Adwords Geotargeting goes On Vacation

December 8, 2008

I love to preview my clients search results, its a great way to really get a feel for the user experience, as well as check out the competition’s ads.

As I am not within the geotarget of many of my clients’ area, I commonly use preview tools, such as k-viewer google preview tool or the firefox addon from redfly. Its a bit cumbersome, first I reproduce the search results, from my analtics data, which brings me to my local results, and then I use the redfly preview tool to preview results to a specific city, in this case Leeds, England. Shockingly enough...

I happened to notice that a search query with a city name included in the query, caused the ad to appear in my country, outside of the geotarget country, England. I thought this very odd, so I contacted adwords support… chat transcript included, below this image.

Conclusion: Advertiser Beware, there is no way to restrict your ad to your geotarget, even county, if search query includes a city within your geotarget.

This just touches on many of the problems. Visit Merjis for an excellent in-depth review of the many ins and outs of geotargeting.


dan: i was not aware that geotargeting is not country specific?
dan: i always knew that if the query used one off the cities in my geotarget area, that the ad could appear in the whole country, even if I only targeted Leeds for example.
dan: but, I have seen ads appear in other countries!!!
Support: Yes, it still could appear to users out of the country as long as one of the cities is in the search query.
dan: it does not seem fair that query would appear out of country?!?
Support: The ad can appear in other countries if that location is specified in the search query. For example, I might be wanting to plan a trip to Aruba. If a company has its location targeting preferences set to Aruba, but I am in the U.S. including in my query 'Aruba,' the ad will be eligible to show because it indicated to our system that the ad will be relevant.
dan: that seems to me to be stretching geotargeting "beyond the shores of reason"???
dan: shouldn't the advertiser be able to control geotargeting at least within a country?
dan: so the system is not perfect?
Support: Dan, please remember that your client's ads will only be eligible to show if the actual city name is in the search query.
dan: i do understand that, but still seems unfair to advertisers, to force ads to appear worldwide
dan: should at least be country specific, if you ask my opinion
Support: It is country-specific, but we decide this at the search-query level, unless that user is located within the targeted country. This is to allow for people to see ads that might not be in their country, but that they could be traveling there soon, or actually live there but be temporarily located elsewhere.
Support: Thanks for the feedback though.
dan: that is certainly fine for organic listings
dan: but unless google is providing these clicks for Free, i don't think google should be taking that liberty, do you?
Support: Is there anything else I can help with Dan?
Support: This the way our system works, and I think it works really well.
dan: it seems to go against the "intent" of geotargeting, way over the border of reasonable leeway
Support: Again, this is the way our system works. Thank you for your feedback. I will take it to my team.

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JezC said...

Hi Dan - yes, this seems a relatively new phenomenon. I can see their point - if you were in the travel industry, then this is potentially helpful. However, it is a blunt instrument - this confuses "where do I want my target market" with "and I want anyone in this area".

IMO, it should be up to the advertiser to select what they are prepared to pay for.

OTOH, have you seen how complex the interface is getting now? And that's evn when it *doesn't* have all the data you really need at your fingertips, to manage a keyword :)

Jeremy Mayes said...

You can use negative keywords to limit the impact of this. There was a thread on the subject in Google Groups too -

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