How to Optimize Your AdWords Campaigns for Time of Day

Are your site visitors more engaged on Monday or Saturday? At what point in the day are people most likely to register as a volunteer? Do most of your donations happen during work hours or on weekends?

Google Analytics’ time of day reports let you see when your site gets the most traffic and, more importantly, when your audience is most likely to convert. Knowing when your audience is active and when they are most likely to take important actions on site (like registering as a volunteer or making a donation) can help you optimize your Google AdWords grant for organizational impact.


Accessing the Time of Day Report

Google Analytics makes it super easy to get a quick look at which days and hours your site gets the most activity. Right on the home page, we can see a heat map of our site’s busiest days and hours.



The best way to dive deeper into your traffic patterns for days of the week and hours of the day is to set up a custom report in Google Analytics. Luckily, we already built this report and made it available for you to download here. Once you’ve downloaded the custom reports, you’ll be able to easily see how your traffic fluctuates throughout the day.



You can then see how goal completions and goal conversion rates fluctuate throughout the day as well. For us, work hours (when people are searching for digital strategy resources) are higher-converting.



One of the greatest advantages of knowing when your audience is most alert and ready to take action is being able to apply those insights to your AdWords strategy.


Optimizing the AdWords Grant for Time of Day

You can optimize your AdWords account for time of day (or day of week) by scheduling your ads during days or hours when your audience is most interested and most likely to convert. Setting a custom ad schedule can help you to…

Spend your daily grant budget evenly
In Google Analytics, go to Acquisition -> AdWords -> Hour of day to see when you are currently spending your ad dollars. This can also help you see how “maxed” your account is (i.e. if you’re easily spending all of your grant everyday or if you’re spending the last dollar under the wire most days). If you’ve maxed out your AdWords grant, you’ll probably see something like this:

You’re spending your grant pretty evenly throughout the day, peaking when people are most active online during the day, and running out of grant money right around midnight.

If your account is very maxed (i.e. spending all of your grant dollars early on in the day), you’ll see something like this:



Your spend peaks, but then drops off midday when you run out of budget. If your account depletes its grant budget early in the day, you could be missing out on valuable traffic that is searching in later hours. You can set up a custom ad schedule to reserve budget and show your ads only during high interest or high-converting hours to ensure that none of your grant dollars go to waste.

But wait, how are you supposed to know when your audience is most interested and engaged?


Target high-search-volume hours

Let’s say you’re Greater Than AIDS and you want to reach people that are searching for information about HIV. Using Google trends, we can see that search volume for ‘HIV’ spikes everyday around 11 pm.


If you’re running out of budget at 2pm, you’re missing out on the peak hours of your audience interest! Using Google Trends, or similar tools, you can get a better understanding of when people are searching for topics and issues related to your organization’s mission and schedule your campaigns accordingly. You can also take a look at the organic traffic to your site to get a better understanding of when users are looking for the information and services that your nonprofit offers.

In this case, where we’re trying to target people searching for HIV information, we can set a custom ad schedule to start running our campaign later in the day to ensure that some budget is conserved for these audiences.


Target high-converting hours

Traffic is great, but we’re all about conversions here. Luckily, in your hour of day custom report, you can see how goal conversion rate fluctuates throughout the day. This will allow you to identify times of day when users are most likely to take action on your site and let you structure your AdWords strategy around these hours.


In this instance, we might schedule campaigns to run only from 11 am to 9 pm, when we know we have the greatest opportunity to convert site visitors.

You can also look in your AdWords hour of day report (Acquisition -> AdWords -> Hour of day) to see when ad traffic specifically converts at the highest rates for your priority goals.


Scheduling your AdWords grant campaigns around times when your audience is most engaged sounds obvious, but it’s an optimization tactic that many organizations overlook! Use custom ad schedules to maximize your chances of turning site visitors into volunteers, donors, or advocates and turn your online wins into offline impact.


Have a success story of using custom ad schedules? @ us. @WholeWhale.