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Friday, October 24, 2003

Google First to Roll Out "True" Regional Targeting

Google has launched a beta version of regional targeting for Google AdWords advertisers. Geotargeting has been one of the most-talked-about developments at search marketing conferences this year, and now it appears the future has arrived.

Google's competitor, Overture, is experimenting with local targeting options, but they don't offer this degree of convenience for advertisers.

Before this, advertisers could set their campaigns to show only in specific countries. This technology was triggered by the searcher's IP address and Google claimed it was 99+% accurate.

Local targeting won't be quite as accurate but uses a similar method.

Previously, advertisers used imperfect methods like bidding only on phrases like "buffalo ny personal injury firm," but this would depend on the user typing in the geographic designation as part of their regionally-focused query, something they might not always do. Now, firms in (for example) the Buffalo area can simply bid on the generic term (such as "personal injury lawyer") while targeting only their local area, paying only for the clicks that truly target their intended audience and having to jump through fewer hoops to achieve the targeting effect (much like placing spots on local TV stations).

How will this affect advertisers and per-click bid prices? It's likely that in some areas, bid prices could actually go down slightly as advertisers have a chance to turn their ads off for inappropriate locations. On the other hand, advertisers who target a specific area will now likely want to raise their bids, taking the savings from the improved targeting and applying them to increased visibility in their target region.

Another thing to note is that this ability to target ads to regional buyers may make the advertising even more attractive to users than the main web index results. Clickthrough rates on ads could see a slight boost as a result.

On the whole, it's a powerful step forward towards reducing friction between buyers and sellers online. Some advertisers will be able to reduce their overall ad spends while actually gaining more customers. In the meantime, Google should look forward to the entry of a whole new class of advertisers: local businesses who, thus far, found it too expensive or too cumbersome to pay for ads online.

Posted by Andrew Goodman




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