Have you tried geo targeted ads yet? You may not think they are right for your biz, but it doesn’t matter if you’re an online business or a local brick-and-mortar — every brand can benefit from geotargeting.
That’s because geotargeting allows you to personalize your ads and include local references on your landing pages, which creates a custom experience for potential customers. There are many different variables to consider when advertising, but creating geo-fences around specific areas can be extremely effective, so don’t write off this option before realizing the potential benefits.
When you start tracking your campaign performance by location, you’ll be able to measure trends and hyperlocal areas that allow you to maximize your return on ad spend.
Let’s dive deep into the what, how, and why of ads focused on where.
What Is Geotargeting?
Geo targeted ads (also known as geographic ad targeting, location-based advertising, geotargeting, you get the idea) is when a brand picks specific locations and/or areas for their PPC ads to appear.
Just like you can pick certain demographics, such as women between the ages of 25 and 45, you can also narrow your audience by geography. This type of targeting is offered on every major PPC platform including Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, YouTube, LinkedIn, Google, Bing, and more. ?
The idea behind it is to place ads in front of potential customers when they are most likely to convert. For example, if someone is near your brick-and-mortar retail store and they see an ad for your store, they are more likely to convert when they are physically nearby.
Converting customers increases your return on investment for PPC ads and lowers your CPC. By adding an additional filter to your desired audience, you can catch users when they are most likely to use your services and/or shop your product.
Why Is Geotargeting Important?
We’ve already touched on what geo targeted ads are and you’re probably starting to get an idea of why they are important. Ultimately….
But let’s break down on how targeting users based on geography boosts your bottom line.
We know that mobile is increasingly becoming the dominant factor in search. There are actually more searches on smartphones than there are on desktop computers. As more and more searches are made on mobile devices, that segment of the market grows and becomes even more important.
When you’re out and about, how often do you search for somewhere to eat? A place to get gas? Look up movie times? Increasingly we are using the internet outside our homes and place of business. When we are on our phone and hitting the road, we want instant gratification, which is why there is such a high rate of conversion. If you’re looking up places to eat at noon, it’s because you’re on your way to lunch.
Your brand can’t miss out on capturing this large group of potential customers. They are users more likely to convert quickly and visit a physical location, which means $$$.
Of course, that isn’t the only benefit. Campaigns with geo fences also allow advertisers with a large reach more control over their ads. While having a campaign across countries and time zones can be a logistical nightmare with posting times and languages, narrowing your audience by geography allows you to ensure your content and posting times are personalized for the location (which is also more effective advertising!).
How Does Geotargeting Work?
So we know these platforms are capable of throwing an (intangible) geo-fence around certain areas to target users. But how do they do it? Well, these platforms track a number of different factors related to the location including:
- IP address
- Cell tower IDs
- Smartphone GPS
Google can determine a user’s location based on a number of information points like Google Maps, custom location settings in search mode, previous user locations, search queries that include location, and more.
It turns out there are a lot of different ways for advertising platforms to find out where we are ?️ which makes geo targeted ads simple and effective.
Major Types Of Geotargeting
Just because you have decided to use geography as a factor in your target audience doesn’t mean you are stuck with picking one location and its immediate surroundings. You can establish the geo fence as large or small as it makes sense for your advertising.
From biggest to smallest, the three most common types of geo targeted ads are:
I told you we were starting big! So, including an entire country as your geographic area gives you a pretty broad audience. You may wonder how to appeal to such a large potential user base.
First, write in the language of the country and use country-specific phrases, spellings, and colloquialisms. For example, the United States and the United Kingdom both speak English, but the spelling of many words and the use of many common phrases are different. Appeal to your audience by speaking their language…literally! ?
You can also market to an entire country by offering popular benefits that matter to customers, especially when dealing with a company that serves a broad area, like 24-hour customer service or countrywide free shipping.
2. Areas Within Countries
An entire country is a pretty broad target audience. There are definitely options to narrow that demographic while keeping a large pool of potential users. You can pick a region, like California, especially if you have regional specific products that you can base ads around. ??☀️
Google Ads (formerly Google AdWords) lets brands target specific regions, cities, and ZIP codes while Facebook Ads allows you to target free trade areas, states or provinces, and a range of other features.
3. Location Radius
Instead of choosing a country, region, or city, you can select a specific location as the basis for your geo targeted ads. Users will be shown your ad based on their proximity to a certain fixed location, such as your brick-and-mortar business or a landmark.
