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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

After uploading the feed to the Studio profile, follow the below steps that are specific to start/end date scheduling strategies:

  1. Navigate to Step 2: Manage Data. In the Special fields (optional) section, select the start date column name from the Start Date dropdown; repeat for end date. Select the type of scheduling to be used: System Time or User Time. 

  2. In the Data types and filters section, select the "DateTime" field type for the start and end date columns in the feed.

  3. In Step 3: Manage Rules, there is no additional setup required.

  4. 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.

  5. In Step 5: Preview, preview the creative by entering the date/time criteria into the parameter field and clicking the Launch/update preview button.

  6. Publish!

Additional resources

Check out this sample creative! Take a look at the Rich Media Gallery for an example of a start/end date scheduled dynamic creative.

Frequently Asked Questions

Pre-development

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 DCM's time and day targeting in connection with dynamic data; however, this requires an DCM Ad ID targeting strategy. See the DCM 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 should I keep in mind when designing creatives?

Please follow the Dynamic creative best practices.

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 time is 10/21/2015, but there are no rows of matching content in the feed for date 10/21/2015. 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. DCM chooses another creative in the rotation (based on priority) to serve to this user. If there is no other creative in rotation, DCM serves the default ad.

Development

What if I receive errors when I upload my feed?

If the dates and/or times do not match the expected format 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 acceptable data formats.

Post-Development

How do I preview a scheduled dynamic creative?

Go to Step 5: Preview in the Dynamic Content workflow. Select date, time, and time zone. Then click Launch/update preview to see how the creative displays to users at the time you selected.

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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