Brad Geddes / PPC Geek
Official AdWords Seminar Leader.
Author of Advanced Google AdWords.
Co-Founder, Adalysis.
(312) 884-9017
Brad Geddes's Theories on Marketing Q&A: Does the content network follow location targeting rules?

Q&A: Does the content network follow location targeting rules?

I’m trying something new to see your reaction. I receive a lot of questions via email about PPC; in fact more than I can ever hope to answer. Some of them are much more popular than others – so I thought I’d try blogging the answers to various questions.

If you have a question, feel free to contact us with the ‘PPC Question’ subject.

Today’s question comes from an AdWords seminar attendee (don’t worry, I’m keeping the questioners anonymous) and concerns how location targeting and the content network work together on AdWords.

Location Targeting Overview

First a quick word about location targeting. When you choose a region, Google shows ads based upon someone being in that region or using geographic keywords which would show the intent to find information within that region.

For example, if you were targeting Chicago with the keyword hotel. Your ad could show in two situations. First, someone searched for hotel within the Chicago metro. The second way is someone searched for Chicago hotel.

In the first instance, the user being located inside the metro, this is an easy decision – location targeting equals user’s location and the ad is shown.

In the second instance, the assumption being made is that if someone is explicitly looking for information within a metro, then their location does not matter as their intent is to find information within that metro.

Hopefully that makes sense. If not, please comment or contact me and I’ll do a full post on the two location targeting options.

Content Network & Location Targeting

The content network follows all the rules set at the campaign level, and one of those is location targeting. So, in that instance the quick answer to the question is ‘yes, the content network displays ads based upon location targeting settings’.

However, there is also a slightly more ambiguous answer. The content network scans a page to find what the page is about to best serve ads. Therefore, if you consider the second instance above – someone looking for information within a geography, then it stands to reason that sometimes that may come into play in showing ads on the content network.

Therefore, if someone is reading a geographically based article, say about Chicago hotels, they may still see ads for Chicago hotels even though they are outside of that region.

If someone is reading an article about hotels in general, and they aren’t located in our example city Chicago, then they would not see the advertiser’s Chicago location targeted ad.

The Quick Answer

Don’t you love this is at the bottom of the post?

The content network follows all campaign setting rules.

Location targeting is a campaign setting rule.

If someone is within your target geography reading an article that corresponds to your AdGroup theme, then your ads can be shown.

If someone is outside your target geography reading an article that corresponds to your AdGroup theme and the article is about the geography your are targeting, your ads can show.

If someone is outside your geography and the article does not include your geography, then your ads will not show.

No Comments

  1. John Allen
    September 4, 2008 at 1:23 pm · Reply

    Well Ok, I am still a bit confused.

    I understand that for Search, Google’s location targeting uses the IP information of the searchers ISP to determine location (and the location of the server is irrelevant). However, for content ads Google would only know the ISP of the publishing site, not the person browsing the information (unless they got to the page from search) — Right?

  2. John Allen
    September 4, 2008 at 1:50 pm · Reply

    Less confused now. The Adsence code on the page is actually executed by the browser, identifing to Google your IP info.

  3. Brad Geddes aka eWhisper
    September 4, 2008 at 2:20 pm · Reply

    Exactly. AdSense is a script, and when a script like that executes, Google essentially ‘owns’ a section of the page. Since they own that section, they can get all kinds of information back about the browser, IP, etc to determine location and other information.

  4. David Szetela
    November 21, 2008 at 7:10 pm · Reply

    Brad – somehow I missed this post in September. My two cents: geotargeting on the Content Network works really, really, really well.

  5. Robert Coats
    February 3, 2009 at 2:32 pm · Reply

    Hi Brad, Great article and insight as always.

    I came across this post doing some research as to why so many UK sites are pulling up in our Placement Reports in an account that has targeting turned on for USA and Canada only.

    While I follow the logic that it is the viewers browser and IP address that triggers the ads it still seem like a disproportionate number of UK sites that we are generating traffic from. Which makes me wonder, if the geo targeting is not working as it should within the content network or if it is a matter of UK sites generating a large number of readers from the US. I guess the only way to know for sure is to view the websites in question as a person from the UK would and see if our ads still display.

    Since a trip across the pond is not within the budget for this test, it looks like I will have to find a UK proxy and see what my results are. I’ll keep you posted on the results.


  6. Brad Geddes aka eWhisper
    February 3, 2009 at 3:35 pm · Reply

    That’s interesting. Would love to see what your investigation finds.

    You can use the AdSense preview tool and the AdWords Preview Tool to help see what ads look like in different areas.

  7. buildit
    March 23, 2011 at 7:33 pm · Reply

    Been a while since there’s been any comments here so hope this strikes a chord with someone.

    I have an offline service business that I am promoting here in Sydney and I have scoured the top 50 odd listings for some relevant keywords to see what sites have adsense on them. I will include them for my only Content network advertising which will be Placement only.

    Because some of the sites that come up are from around Australia and overseas is it worthwhile including them in my placement campaign?

    Brad, am loving your site and especially what you give in your premium membership BTW.


  8. brad
    March 28, 2011 at 8:52 am · Reply

    buildit – I find that the hard part of placements is getting excellent, sustainable traffic. Therefore, I’m generally OK trying some placements that might not perfectly fit and then measuring the CPA. If that works – then leave it. If not, then delete it.

Leave a Reply