The Importance of Geotargeting, and How It Should Affect Your PPC Strategy

Targeting the right audience is an important trait for marketers. Learn more about one of the most powerful tools to use, in order to create ads efficacy

Keith Loria
December 17 2018

When it comes to pay-per-click (PPC), not all locations are created equal. Average income, demographics, click-through rates, and conversion all differ depending on where the advertising takes place. Certain products will do better in different regions. This makes geographical location something companies need to take into consideration. Having control of where your ads run can greatly affect your bottom line if you do the proper testing.

That’s where geotargeting comes in. Geotargeting is an effective way to ensure that your ad is only shown to relevant audiences who have the ability to convert. This significantly helps increase your ad’s relevancy, which will give you a boost in both CTR and return on ad spend as a result.

One of the important considerations for PPC campaigns is to know which locations you need to target – which all depends on the markets you’re converting.

The concept of geotargeting has been around as long as advertising itself, starting with billboards and other out-of-home displays. Online, geotargeting has evolved over the years to become a key ingredient for success.

Jitesh Keswani, CEO of e-intelligence, explains that if you are running a business related to a specific location or region, you do not need PPC ads to be marketed globally. Geotargeting enables the business to limit and specify its advertising based on specific geographic locations.

“Involving geotargeting improves the PPC performance by choosing to feature the ads in the best performing locations,” he says. “When the PPC campaigns are categorized by locations, you can easily measure the performance and it gives you better ROI.”

Moreover, with the help of geotargeting, you can optimize each campaign by adding bid adjustments to prioritize ads and serve them to high-intensity areas. Keswani says implementation of this tactic consists of increasing bid adjustments for ZIP Codes, which provide better click-through rates as well as conversions.

Kent Lewis, president & founder of Anvil, says geotargeting is one of the most powerful tools marketers can use to create advertising efficacy.

“One of the benefits of geotargeting is the ability to support account-based sales and marketing efforts, by limiting ad exposure to a close proximity,” he says. “The technique can be used to target competitors for recruiting. Other technologies can layer on top, such as adding geo-fencing around a specific building or complex. This is ideal for retailers to target in-store shoppers (even at competitors like car dealerships) with messaging.”

In Action

While Google AdWords has offered geotargeting capabilities for many years, other platforms like Facebook, LinkedIn, and Twitter have caught up. Lewis says social platforms have additional benefits beyond geotargeting, including demographics and psychographics – both of which allow for additional refinement.

Ronnie Joshua, PPC manager for SaferVPN, says geotargeting directly affects the success of your PPC campaign and can take it to a new level.

“It can deliver the most relevant customized keyword lists, ad copy, and offers to searchers in a specific geographic location,” Joshua says. “To really get the most out of your geotargeting, you have to find out which markets to target; it’s very critical for PPC. It means you need to know where your potential customers are. If you know which locations to target, it’s everything; if you don’t, you lose money.”

As one example, SaferVPN targeted expats in Scandinavian countries in Europe who needed secure internet access in order to overcome geo-restrictions to unblock specific content. Geotargeting helped increase business three-fold.

Joel Udwin, team leader of mobile products at Paytronix Systems, Inc., has recently spearheaded the adding of new account filters to its geofencing center that allow brands to send more targeted messages to guests when they are in proximity to a restaurant or store.

“By integrating geofencing filters directly into the Paytronix mobile apps, Paytronix gives marketers the unique ability to run targeted campaigns using generated loyalty data,” he says. “In fact, test campaigns demonstrate that 30-40% of guests who receive a geofence message will visit the location within 24 hours of receiving the message.”

In one case study, California Pizza Kitchen deployed the Paytronix filters to conduct a real-time geofencing campaign that successfully attracted 47.6% of the targeted loyalty members into restaurants.

These filters can send more relevant and targeted messages using existing loyalty data about customers, deliver a broader range of messages to targeted guests, coordinate campaigns across all delivery channels, and most importantly – increase sales.

Challenges Exist

One of the drawbacks to geotargeting is that it can sometimes be too limiting. For example, a significant amount of target customers are likely to reside outside of the target area, work remotely, or otherwise fly under the radar.

“As a result, it is important to build campaigns around intent and behavior, like searching for a Portland hotel from Germany,” says Kent Lewis of Anvil. “While we’ve targeted major cities internationally for boutique hotel clients in the past, it’s important to layer keyword targeted campaigns to capture those outside the target market.”

Jordan Harling, chief digital strategist for Blinds Direct, says geotargeting can make things much more volatile, depending on how specific you go (even down to individual city level) – as a change in mood, weather, or local events has the potential to completely derail your campaign.

“Take these sort of situations into account, and ideally make sure you fully understand the area you’re targeting when setting your ads,” Harling says. “When it comes to PPC, being more specific and targeted with your approach is almost always a good thing.”

The Final Word

As you increase your geotargeting on PPC platforms, test out different practices and copywriting strategies: this will show you what your audience responds to most. Split-testing different ads among different locations can even be beneficial if you’re targeting multiple distinct areas. Just know that every audience is unique, with its own tastes, interests, and local facts on the ground.


Keith Loria

A graduate of the University of Miami, Keith Loria is an award-winning journalist who has been writing for major newspapers and magazines for close to 20 years, on topics as diverse as sports, business and healthcare. You can view some of his recent writing at

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