When we launched advanced location targeting in March 2011, we provided you with more control over how you geographically target your ads. Based on advertiser feedback, we’re implementing four additional enhancements that will make location targeting options clearer and more powerful. Here’s an overview of what’s changing.

Location targeting is now easier to understand.

First, we’ve reworded the options to help make them clearer. Here is what the options for advanced location targeting used to look like:

Here is what we’re unveiling today:

Show ads to people in a physical location, without exception.
Previously, if you had selected “Target using physical location,” your ad would show to people in your targeted location as long as they were not searching for something related to a different location. Now, when you select “People in my targeted location,” your ad shows to people in your targeted location, without exception.

Let’s say you are an airline using physical location targeting to reach customers in Atlanta, GA looking to fly to Hawaii. You have the keyword “flights to hawaii” in your ad group. Previously, your ad wouldn’t appear for any prospective customers in Atlanta that were searching for “flights to hawaii” because the search term indicated that they were interested in Hawaii. With the new setting “People in my targeted location,” the airline can now reach the customers in Atlanta searching for “flights to hawaii.”

This enhancement has been beneficial in increasing VEGAS.com’s ability to target offers to users based on where they are located at the time of the search. “As a leading destination travel site, our goal is to send the right message to a user as they plan their travel well ahead of time from their home market. Advanced Location Targeting has given us that ability,” said Dan Hippler, Vice-President of Marketing, Vegas.com.

Greater control over location targeting on the Display Network
Previously, the only location targeting signal applicable to ads on the Google Display Network was the likely physical location of the user. Now, both the location extracted from the content of the page and the likely physical location can be used, making advanced location targeting applicable for the Display Network for the first time. The default setting is to show to people “in” or “viewing pages about” your targeted location, but you can edit this option at any time.

Let’s say a customer in Atlanta is planning a trip to Hawaii and she’s looking at websites about fun things to do in Hawaii. A coffee plantation tour service from Hawaii would like to show ads about its offers to such a user. Similarly, an airline would like to advertise flight services to this user. The new targeting enhancements give the tour service and airline such capabilities, as both an ad targeted to Hawaii for a coffee plantation tour and an ad targeted to Atlanta for flights from Atlanta may now both show on the same page.

There are several situations in which we will not use location to target an ad. For example, a user reading about news in Hawaii may not be interested in “Hawaii tours”. For this reason, we currently only consider the location signal on a limited set of pages when we believe it may be useful. You can gain insight into the sites on which your ads are showing on the placement report, and into the locations on the geographic report.

Note that all campaigns targeting the Display Network will automatically be opted into the default option, which is to reach people in, searching for, or viewing pages about your targeted location. If you wish to exclude campaign traffic from people viewing pages about your location, you can choose “People in my targeted location” in advanced location options.

More easily avoid getting impressions for excluded areas
We have also changed the advanced location exclusion methods. Previously, the less restrictive option, “Exclude by physical location only,” was the default. Based on feedback from advertisers, we have re-worded the exclusion options and made the more restrictive option, “People in, searching for, or viewing pages about my excluded location,” the default. This way you avoid getting impressions for excluded areas regardless of whether your customers are located or interested in those areas.

What it looked like before:

What we’re launching today:

For example, now by default excluding Chicago means your ad won’t show for customers in Chicago or those outside Chicago who included “Chicago” in their searches.

This change will only impact newly created campaigns and will not affect existing campaigns.

Remember, advanced location targeting may limit the exposure of your ads, so it isn’t suited for all advertising goals.

To find out more about advanced location targeting or to change your settings, visit our help center. If you use AdWords Editor, details on how these changes will impact you can be found in the AdWords Editor help center.

Posted by Smita Hashim, Group Product Manager Local Ads