By drawing a radius out from your business and investing in location-based advertising, you can drive foot traffic to your store and better engage with local users. This can have BIG results right away! ?️
There are a few downsides to this hyperlocal targeting. One of the biggest is that if your target area is very small, there may not be a large number of search queries, in which case your ads may appear rarely or not at all. You need a minimum threshold of search traffic in order to take full advantage of your chosen platform’s location targeting criteria, so if your radius is too small, you may have to widen it for a bigger audience.
Advertising on Different Platforms
Reaching Your Geographic Audience In Google Ads
Google Ads has recently undergone a lot of changes (including changing their name!). There are three options when setting up your desired audience based on geo in Google Ads:
- People in, or who show interest in, your targeted locations
- People in or regularly in your targeted locations
- People who show interest in your targeted locations
Google Ads recommends the first option and so do I, although you should always review based on your business and campaign.
The ability to target people with an interest is particularly helpful. Someone researching a trip can come across your retail store, pay a visit, find a product they like, and become a repeat customer online.
Along with the recent changes, Google Ads has decided to not allow brands to exclusively target people in a geographic location (for now). However, there is a way to get around this. To block people outside the region from seeing your ads, simply exclude all other areas from seeing your campaign. That way, you still reach your desired market.
Geotargeting In Facebook Ads
You can easily set location targeting on Facebook by navigating to your FB page, clicking the blue “Promote” button on the left, selecting “Promote Your Page,” and choosing to edit the Audience selection.
This will set the audience for your entire page. If you go into Facebook Ads Manager, there you can choose geographic location under the “Audience” at the Ad Set level. Generally, when you start a campaign and choose your primary goal, such as brand awareness, location targeting is the next option. ?️
Location Targeting In Microsoft Advertising
Microsoft Advertising (formerly Bing Ads) allows brands to advertise on Bing, AOL, Yahoo, and other sites. You can add geotargeting to your Microsoft Advertising campaign by clicking “Campaigns” at the top of the page, opening the campaign, and clicking “Settings.” Then click “Edit Location Targets” next to Location, select the locations you want to target (or the locations you want to exclude), and then who you want to see your ads. Like Google Ads, you get a choice:
- People in your targeted locations
- People who search or view pages for your targeted locations
- Both of the above groups
With all of the above platforms, you have the option to use other factors to create your ideal audience. Using geo targeted ads does not mean you cannot use other qualifiers like search intent, devices, interests, and demographics. Layering geotargeting in with some of these other elements actually makes your ads more effective because you create an ideal audience that is most likely to convert.
You can also use geographic retargeting ads to display ads to people that are in the area and have previously visited your website. This type of PPC advertising can be extremely effective when used properly.
Once you have started a geographic advertising campaign, you can begin reviewing location data on who has viewed your ad. Based on these metrics, you might want to alter your campaign or adjust the targeting. This is one more opportunity to learn about your audience and what’s working in your marketing. ?
Review Your Ads By Location
As I mentioned above, using geos in your marketing doesn’t mean you set it and forget it. This isn’t an Instant Pot meal! You need to be monitoring your ads to see where the ads are showing and how they are performing in those areas. Based on that info, you can then find more potential customers by adjusting your geos and/or your campaign. ?
Use Local Signifiers Wherever Possible
If people are including specific areas in their search query, such as “web design Boston,” or even if they are searching without including the geo, it helps to appear local. Personalizing your ads for local audiences enhances your connection with the customer and increases the chances of conversion.
There are several ways to do this. First, you can use dynamic keyword insertion to seamlessly insert the names of your targeted geos into your Google Ads. This allows you to personalize your ads based on people’s searches. So if someone searches “web design Boston,” they will see an ad that includes the words “web design Boston.” However, if they had typed similar terms like “web design New York,” your ads can change to reference “web design New York.” Do you see how helpful that can be??
I also recommend using a local phone number to back up your geo ads. No one likes calling a 1-800-number, so get a local number through your Google account that can forward to your business. This has a huge impact in generating phone leads because people are much more comfortable calling a local area code.
Lastly, when you write copy for your ads, think about the local perspective. Make references to location, weather, local events, and other ‘inside knowledge’ that will appear to the particular group of people in that area, whether it’s ? or ?️ or ?.
Running geo targeted ads just makes sense for many brands, small to mid-sized to multinational. This type of advertising allows your business to maximize effectiveness and return on investment by displaying ads to customers where they are most likely to convert.
If you’re not sure about using geography as a factor in advertising, you can always run a test. Run a small campaign targeting a specific ZIP code or city. Monitor your performance and use what you learn in this test to make adjustments for a bigger campaign.
Like I said above, you don’t have to use ONLY geo as a factor in your target audience. In fact, the best practice is to layer it with other targeting factors to reach your ideal audience.
Have questions about geo targeting? Want to learn more about dynamic keyword insertion and how to make it work for your biz? Let’s talk!