple KPI’s when making ad scheduling decisions. In the above example the volumes of sales between 2 and 7pm was reasonable,  although the conversion rate and average order value during this period was lower than our desired target, making the CPA unmanageable and thus giving us a negative ROI.

Using ad scheduling also allows me to have a separate bidding strategy for the weekend as I know that visitors on Saturday and Sunday afternoons are worth so much more to my client.  The average basket values and revenue per click earned are between 30-40% higher than the rest of the week so it’s a much easier decision to increase spending levels while visitors are in the mood to buy!

Depending on your web analytics system and how much data you have available, you should be able to build up a very good picture of visitor habits and then use the tools available to take full advantage of this knowledge. 

Understanding your visitor’s behavior opens up so many more opportunities which are often missed and  it was clear from our PPC Health Checks that this type of analysis had never really been considered.

Happy Scheduling!