Start and end date scheduling

Start and end date scheduling (sometimes referred to as flighting) is an advertising strategy that lets an advertiser set a schedule for when different content displays in the ad. Using dynamic creatives, an ad can be updated automatically by changing date parameters. This allows creative content to be tailored to business seasons and time sensitivity, resulting in increased relevancy on every impression and efficient creative development and management.

There are two types of scheduling available:

  • System time: Scheduling is triggered by global UTC time (Coordinated Universal Time). Once a feed is uploaded to Studio, the time settings are automatically converted into global UTC time for serving. If no time zone is included in the feed, then US Pacific Time is the default.

  • User time: Scheduling is triggered based on the user's time. If an ad is eligible to be served from 12PM to 2PM, it will be served during those hours, irrespective of where the user is located. Timezones cannot be included and will result in feed transformation errors when user time is selected.

For both types of scheduling, if no time is specified, the default is 00:00:00 (i.e. midnight on the date specified). For example, a row with 3/15/2013 start date and a 3/16/2013 end date will run for exactly 24 hours (midnight to midnight).

For more information on how to format dates and times, review Approved date and time formats for dynamic creative feeds.

Feed setup

  1. Start with a feed template Refer to this sample feed structure as a basic starting point for a start/end date filtered strategy. Browse additional feed templates in the template gallery.
  2. Fill out the feed Follow these general feed instructions to begin populating the feed.
  3. Add the "Start date" and "End date" columns After following the general feed instructions, make sure to add two columns: one for start dates and one for end dates. Enter the appropriate start and end dates in the rows within these columns. Follow the formatting instructions listed in the Approved Date and Time Formats article.

Get notified when content expires

When you're managing a campaign that includes content with multiple end dates, it can be helpful to set up email notifications as content expires to remind yourself to make updates to the campaign.

Studio profile setup

Add the feed to your Studio profile and follow these steps:

  1. After you've selected your feed source, you're taken to the “Manage element” step. Underneath the element name, select the appropriate columns for ID and reporting label.
  2. In the “Special fields (optional)” section:
    1. Select the column name to use for the Default. Rows with the value "TRUE" in this column will serve when none of the other dates match. If you choose not to set this default, we recommend adding a row that covers all potential dates outside of the scheduled dates, to avoid serving a default Campaign Manager ad instead of a default feed row.
    2. Select the column name to use for the Start date; repeat for End date. ;
    3. Select the type of scheduling time you want to use, either system time or user time.
    4. Select the column name to use for active (or inactive) rows.
  3. In the “Data types and filters” section, select the “DateTime” field type for the start and end date columns in the feed.
  4. Click Transform.
  5. In Step 3: Manage Rules, no additional setup is required.

  6. In Step 4: Generate Code, the dynamic code is generated. Follow these steps to incorporate the dynamic code into the creative asset files and upload the final assets to Studio. If you're using Google Web Designer, skip step 4 and follow these steps instead.

  7. Go to Step 5: Preview in the Dynamic Content workflow. Select a date, time, and time zone, then click Apply to see how the creative displays to users at the time you selected.

  8. (Optional) Select additional reporting dimensions to include in reports. ID, reporting label, and start and end dates are included by default.

  9. When you're done, publish your profile.

Frequently Asked Questions

What is required to run a start and end date scheduled dynamic creative?
  • Standard assets required for any Rich Media campaign
  • Completed feed
  • Dynamic image files
  • Dynamic copy
  • YouTube video IDs (intro and/or full)
  • Exit URL(s)
  • Font files for dynamic banner copy
Is time-of-day targeting available?

Although specific time-of-day targeting (e.g. morning, afternoon, etc.) is not supported, targeting by time of day can be accomplished by creating one row of content for each day/time interval that requires a different creative message. For example, set up one row for Monday morning, one row for Monday afternoon, one row for Tuesday morning, etc.

An alternative is to use Campaign Manager's time and day targeting in connection with dynamic data; however, this requires a Campaign Manager Ad ID targeting strategy. See the Campaign Manager ID filtering guide for more information.

Am I required to specify both date and time in the feed?

No. At a minimum, a date must be entered in the start and end date columns. If no time is specified, the default is 00:00:00 (i.e. midnight).

Can I specify time zones in the feed?

Yes, time zones can be included in the feed only if the system time option is being used. If no time zone is included, however, the default is Pacific Time. If user time is used, time zones cannot be included in the feed and will result in errors.

What if an impression is served to a user with a date/time that does not match any of the date/times in my feed?

For example, the user's current date is 10/21/2030, but there are no rows of matching content in the feed for that date. Dates without a specified time are equivalent to 12:00am of that day. If you wish to serve content through the end of a day, enter the next day in the feed as the end date. There are two potential results, depending on how the feed was created to handle these situations:

  • If there is a "Default" content column in the feed, then the default content row will be served in this scenario. As long as the default content row is set to "TRUE" in the feed, the user will be served the default.

  • If you did not include a "Default" content column in the feed, there is no eligible content to serve. Campaign Manager chooses another creative in the rotation (based on priority) to serve to this user. If there is no other creative in rotation, Campaign Manager serves the default ad.

What if I receive errors when I upload my feed?

If the dates and/or times do not match the supported formats for dynamic creatives, an error message is displayed in Step 2: Manage Data. When this error occurs, make sure that the date and time formats in the feed match the supported date formats.

Are there any special trafficking considerations for a campaign that uses scheduling?

No, but there are some trafficking considerations to keep in mind for dynamic creatives in general. For more information, see Dynamic trafficking FAQs.

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