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Location Targeting - how accurate is it?

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# 1
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I want to setup location targeting for my city, Mississauga, ON (700,000 approx). Mississauga borders the City of Toronto (6.5 million approx). I'm worries that some devices in Mississauga may be recognized as Toronto devices because Toronto is the bordering major city. Should I include Toronto in targeting or is Google adword targeting able to accurately recognize which city a search query originates from in addition to when mobile devices cross in from Toronto to Mississauga?
3 Expert replyverified_user

Re: Location Targeting - how accurate is it?

Top Contributor
# 2
Top Contributor

Hi Hishamsulieman, and welcome to the forum.  Location targeting really isn't an exact science - at least not when you're talking about all potential devices.  Google uses several different methods to determine a users' location and while some of these can be quite accurate, others are far less so.  How good or bad the targeting is appears to vary from country to country, region to region.


It's really a matter of how important the precision is, and what happens when you test it.  The results may be fine, there's no way to tell until you try.


Bear in mind that what's really important - at least initially - is not whether you're seeing clicks outside your chosen area but whether AdWords as a whole returns a positive Return On Investment (ROI).  If you're seeing clicks outside the area but your Account is still making you a Net profit then it's simply an area that maybe could be improved.  If you're getting clicks outside the area and it looks like they are the cause of poor performance, that's obviously a different problem.


I'd test it with a small budget for a couple of weeks and then examine the results.  Make sure you have all the necessary Conversion tracking in place and verified as working before you spend the very first dollar.



AdWords Top Contributor Google+ Profile | Partner Profile | AdWords Audits

Re: Location Targeting - how accurate is it?

Rising Star
# 3
Rising Star

Google uses a number of cues to determine location and two of the main ones may give you trouble with your geotargeting: 


1) User-input data - If a user is logged in to their account and has their location set to "Toronto", then they won't see ads limited to your bordering city. (People do that if they spend a lot if their time in the larger city and want to see search results dates from there. This will remove them from the population that sees your ads.)


2) ISP-provided data - An internet service provider may provide suburb/city level data for users in a different location than the ISP is physically located, or they may report that at all of their customers are in their physical city. The choice is theirs and different ISPs have different policies.


Neither Google nor any other website can provide performance more accurate than the data they're given to work with.


However having said that, let me add that tracking data accuracy improves all the time, especially since mobile device users seem to be very willing to have their physical locations tracked.


My advice would be that you target whatever physical area you actually want to serve and see what traffic levels and performance look like initially. You can always optimize from there.

Google AdWords Top Contributor

Re: Location Targeting - how accurate is it?

Top Contributor
# 4
Top Contributor



A quick addition to the above comprehensive answers

Mobile targeting is much more accurate. if GPS is on (as the default by most smartphone users today) - the accuracy is within a range of meters.

So, keep that in mind, when upgrading to enhanced campaigns.

Moshe, AdWords Top Contributor , Twitter | Linkedin | Community Profile | Ad-Globe
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