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Geotargetting - Playing Hide and Seek with Google

Posted by Steve Cameron
Steve Cameron
Steve Cameron is the Director Owner of Advent Communication. With more than 25 years experience he has a deep...
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on Friday, 06 June 2014 in Google

I'm lucky. Luckier than most. It takes me 5 minutes to drive from my house to my office.

I can stay in bed until the very last minute and still get to work on time.

And yet my office is 625 kilometres from my house.

OK - not completely true.... it's true that my house is a 5 minute drive from my office. And it is true that I stay in bed until the last possible moment most mornings.


It's also true that if I check my geo-location with Google in my office I am, indeed in the beautiful coastal town of Marbella about as far south in Europe as one can get.... but if I check my geo-location with Google at home, I'm in Madrid, 625km away.

We have recently seen the implications of this in one of our local campaigns where Google's geo-targeting simply fails. And it's not really Google's fault.

Imagine I am a local service - a hairdresser. Unless I am Vidal Sassoon people are not going to travel that far to get their hair cut. The maximum someone might travel would probably be less than 50 miles. So I set a 50 mile radius for my advertising - sounds right, right?

Now let's go back to me as a potential customer (although in fairness I have little use for hairdressers). If I search from my office I will see the targeted ads. If I search from home, however, I will not.

Ah, but what if I search on my mobile device? Well, if I am at neither location there's a good chance Google will correctly locate me... that's a simple one - they just have to look for the repeater tower that is sending me the signal. But if I'm at home, I connect to my router via wifi, and I'm back in Madrid.

We have clients who have set very tight geo-targeting - sometimes as tight as 2 or 3 miles. And we have seen them struggle to trigger impressions.

This may work in some countries, but there are many countries (and regions of countries) where the broadband networks run from city hubs and more outlying areas will more likely be "relocated".

We have found success by widening our catchment area - often to include the nearest of these hub cities - and then using locator keywords to do the geo-targeting for us.

It's an effective two-pronged attack..... have one campaign set to a tight geo-target around the business using keywords such as: hairdresser, and another campaign using a wider catchment area, but using keyword such as: +hairdresser +marbella

Don't rely on Google's geo-targeting. They do their best, but they depend on signals that do not always reflect the reality of the situation.

Where in the world are you? How well does Google locate you? Want to know.... open up Google Analytics and click on real time reporting. Then, in another browser window, open your site and see how you are represented. I'm 625km away from where Google thinks I am - how far away are you?

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