Last week I covered the different levels of Google AdWords Geo-Targeting and now I’ll cover how Google determines where to show your ads.
Google uses three different factors to determine when they should show your Google keyword-targeted ads:
1. The Google domain being used (.fr, .au, .de, etc),
2. The actual search query used,
3. The user’s actual physical location, based on IP (Internet Protocol) address.
1. The Google domain being used: if a visitor uses a specific Google domain like google.fr (the Google domain for France), they’ll see ads targeted to France, no matter what country the visitor is in.
2. The actual search query used: if someone uses a search query with a city, county or recognizable region in it, Google will show custom-targeted ads for that region. I could be in Chicago, but search on “New York dry cleaners” and see an ad targeted for New York.
3. The user’s actual physical location, based on IP address: Google will use a visitors IP address, when possible, to help show the most relevant ads. So if someone with a New York area IP address searches on the term “dry cleaner,” Google will show ads targeted to New York, even though New York wasn’t in the search term.
Now the most important part of this statement is the IP address, because this only is as good as the information Google gets. At one time, the JumpFly IP address (we’re in Elgin, a suburb of Chicago) was listed as Atlanta, GA. Even now, we’re listed as Park Ridge, IL. So if I was to do a search for “dry cleaner,” I’d see ads targeted for the Park Ridge area, not Elgin which is a slight problem because Park Ridge is more than 25 miles from Elgin (You can go to http://www.geobytes.com/IpLocator.htm and check out your IP address). Plus, AOL users are all mapped to Reston, VA, regardless of what their physical location is because AOL uses proxy servers.
Roughly speaking, IP addresses are accurate about 75% of the time in the US, give or take a few percentages, but it declines rapidly from there. I’ve read that in Canada, a huge number of people use Bell as their provider, which maps to Toronto even if the user is in Quebec.
The bottom line is that geo-targeting is great, but it’s not perfect. And you can check where and how you show by going to www.google.com/adpreview and selecting different countries, states and cities. For additional information and a brief video about finding your pay-per-click (PPC) advertising ads at Google, you can refer to a previous JumpFly article titled Finding Your Own Ads.