Dayparting is a Google Ads scheduling strategy that ensures your audience sees your ads when they’re most active, whether they’re early-morning scrollers, lunchtime procrastinators, or night owls.
Here, you’ll find:
- What dayparting is
- Which businesses should use it
- How to set up dayparting as part of your strategy
- 3 mistakes brands make with dayparting
You’ve crafted the perfect Google Ads campaign. It boasts stellar ad copy, striking visuals, and an expertly chiseled keyword bid strategy.
But where are the clicks and conversions?
It’s like getting gussied up and showing up to a party with wine and hors d’oeuvres, only to find the venue is empty.
Perhaps you got the timing wrong? Missed your window?
Similarly, maybe you’re not aligned with your audience’s most active online hours. The solution? Dayparting puts your ads in front of your audience when they’re most active and engaged.
We chatted with Hilary Sperley, one of HawkSEM’s performance marketing managers with over 10 years of paid advertising experience. Here, she shares inside tips about dayparting so you can finally kiss misfired ads goodbye.
What is dayparting?
Dayparting is a Google Ads strategy that helps you place PPC ads in front of your audience during the time frames (hours and specific days) they’re most active online. It also strategizes ad scheduling and higher keyword bids for when your audience is most likely to convert.
Google Ads is the most common PPC channel for dayparting, though you can also use the strategy for Facebook Ads campaigns, Amazon Ads, and LinkedIn Ads.
However, Facebook is a relatively newer ad platform compared to Google. Therefore, its dayparting features are a bit more complex.
“I’ve seen the most success on Google Ads,” Sperley notes. “With Facebook, you can easily choose the days you want to run ads, but adding bid adjustments to the hours you want to run ads takes several extra steps.”
Let’s look at an example of dayparting on Google Ads.
Suppose you’re a neighborhood breakfast joint. Chances are, “breakfast near me” queries will spike in the morning hours. With dayparting you can increase your keyword bids during these peak hours to capture more customers.
Of course, peak conversion times don’t warrant a dayparting strategy that excludes all other times. Why? You can still generate website traffic during off-peak hours, which is essential for brand awareness.
So, instead of pausing ad campaigns during specific times of day, try increasing your keyword bids at peak times to maximize conversions (more on that later).
Which businesses should use dayparting?
While dayparting can be a valuable tool for many, it’s especially effective for B2B businesses. Sperley says B2B operations often have set business hours, making it easier to predict when their audience is active.
That said, not every biz should jump straight into dayparting. For example, new businesses might lack the data to truly understand when and how often their audience is online and buying.
But what about ecommerce shops that operate around the clock? For starters, they shouldn’t exclude potential customers by removing certain time slots from their ad campaigns. However, Sperley sees late-night dayparting as necessary for any brand’s PPC strategy:
“Every business can usually benefit from excluding the 12 am-5 am window, as most users that click on ads during that window aren’t willing to fill out a form or purchase something online,” she says.
Assuming dayparting is a fit for your biz, let’s go over precisely how to use it for maximum results.
How to set up dayparting in your marketing strategy
Dayparting isn’t as easy as automating campaign starts and stops in your ad schedule. You need to inform your scheduling choices with the right data insights and initial testing.
As a top 3% digital marketing agency and Google Premier partner whose client roster includes brands like Nike and Honda, dayparting is part of our day-to-day.
Here’s our five-step guide for harnessing dayparting in Google Ads.
1. Find out when your ads convert the most
Step one? Data collection and analysis. You need to know when your audience is converting the most, and you need a big enough sample size to do it. It’s a good idea to have at least three months of website data from Google Analytics to work with.
“We pull reports on the days and hours of the week — sometimes we do this in Google Ads, other times we directly pull this into Google Sheets and pivot out the best days and times where we see the most conversions or traffic depending on campaign goals,” Sperley shares.
This allows HawkSEM to get a comprehensive view of when their ads are most effective—but they don’t stop there.
On top of that, we examine accompanying real-time and historical insights on clicks and conversions throughout the day across multiple channels (including social media) to further tweak our strategies. Our PPC experts then analyze those insights from our proprietary tech, ConversionIQ.
Don’t overlook geography and demographics in your research either. With a global audience across multiple time zones, online behaviors can vary.
Consider this: Western Europeans tend to take longer lunch breaks than Americans. This could look like a bigger time slot for peak conversions, depending on your unique products.
Armed with this data, what’s your next step?
2. Rule out certain times and days
Notice a flatline of conversions or traffic during a specific date or time? Sperley says it’s safe to automate a campaign pause (ensuring you’ve set a time to resume) or dial down your keyword bids:
“When you know the optimal times for driving the best performance, you can use bid adjustments to exclude times that are not good, entirely, for example, late hours of the night, by adding a -100%.”
However, not every time slot warrants a full bid reduction.
A modest 20% or 25% could suffice. It’s also worth noting that Google Ads lets you customize dayparting for different days of the week. So if you notice fewer conversions during lunchtime on weekdays but more so on Saturdays, adjust your bids accordingly for those weekdays.
As for time slots with favorable metrics…
3. Increase bids during peak hours
The local lunchtime diner might get “best burgers in town” queries around prime times like lunch and dinner. Similarly, gift shops could see heightened conversions in November and December for holiday shopping. These patterns aren’t coincidental.
