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Geographic Targeting in Paid Search: 2011 Changes in Review

Geo-targeting your paid search campaigns?  2011 brought some changes to how geographic targeting functionality can be applied in both Google and Bing.  While Google removed some previous functionality, Bing added to theirs.  Below is a review of the year’s major changes related to geographic targeting in paid search.

Google Ending Custom Shape Targeting Option

Advertisers on Google were previously able to specify a geographic area using multi-point or custom shape targeting, where they were able to draw a polygon around the desired target area.  In May of this year, Google announced that this feature will be disabled as of July, however, will be supported if currently being employed through the end of 2011.  If your campaigns currently utilize this feature, it will need to be changed prior to December 31st, otherwise, Google will make the change in the account based on either city targeting, or a radius from a map point.

Read the original Google AdWords blog post on the topic:

Google’s Location Targeting Tool Gets a Makeover

If you employ geographic targeting in AdWords, the location targeting tool may have looked a little different lately.  On October 31st, 2011, Google unveiled a re-vamped version of the tool.  The map view is useful (and existed before).  The new tool also offers a reach statistic, which shows the approximate size of the audience in a given area.  Some areas that are labeled at “Limited Reach” are ones where Google may not be able to IP target to users, but rather will only display ads if users ad a related geographic modifier to their query.  This information can be useful to define areas where targeting may not be completely accurate, or perhaps too narrow.  The new tool also streamlines the process in that there aren’t multiple tabs to click on depending on how you want to target.

However, with the positive changes, there are also some negatives.  First, the option to enter a zip code target no longer exists.  While zip targeting was always touted at largely inaccurate, advertisers who have a list of zip codes must now match them with city or town names for purposes of entry into AdWords.  The other negative, and more major one is the inability to bulk upload a series of geographic targets.  Previously, the functionality existed to copy and paste a list of cities (for example) into the tool.  With the new version, each city needs to be entered individually.

Read the original AdWords blog post on this topic:

Proximity Targeting Launches in MSN AdCenter

In June of this year, Bing released the ability to target ads as a radius from a location.  Previously, only city and country based targeting was available on this engine.  Advertisers can now specify how far out from their location, they would like ads to appear.  Additionally, advertisers have the ability to set the targeting settings from specific landmarks or public buildings, as well as their own location.  Within AdCenter, the targeting functionality can be set at either campaign or ad group levels.

Read the original MSN post:

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