Just about anyone can have a good reason to use the geo targeting capability.
A small local advertiser may care only about reaching people within a single zip code or a few nearby zip codes.
A somewhat larger advertiser such as a car dealer may want to reach an entire metro market.
Regional advertisers of course might want to focus on multiple metro markets or entire states.
National Advertisers Geo Target Too
One example that comes to mind is AngiesList.com, which is currently advertising heavily in my local market, especially on TV.
I’m quite certain that Angie’s List does not have nearly enough money to advertise in every market throughout the entire country, even though it is a national site.
So the strategy requires that it tackle a few markets at a time. Advertise heavily in online and offline media until a certain level of market share is reached. Then move on to the next market.
As a result, a limited annual budget is used effectively while following strict goals and objectives.
Monitor Niche Results
An effective ad campaign in AdWords, Bing or other platforms may have multiple ad groups that target different geographic areas. They also may break down a geographic area even more into niche demographics such as age or gender.
By breaking down the campaign into niches, the advertiser can see which niches produce the best results and which ones do the worst.
The advertiser can tweak the campaign segments to find the right parameters or kill certain segments if they keep doing poorly. Then more money from the campaign budget can go into the best performers.
How to Geo Target in AdWords
Anyone who has an existing ad campaign or is creating a new one should start by clicking on the Settings tab.
Scroll down to Locations and click on Edit.
In the popup location box, enter a country, state, city or zip code. But for the purpose of this article, we are more interested in the latter three.
Keep in mind that Google (and Bing) has more limited data at the zip code level than at the city or state levels.
For more sophisticated capabilities including a map function, click on Advanced Search.
One of the more useful features is Radius Targeting. Enter a place name and choose the number of miles radiating from that point to include every geographic location within that radius.
Radius targeting is useful for a business that assumes its customers are willing to drive a certain number of miles from any direction to reach it.
Another option is Bulk Uploading, which allows the advertiser to upload an entire list of cities or zip codes rather than entering them one at a time.
Limitations and Other Tips
A source that provides zip codes for a certain area may not match the zip codes covered in AdWords.
Some zip codes simply may not have enough population. In that case, AdWords will provide a message saying it is too small for coverage. It offers an option to remove the zip code.
Geo targets with small populations also may have big, unpredictable swings in results because they have fewer impressions and clicks.
Keep in mind that the process is not perfect and requires some tweaking to get the maximum results. But it is clear that geo targeting with AdWords, Bing or other reliable platforms will deliver useful insights and a highly efficient use of online advertising budgets.