Ads on search engines, also known as “sponsored links” and a variety of other names, are highly targeted when properly structured and optimized. Two of the primary settings that control targeting are called “geotargeting” and “keywords”. The description below applies to search ads, whether they are text ads or advertising that involves graphics. When clicked upon, these ads take the searcher to your website. In this blog, we are going to focus on geotargeting and a couple of its practical applications. Most features of geotargeting are available in the three major search engines; however, a few features noted below, such as custom geotargeting are available only within Google AdWords.

Geotargeting determines the geographical area inside which your online ads will be visible

This can be a city, metro area (or areas), the radius around a location, or a state, country or global. Both standard and custom settings are available. We can even draw an irregular geographic area with three or more points. Geotargeting uses the IP address of the computer to do its work. Although it works by using the IP address, conceptually, it is comparable to using zip codes for a direct mailing. However, there are big differences in when ads are served to your prospective customers.

Using an IP address is highly accurate, but not 100%. The reason for this is that a small percentage of Internet Service Providers (ISPs) have an IP address in which all their users look like they live in one area. Also, if a geographical area that is too small is chosen, it is subject to error. For example, if you set your ads to be seen three miles around a restaurant, then people who work near the restaurant but live five miles away will see your ad on their work computer, but not their home computer. Having said all that, skillful use of geotargeting produces excellent results.

As an overlay to geotargeting, we are also able to set the language. A good example of this would be targeting ads at English speakers in certain parts of Canada that need to be reached.

Examples of geotargeting in use

We have a variety of clients in different cities which have periods of varying demand for their products or services. During slower times, they might ask us to geotarget new customers in a 25 mile radius around their location, while during their busiest periods, they might ask us to reduce the radius ads are seen to 15 miles.

Another productive use of geotargeting is to test the same product or service offering to different cities, states or geographic targets. This type of geotargeting can be used to generate leads, sell products or gather valuable data on customer demand or preferences in different markets at the same time.

For global clients, we use geotargeting not only to target particular countries, but to help allocate budget on different continents. This allows us to stretch a limited budget to insure that each area of the globe that you want to reach gets ad display. Otherwise, response from countries in the earliest time zones could use the day’s budget before searchers in other parts of the world are even awake.

Geotargeting is just one of the many options available to search engine advertisers and goes a long way toward helping to make it the most efficient form of advertising currently available in the market today.