Friday: Using Ad Scheduling and Geo-Targeting

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On Monday, we discussed delivery options. We mentioned that Accelerated delivery can help generate the maximum exposure for your website, and if optimized properly, this delivery method can really give your PPC campaign a huge boost. Today, we’ll discuss two ways to fine-tune your Accelerated delivery in order to show your ads when your target audience is mostly likely to take action, as well as how to show your ads where they are most relevant.

The two settings we are discussing today are powerful, so adjust them with caution. We don’t mean to scare you, but getting your Ad Scheduling and geo-targeting settings right is extremely important. If you don’t, your ads may show up at the wrong times and in the wrong locations!

Ad Scheduling

First we’ll cover Ad Scheduling. As illustrated in Figure 4.28, you can adjust your Ad Scheduling settings within the Advanced Settings section of your campaign Settings tab.

Ad Scheduling enables you to automatically increase or decrease bids, or you can stop your ads from running altogether.

Before we get to the “how” of Ad Scheduling, let’s first discuss the reasons for using this advanced option. As your PPC account matures and you learn what works and what doesn’t, you will discover that during certain times of the day, your target audience is more (or less) likely to convert. You may find that there are entire days that lack in performance. Ad Scheduling can automatically increase your bids during those peak hours when users tend to convert more highly, as well as lower bids when users are less likely to convert. This is why Ad Scheduling is so powerful!

How do you learn at what times users convert best? The AdWords web interface provides some great reports, but it doesn’t allow you to see hourly conversion data. You can see impressions, clicks, CTR, average CPC, and cost broken down by hour, but you can’t see conversions, conversion rate, and CPC at the hourly level. We suggest you dig into your analytics or shopping cart data to learn this information. Because it’s free, we suggest you take full advantage of Google Analytics. Within this software program, you can get hourly conversion data for your PPC campaign. You can learn everything you ever wanted to know about Google Analytics by reading Web Analytics: An Hour a Day by Avinash Kaushik (Sybex, 2007). After you have acquired hourly conversion data and you’ve learned when you should automatically decrease and increase bids, then you’re ready to adjust your Ad Scheduling settings.

Let’s return to the shoe retailer example for this discussion. Imagine that the retailer has learned that people are less likely to buy shoes between 2 a.m. and 6 a.m., so you’ve decided to lower all bids by 25 percent during these weak hours. Also, the retailer has discovered that people love to buy shoes between 1 p.m. and 4 p.m., so you’re going to increase bids during these times.

When you launched the AdWords campaign for this client, you were targeting all hours of the day with 100 percent of your bids (which is the default setting, and how you should launch your campaign). When you view Campaign Settings and click Edit for Ad Scheduling, a screen like the one shown in Figure 4.29 will pop up in your browser.

When you are targeting all days of the week and all hours of the day, this is how your ad schedule will appear.Now you’re going to adjust your Ad Scheduling settings in order to take advantage of the hourly conversion information that you learned about in Google Analytics. Click Bid Adjustment at the upper right of the Ad Schedule window and adjust your settings as shown in Figure 4.30.

Adjusting bid prices to increase the conversion rate and decrease CPC

The adjusted hourly bids are now as follows:

  • From 12 a.m. to 2 a.m., your bids are running at 100 percent as usual.
  • From 2 a.m. to 6 a.m., your bids will lower 25 percent, and run at 75 percent.
  • From 6 a.m. to 1 p.m. your bids will increase back to 100 percent.
  • From 1 p.m. to 4 p.m., your bids will increase by 25 percent, to 125 percent.
  • From 4 p.m. to 12 a.m., your bids will lower back to 100 percent.

It’s very important to note that the time zone of your ad scheduling is based on your account settings, not the time zone where people see your ad.

Geo-Targeting

Geo-targeting is a powerful functionality that can greatly increase your ROI. Geotargeting is essential for some businesses. Is there a certain place that you don’t ship to? If so, you might want to use the Excluded Locations tool. Or if you’re an international advertiser, you may want to segregate your creative efforts by language and currency.

Before launching your PPC campaign, you may already know whether you need to target a specific geographic location. This decision might be driven by the fact that you’re advertising a brick-and-mortar store that services the local area, or a company that ships to only certain geographic regions.

You can adjust your geo-targeting settings within the Locations, Languages, and Demographics section of your campaign settings, as shown in Figure 4.31.

AdWords geo-targetingThere are a few different ways to target specific areas within AdWords. For this example, you’ve learned that your shoe retailer sells the most shoes in their hometown of Chicago and in the surrounding Chicagoland area. You are going to adjust your geotargeting accordingly.

In Figure 4.32, we have selected to target the Chicago metro area. On the left, you can see that we selected Chicago from the menu in AdWords, and this is indicated on the corresponding map.

Targeting an area by selecting the desired state and city

You can choose to target your ads by entering a physical location and creating a radius around this location. In Figure 4.33, we have entered our address as 444 North Michigan Avenue, and we have chosen to display our ads within a 15-mile radius of this address.

Radius targeting can be helpful for small businesses that want to display ads in a small area. You can even target your surrounding neighborhood.You can also create a custom target area within AdWords. On the Custom tab, you can outline the area on the map where you want your ads to appear. In Figure 4.34, we chose the specific coordinates of where our ad should appear.

If you want to get highly specific about where you ads are displayed, you can draw your own custom targeted area.