Ad scheduling allows you to control the times your ads are eligible to enter the auction in Google Ads. You can use this targeting setting to prevent your ads from showing during specific times or optimise your bids to prioritise impressions when they’re most valuable to you.
In this guide, we look at everything you need to know about ad scheduling and how you can set it up in Google Ads.
What is ad scheduling?
Ad scheduling (sometimes called dayparting) is a time-based targeting option in Google Ads that you can use to specify when your ads show. You can apply ad scheduling to your campaigns in the two following ways:
- Specify certain hours or days of the week when you want your ads to appear.
- Set bid adjustments to increase or decrease your bids for specific days and times.
By default, Google Ads campaigns are set to show ads “All day,” meaning your ads are eligible to show anytime a user types in your target keywords. This isn’t always desirable, as you might prefer to only spend money on ads during your business open hours or you may discover that conversion rates tend to be higher on certain days of the week.
With ad scheduling, you can prevent your ads from entering the auction during set times or you can set bid adjustments to prioritise the times where campaign performance is at its highest.
Note: Ad scheduling doesn’t guarantee your ads will show during the times you specify – people still need to enter your target keywords and you then have to win a placement in the auction.
How does ad scheduling work?
Ad schedules run at the campaign level, which means they apply to all of your ad groups within the campaign you’re working with. You can’t set ad scheduling at the ad group level in Google Ads although you can get around this with custom rules if you really need to.
You can set times of the day and days of the week in ad scheduling, which prevents your ads from showing outside the times you specify.
Ad schedules run weekly so you can’t set weeks of the month or months of the year but, once again, you can get around this by using custom rules to pause and activate your campaigns on specific dates.
Here’s an example of ad scheduling from Google:
“Suppose you run a dog-sled touring business in Alaska. By viewing your “Day and Hour” performance on the Ad schedule page, you’ve noticed that your ads get the best results between 8.00 a.m. and 11.00 a.m. on Tuesdays, when Extremely Cold Places is showing on television. You decide to adjust your ad schedule so that on Tuesdays, your ads only appear during that time.”
You can use ad scheduling to prevent your ads showing completely outside of the times you set or apply bid adjustments, which will automatically increase your bids during your chosen times while still allowing your ads to show outside of these times.
How to set up ad scheduling
To create an ad schedule, log in to your Google Ads account and click Campaigns in the left-hand navigation menu and select the campaign you want to work with. Once you’ve selected your campaign, click the + More tab at the bottom of the right-hand navigation menu.
This expands the menu to reveal location settings, ad schedules and several other advanced settings.
Click on Ad schedule and then click the blue pencil icon or the + Edit Ad Schedule on the next page.
This takes you to the following page where you can select your ad schedule settings for your chosen campaign.
By default, your ads are set to show on “All days” between 12:00 AM and 12:00 AM but you can change these settings under the Edit your schedule section.
Click the tab set to All days and this opens a dropdown menu for you to select which days of the week you want your ads to show.
You can set your ads to run across weekdays or weekends by selecting Mondays – Fridays or Saturdays – Sundays but you’ll have to apply the same hours to every day if you choose these options.
If you want to set times for specific days of the week, you’ll want to select Monday from this dropdown list, apply your times and then click the ADD link under Edit your schedule.
You can also set multiple schedules throughout each day by selecting the same day more than once and then choosing the times you want your ads to show.
Once you’re happy with your schedule, click Save and the ads in this campaign will only enter the auction during your specified times.
Ad scheduling bid adjustments
Now that you know how to create an ad schedule in Google Ads, the next step is to adjust your bids so that you can control how much of your budget is invested when performance is highest.
For example, if the majority of your orders come in on a Friday afternoon and Monday morning, you can set bid adjustments to get your ads seen by more people during these peak times while still allowing potential customers to see your ads throughout the rest of the week.
To set bid adjustments to ad schedules, you’re going to set your default maximum bid as normal and then create schedules for any times where you want to increase or decrease your bid from the default setting.
All you need to do is head to the Bid adj. column ad schedule report for the campaign you want to work with and click the pencil edit icon.
This opens the Bid adjustment tab and you simply need to select Increase or Decrease from the dropdown options and define how much you want to adjust your bids by.
Once you’re done, click Save and repeat this step for all scheduled periods where you want to adjust your bids from the default maximum you set for the campaign.