These are peak-converting windows that warrant daily budget increases.
“You can add bid adjustments such as 15% to bid higher so that your ads show higher, you get more traffic, and more conversions,” says Sperley. “This means that you’re willing to pay 15% more for clicks during that time period.”
However, a word of caution: You can’t make time-based bid adjustments like this if you’re working with bidding strategy automation. Google’s advertising platform doesn’t support both simultaneously.
But what if you bid higher during peak times and competitors still overshadow your brand on the SERPs? Sperley provides insight: “Most likely, they are bidding higher for certain times of day, as they are willing to pay more for their ads to see higher impression share, they get more traffic and conversions.”
While it might be tempting to continually outbid competitors, it’s crucial to strike a balance. You want to maximize leads and conversions without depleting your return on ad spend (ROAS).
So, how do you find the sweet spot?
4. Conduct A/B testing
Figuring out the optimal bid during high-traffic times can be a bit of a puzzle, and A/B testing helps you put the pieces together.
Start with two distinct PPC campaigns, each with varying bids in their dayparting strategies. Monitor them for at least two weeks (ideally a month) and track conversions, along with other important metrics like click-through rate (CTR), cost per click (CPC), and ROAS.
You might find your conversion rate or volume is higher in the ad campaign with the higher bid. However, the numbers might not be enough to justify that increase if the campaign with a lower bid performs better in terms of ROAS and ROI.
You can also test lowered bid adjustments during off-peak times to observe ROAS changes. And always channel your campaign goals in your A/B testing, too. While ROAS and conversion volume are invaluable, other metrics like impression share and web traffic stats offer equally crucial insights.
After all this testing and tweaking, it’s time for the final phase.
5. Design a custom ad schedule and monitor accordingly
By now, you have a solid handle on the times and specific days of the week that get the best results. Your A/B testing data gives you the insights to feel confident about your dayparting choices and bid adjustments.
However, as with all PPC strategies, there’s no “set-it-and-forget-it” approach.
Unpredictable global events or emerging trends could shift your audience’s online behavior, moving them away from their previous peak conversion times. That’s why it’s crucial to audit and adjust your campaigns, stay up-to-date on audience research, and keep your dayparting strategies as efficient as possible.
We’ve covered what to do to succeed with dayparting. Like any marketing tactic, you also want to know what not to do.
3 mistakes brands make with dayparting
What’s the difference between dayparting and dinner party etiquette? You probably won’t lose a friend if you bail on their event, but you might lose a conversion if your ads don’t show up when your audience is online.
Sperley shares the three most common dayparting mistakes she’s observed and how to rectify them:
1. Not targeting enough hours or dates
You might bring in 100 conversions during your core business hours, 10 am-1 pm. Between 1 pm and 4 pm, however, you see your conversions dip. Therefore, you opt to lower your bids for that window. While you’re at it, you do the same for the conversion-light mornings.
But what about all the other people landing on your site during those times that just don’t buy anything? If you don’t target enough hours or dates, you risk losing serious traffic and subsequent brand awareness.
“A common mistake brands make when setting up ad schedules is being too conservative with the hours they are targeting. This drops reach,” says Sperley.
A prime example is setting hours to times that you’re only seeing conversions. The risk?
“You will see traffic decrease and campaigns possibly not spending their full budget,” she adds. “It’s similar to location targeting: the fewer hours that you advertise, the lower your reach will be.”
2. Targeting too many time slots
Calling all overthinking marketers: hey, it takes one to know one.
Unfortunately, our analytical minds can overanalyze (and over-predict) peak conversion times. This can actually result in more ad costs without meaningful results.
“Other times, brands will go the opposite direction and add bid adjustments to too many hour segments, which defeats the purpose,” Sperley explains.
But the biggest dayparting mistake?
3. Poor data analysis
If you struggle to garner actionable insights from your traffic and conversion data, you will also struggle to accurately predict a successful dayparting strategy.
Sperley often sees this in newer businesses with limited data to interpret. But Sperley says established brands with large target audiences aren’t impervious to the data interpretation fumble.
“It’s important to know not only how to pull the data but how to interpret the data to get the info you need to make the right, effective optimizations,” she says.
So how do you safeguard from potential data blunders?
At HawkSEM, everything we do is data-driven. Our ConversionIQ dashboard is also very helpful as it automates this process and breaks down a clear report of every hour of the day and performance metrics that you deem important.
Humans are creatures of habit. As savvy marketers, it’s our job to study those habits to predict your audience’s next move. Dayparting leverages insights to optimize your ad scheduling strategy, ultimately boosting your revenue while minimizing ad spend.
That said, life is unpredictable, swiftly altering online behavior.
This means dayparting requires serious attention to detail and trend research to ensure your ad scheduling remains relevant to your target audience. That includes A/B testing different bid adjustments and continuously monitoring results even after settling on a strategy.
Overwhelmed by conversion metrics? Naturally, you want to target lucrative times of the day without wasting too much of your own time. Look no further than HawkSEM.
Our award-winning digital marketing agency provides you with a dedicated ads manager, insights from a team of seasoned experts, and our proprietary tech. The result? An impressive average ROI of 4.5X for our clients.
Ready to make a timely entrance to the ROI party? Let HawkSEM get you there with style and precision.