Paid Search Geo-Targeting Hierarchy

Location, location, location was once the mantra of successful businesses in regards to brick-and-mortar organizations.  With so many businesses online these days, it would be expected that location may no longer frustrate success; if your business is online, it’s everywhere.  Oh, but not so fast; location very much matters online, and that’s where Google’s geo-targeting solutions come into play.

There are many different ways in Google in which you may geo-target locations.  You can target by country, state, city, zip code, or custom location by dragging points on the map.  You may also target by DMA (Designated Market Area), which is defined by Google as

“Media markets in which people can receive the same or similar television and radio station offerings, as well as offerings of other media types, such as newspapers. DMAs are defined by Nielsen Media Research, and are used to identify specific media markets for those interested in buying and selling television, advertising and programming.”

What if your business could benefit from displaying different messages to someone searching at the state level as opposed to the zip code level, but you want to speak to both audiences?  There are ways to reach to everyone with a different message.  First, you must understand the hierarchy of the geo-targeting capabilities.

Let’s say there are three campaigns set up with the same keywords but different geo-targeting.  One campaign targets at the state level, one at the DMA level, and one at the zip code level; the targeted areas are Ohio, Cleveland-Akron (Canton), and 44304 (our zip code at the office), respectively.

If someone in Columbus, Ohio searches for a keyword that is common in all three campaigns, they will be served an ad from the campaign that is targeting Ohio at the state level.  If someone in Cleveland searches for this same term, they would be eligible for both the state level and DMA level campaign ads.  They would end up being shown the ads from the DMA targeted campaign.  The most specific targeting will take over.  Lastly, if I were to search for this same term while here at the office, I would see the ads targeted to 44304.

This could be an important tactic for some businesses, such as banks and real estate agencies, where audience locations may be specific.  For example, the state level might show them the state headquarters, the DMA might show them the regional headquarters, and the zip code targeting would allow them to see the local branch.

Photo courtesy of davidrossharris.

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