It wasn't but a few weeks ago that I wrote about Google's plans to add dayparting to their AdWords management system, which makes it kind of exciting that the long-awaited feature is now up and running. The idea here is to give advertisers more control over their campaigns without having to rely on expensive third-party bid management systems. For small business owners that are able to track their conversion rates down to the day or time of day, this new Ad Scheduling system offers up a world of opportunity.

Basically, the concept is this: ad scheduling, or dayparting as it's known in the industry, allows you to increase your return on investment by running your ads during the time periods that give you the highest conversion rates. Say you offer a music download site that is heavily skewed toward teenager girls. Rather than running your ads 24/7 and competing with companies targeting adults and college ages students, you can focus your advertising dollars toward weekends and the first few hours after those teen girls get out of school for the day. Dayparting basically lets you spend MORE money on your bids by making sure that your ads will only run when they are the most likely to result in actual sales.

So how does Google's new Ad Scheduling system work? A quick walk-through with screen shots shows that it couldn't be simpler to setup. First, you'll need to login to your AdWords account, visit a campaign page and select the "edit campaigns" button. On the campaign edit page (shown below), you'll find a new section titled "Ad Scheduling."

Simply click on the link titled "Turn on Ad Scheduling" and you're quickly taken to a page (shown below) that shows a sort of bar chart set of graphics that represent the hours of the day that your campaign will run.

Note that by default, all campaigns are set to run 24/7. To save time, you can also bulk edit your ads by the week, weekend, or day. In order to fine tune the campaign, advertisers can click on the blue edit button that shows up next to each day of the week. Doing so will take you to the image shown below.

Once you get into the edit screen you can choose to pause the campaign for the day, effectively turning your ad off, or you can add as many time periods as you want to mark when the ads will run. Note that last part again, you are choosing the hours of the day that you want your ad to RUN, not the house when it will not run. It's as simple as selecting your start and end period from a drop down box and then selecting either "add another time period" or simply "add" to set the changes.

After you've gone through each of your days and set your campaign parameters, you can once again view the full week's ad schedule by viewing the green bar chart image. You'll note that in the image below, the campaign has been set to run from 6am to 7pm on weekdays.

The campaign will be turned off in the evenings, over night and over the weekend. This is an example of how a b2b site that gets most of its conversions during business hours might tailor their campaign.

It's also important to note that this could be a very handy feature for advertisers that have run into problems with their daily ad budget being eaten up during hours that don't tend to result in the highest number of conversions. By setting the ads to start running when conversions are more likely, even businesses with limited funds should be able to earn more while spending less.

Discuss this article in the Small Business Ideas forums.

June 16, 2006

Jennifer Laycock is the Editor of Search Engine Guide, the Social Media Faculty Chair for MarketMotive and offers small business social media strategy & consulting. Jennifer enjoys the challenge of finding unique and creative ways to connect with consumers without spending a fortune in marketing dollars. Though she now prefers to work with small businesses, Jennifer’s clients have included companies like Verizon, American Greetings and Highlights for Children.

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