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How Does Google Process Unknown Search Locations?

[ Edited ]
Visitor ✭ ✭ ✭
# 1
Visitor ✭ ✭ ✭

Howdy, 

 

I'm running a campaign that has certain zip codes excluded. 

What happens when the location of the individual performing a query is unknown?

How does Google process that search?

Hypothetical:
Bob is in one my excluded zip codes, but Google doesn't know his location when he makes the search. Does he see my ads?

Hypothetical:
Bob is not in one of my excluded zip codes, he makes a search, and Google doesn't know his specific location, but it knows that he's in the same state that my campaign is running. Does he get attributed to a major metropolitan area by default? If so, would he then be excluded if that major metropolitan area overlaps with my excluded zip codes?

Thanks for the help!

2 Expert replyverified_user

How Does Google Process Unknown Search Locations?

Rising Star
# 2
Rising Star

@Sam O

 

I think the answer is going to be relative to the search that Bob performs, and your advanced location settings.  If you have it set to the default, and Bob's query specifically includes your overall area, the ad will trigger.  If you have it set to "people in my targeted location," then the ad would not trigger.

As for your second hypothetical, either Google knows or doesn't know. I'm not aware of it only being able to tell state.   

You have to understand that geo identification can work a couple of different ways.  The first and most accurate would be GPS info from someones phone or aircard on laptop and possibly desktop. GPS info is generally not enabled by default due to privacy settings. Other ways that are less accurate include locations provided by the ISP from a whois of the IP, and also information from the connecting servers when performing a trace route of the IP.  

The point to understand here is that these last two methods are not exactly zip code accurate. Someone on their desktop could physically be in your excluded zip code, but their Internet connection head-in is located in one of your included zip codes. Therefore, they would see your ad.

Spending too much effort on excluding people in specific zip codes can potentially cause you more harm than good. It's better to have your ad serve to a few people that you don't want, than unintentionally exclude a lot of people you do want.

How Does Google Process Unknown Search Locations?

Top Contributor
# 3
Top Contributor

Location will be attributed to the most restricted location mapping available in a given territory,

For example, in the US you can map users up to a zip code, while in another country it  could be attributed to  a city location.

Moshe, AdWords Top Contributor , Twitter | Linkedin | Community Profile | Ad-Globe
Did you find any helpful responses or answers to your query? If yes, please mark it as the ‘Best Answer’

How Does Google Process Unknown Search Locations?

[ Edited ]
Badged Google Partner
# 4
Badged Google Partner

"Bob is in one my excluded zip codes, but Google doesn't know his location when he makes the search. Does he see my ads?"

 

That depends. As @David Kyle already stated - Assuming there is no location term in the query, then No. He is excluded, period. If your targeted location is included in the query, then it depends on your advanced settings. If you are only targeting users in your targeted location, then No - If Google doesn't know, then they don't guess. If you are targeting users in or searching for your targeted location, then maybe - If you are targeting terms with a location modifier that is included in the query. In short, it is more likely than not that Bob is excluded, because you are being so specific with Google in terms of your location targeting.

 

"Bob is not in one of my excluded zip codes, he makes a search, and Google doesn't know his specific location, but it knows that he's in the same state that my campaign is running."

 

"Does he get attributed to a major metropolitan area by default?"

No. If your targeting is that specific and Google can't determine the exact location, that user is not going to see an ad. There is no "default to". "Major metropolitan area" is not a targeting option in AdWords. Nielsen DMA's, etc., etc., but not "major metropolitan area".

 

"If so, would he then be excluded if that major metropolitan area overlaps with my excluded zip codes?"

No, or Yes... The question is based on a false assumption, so I don't know which answer is right. Smiley Happy Like @MosheTLV said, the targeting is restricted to your most restrictive targeted location.

 

If Google can determine that users specific location, and they are in an excluded area, then they won't see an ad. If Google can determine location, they are in a targeted area, then they will (might) see an ad. However, depending on your advanced settings and the user query, they could be in another country and still may see your ad.

 

Zip code targeting can be a great addition if you want to use bid modifiers for specific zip codes in a larger area. However, zip code targeting is likely far too restrictive as the only form of location targeting. Because user location signals and location targeting are not perfect, you will have to experiment with location targeting as well as continue to optimize your account until you find something that works for you.  

Tom

How Does Google Process Unknown Search Locations?

Visitor ✭ ✭ ✭
# 5
Visitor ✭ ✭ ✭

Thanks so much for your feedback. This was helpful. Feel free to comment if you ever gain new insight on the issue. 

How Does Google Process Unknown Search Locations?

Visitor ✭ ✭ ✭
# 6
Visitor ✭ ✭ ✭

Thanks so much for your feedback. This was helpful. Feel free to comment if you ever gain new insight on the issue. 

How Does Google Process Unknown Search Locations?

Visitor ✭ ✭ ✭
# 7
Visitor ✭ ✭ ✭

Thanks so much for your feedback. This was helpful. Feel free to comment if you ever gain new insight on the issue.