How to schedule Facebook Ads and why I do it

Since 2009, there have been reports that Facebook would allow advertisers to schedule ads for specific periods during the day. This did not happened until last week.


What Facebook Ad Scheduling is

The primary function of this new feature is for you to choose which day and hour to run ads.


An important thing to look out for when you schedule ads is to check your ad account’s time zone. Make sure that it is your local time zone to avoid confusion. If you have no control over the time zone, then make sure that you are aware of the difference in time zones and make the necessary conversion when you schedule ads.


Yet another reason to use Power Editor

The only way you can schedule Facebook ads by specific periods, a practice called dayparting, is through the Power Editor.

If you are not yet a user of Power Editor, then you might want to consider learning to use it because the latest features are usually made available on Power Editor first. This has happened with unpublished posts, conversion tracking, and custom audiences, among many others.


How to schedule your Facebook Ads

To daypart your ads, go to Power Editor.

Then, from your campaign view, click on “View Ad Sets”.

Next, either create a new ad set or click on one of your current ad sets. When you have done that, you should see the list of settings as shown in the screenshot above.

There are two selections you need to make:

  • Click on the dropdown menu beside “Budget” and choose “Lifetime”.
  • Choose “Run ads on a schedule” under “Ad Scheduling”.

Each day is broken up into 24 mini-blocks, each representing 1 hour. You can:

  • Click and drag on the mini-blocks to select specific periods; or
  • Choose “All Day”; or
  • Pick non-continuous blocks in the same day to run ads for specific time, like 3pm-5pm and 9pm-11pm on Monday.


Lifetime budget and what it means for you

If you are unfamiliar with lifetime ad budgets, this is a good opportunity to set the record straight.

Even with lifetime ad budgets, Facebook allocates your ad budget evenly across the period that you have scheduled.

This is what Facebook says:

This is an approximate amount based on your daily or lifetime budgets. Today’s actual spending may be different, but the total will not exceed your budget.

Notice that in the screenshot above, Facebook sets an estimated budget for each day. This is similar to daily ad budget, except that Facebook calculates this amount for you. So you can rest assured that your budget will be spread over the course of your ad schedule.


When I would schedule Facebook ads, and you should too

1. Control when your budget is spent

This sounds obvious, but let me explain further. Unless you schedule ads, Facebook controls when your budget is spent. This can frustrate you.

If you actively monitor your ad spend like I do, sometimes you might notice peculiarities in the way Facebook spends your budget. For instance, let’s say that you have an ad budget of $4 a day and you bid using oCPM. At 10pm, you might see that only $1.50 of your budget is spent. But when you check again at 12am, you might see that all of your budget is expended.

If you are suspecting foul play from Facebook, you are not alone.

There could be two logical explanations for this.

First, Facebook could use up your budget towards the end of the day to try to increase your conversions.

Second, your target audience happen to be online only during this period. Although the second reason is unlikely, I shall give Facebook the benefit of the doubt because I have no real evidence to prove otherwise.

I have experienced this many times but there was nothing I could do before the ability to schedule my ads became a reality. So why leave your budget spend to Facebook when you can exert more control over it now?

I will make use of this feature to compare my conversion rates and cost per conversion when I schedule ads against that when I don’t.


2. Focus your limited budget on boosting conversions

This reason applies only if you know when most of your conversions happen. With this data, you can allocate your budget to the ideal blocks.

For instance, you might notice that most of your social referrals to your website happen between 12pm and 3pm on Saturday but most of your purchases happen between 6pm and 9pm. Now, you can schedule your ads to run only between 6pm to 9pm to see if conversion rates are indeed higher.

When you do this, you need to compare the increase in sales from scheduled ads between 6pm and 9pm and the previous conversions driven from ads between 12pm and 3pm. To do so, you have to track website conversions.


3. Experiment and find the best schedule

On top of the new campaign structure introduced in February, the ability to schedule a new dimension to the way you use ad sets.

Previously, you only had to pay attention to two things when you create ad sets:

  • Target audience
  • Budget

Now, you will need to consider whether there is a need for you to schedule your ads to run for specific times of the day.

For example, you can create 6 to 12 same ad sets but at 2-hour to 4-hour intervals to see which time interval converts best. With a 2-hour interval, you could then multiply that by 7 days a week and create up to 84 ad sets with different schedules. Of course, this is a lot of ad sets and I would not recommend you to do it unless you are spending more than $500 a day on ads.

At the end of your experiment, you should arrive at a handful of ad sets with optimal schedules, combined to run for months.


Over to you

The ability to schedule ads is a feature that I have waited for because it gives me more opportunities to experiment new things and see what works.

Unfortunately, ad reports do not offer a breakdown of your results by schedule at this stage, although I think it should be included in the next round of updates.

Despite the inconvenience, I will go ahead to create variations of ad sets by schedules and see what works. What about you?

Jason How

I help social media teams and small business owners eliminate Facebook ads and content that suck. Brands that I have worked with include household brands like Seoul Garden and International Volunteer Day, an initiative of the Ministry of Community, Culture, and Youth (MCCY). When I'm not busy with numbers, I can become a real glutton.