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When is the best time of day for your search advertising?

Yesterday I talked about the need to understand that PPC search advertising budgets usually aren’t enough to spread as comprehensively as advertisers expect. But if you’re bidding at as low a cost-per-click as makes sense, and there’s still not enough budget to show for every search, when will your ads show?

Google Ads offers a setting called “Accelerated Delivery”, which just means: “Show the ads in every qualifying search until the budget is used up”. This can often be very quick indeed – once when I tried this with a small budget, my ads never showed beyond about 9am. This setting is really designed for advertisers who just want to ensure they spend all their money each day, but we haven’t come across a client who it makes sense for. As I’ve recommended before, Google’s ‘smart bidding’ AI will get you better results, modifying the bid and timing to get you the most clicks possible.

It’s not unusual to discover that the best time of day for your advertising is not when you’d expect it to be. Indeed, the result can be so unintuitive that many advertisers just won’t accept it. First of all, let’s assume that whenever someone clicks through on your advert, the likelihood of them being a genuine prospect is equal. Some advertisers think that a click made at 11pm can’t be as good as one made at 11am, but why not? Indeed, if someone’s searching for your product at 11pm, they’ve probably got just as good a reason for doing so. And not every customer works from 9 to 5 …far from it, in fact.

Now, as we saw yesterday, you might only have enough budget to show your ad a few times a day for each keyword. Supposing there are 100 searches made every morning, 80 every afternoon and 20 every evening, and you can only afford to show your ad 10 times. With nothing else to go on, smart automated bidding might just space these out over the 24 hours, showing the advert 5 times in the morning, 4 times in the afternoon and once in the evening.

However, what if the competition was far less in the evening, because many advertisers refuse to believe clicks are worth buying then, and switch off their advertising? Then the cost per click might be halved, and the smart bidding might realise it can show your advert on all 20 searches in the evening. Result: your ad gets shown twice as often each day, and you get twice as many clicks …but you’re never seen in conventional 9-5 working hours.

All this requires a combination of testing and understanding the point of the campaign. If you’re solely trying to get people to phone you during working hours, then you may want to tailor your ads to show accordingly. But if you want them to read about your products or fill in an enquiry form, it could be that the AI’s inclination to not join in the daytime bunfight is smart bidding indeed.