The More You They Know

Which is the more effective form of location-targeting, Opt-in or opt-out? Maximizing the reach of ads to the most qualified audience in terms of their physical location is pivotal to any online marketing campaign. Based on the intuitive interface of locations settings, one might assume that the formula for success in geo-targeting involves a “plug & chug” method of opting in for all of the locations one hopes to reach. Experience has taught us that this is not always the case.

We have found that the more granular the targeting, the less impressions an ad will receive. This is not groundbreaking; in fact, it is to be expected.
However, the exponential nature of the decrease of impressions in relation to sequential levels of the specificity of targeted geographic locations is not necessarily intuitive. What does this mean?

In certain cases, an opt-out approach, that is, targeting a larger geo for the campaign and then excluding geographic units to piecemeal the desired geographic range, can result in a greater reach for the campaign than if one had simply opted to include traffic from the desired geography. But, why?

Enter Adwords Support:

If Google cannot match the user’s location to the selected geography, then the ad will not be served. How does Google establish user location? Through IP Addresses & Device information based on GPS, Wi-Fi, & Google’s proprietary cell towers.

In dense population centers, we have found that Google’s location reporting capabilities perform their function well; they can attribute users to a highly segmented geography without restricting ad reach or impression share too much. However, outside of these densely populated centers, the returns of investing time in segmenting out location targets to a zip-code level have been minimal.

This recent case-study provides an illustrative real-life incident where highly segmented opt-in location targeting didn’t quite live up to its promise.

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