In a quiet announcement made last month, Google indicated that some changes would be made to their geo targeting. The most noteworthy of the changes is the loss of the custom shape or polygon targeting. For those not familiar with the custom targeting option, it allows advertisers to draw a shape around any geographic area to only show ads inside that shape.
Custom targeting allows complete control and opens up campaign strategy possibilities not available anywhere else. Here are a few examples of how this targeting has been used in the past:
- Let’s say a satellite internet providers best customers are in rural areas, custom targeting allows them to draw lines around major cities to cut off unwanted impressions and ad spend to only show ads to people who need their product.
- Luxury hotels might want to target certain areas of the country where personal income is higher than other areas. Custom targeting is a great resource for this strategy.
- Franchise systems have hundreds to thousands of individual physical locations that have very defined marketing boundaries that must be observed so that no two franchisees are overlapping. Custom targeting allows franchise systems the flexibility to organize and operate a PPC campaign effectively at such a hyper-local level.
Here is a quick review of the changes and when they go into effect.
Changes to existing available locations
Due to changes in real-world geography or the existence of duplicate or overlapping location targets, Google is removing certain location targets in countries such as Japan, Denmark, Spain and the Netherlands, among others. For example, in 2010, six provinces were abolished in Finland, and while AdWords users will no longer be able to target these provinces, they can continue targeting cities in Finland. If you are currently targeting any of these locations in your existing campaigns, you should migrate them to the recommended targets in the list. Otherwise, Google will migrate them automatically. Please review the list carefully since some of these changes will result in migration to larger locations.
Sunset of custom shapes (multi-point or polygon targets)
AdWords users will no longer be able to add multi-point targets. You will still be able to view and delete existing shapes in your current campaigns, and Google will continue to use them until the end of 2011. After that, all polygon targets that are still present in AdWords campaigns will be migrated to available locations such as a nearby city or a map point with a radius. Google encourages users to replace their polygon targets with these alternatives or they will migrate them automatically at end of 2011.
Removal of Show Address in the Adfeature
In some countries, AdWords users currently have the option to show an address with their ads by checking the “Allow address to show in my ad” option for campaigns that target an area around a map point. This option will no longer be available. To display a business address or phone number, users will need to use AdWords location extensions.
In the big picture, custom targeting is an advanced campaign targeting tactic that is not meant for the average business or advertiser. By targeting this way you potentially limit your impressions and clicks, but those clicks become very qualified as a result. With Google pushing local (Places, Offers, Hotpot, Boost) so hard it’s a real surprise this option was taken off of the table, but maybe they have something else up their sleeves? Does anyone else see this as a loss or is this something that was only utilized by a small group of advertisers?