Location, Location, Location: Paid Search Geotargeting Strategies for Retailers

Posted by Andrew Sandoval, Associate Account Manager

Geotargeting services from Google, Yahoo!, and MSN allow advertisers to efficiently allocate search campaign resources at a local level.  With geotargeting options available today, audiences can be targeted at the country, state, city, and even ZIP code level to generate high potential ad placements.  These options allow advertisers to create a local audience and generate opportunities for optimization.  Here are a few examples of effective geotargeting strategies:

·         Support Regional Promotions – Perhaps a few particular branches of your business are clogged with back inventory.  Maybe you want to offer a “Buy 1, Get 1 Free,” sale to clear some badly needed shelf space.  Geotargeting allows you to target shoppers in one locale with the offer, but not in another locale if your retail branch there doesn’t need to clear out inventory.  With geotargeted campaigns, you can tweak ad text to your audience.  This means “Buy 1, Get 1 Free,” copy can be served to searchers in the same city or ZIP code as your retail location.  In more sparsely populated areas, it might make sense to target surrounding cities as well, or to set up a ZIP code radius to target all searchers within a certain distance of your store.  Using a geotargeted campaign to compliment local radio/TV spots will make sure your promotion is a hit!


·         Assist Struggling Locations – Maybe certain branches of your business aren’t performing as well in comparison to your flagship sites.  Geotargeting strategies allow you to keep tabs on a local campaign and manage bid strategies accordingly.  If the slumping location is in a competitive market, bids may need to be increased to maintain a position that may be cheaper in a less competitive area.  Bids can be further optimized to push the most effective keywords in that location; meanwhile, pulling back on the terms that don’t seem as effective.  Also, new ad copy or a display URL mentioning the location could further emphasize your relevance and give you an edge over competitors.  Geotargeting allows the granular analysis needed to get results in particularly competitive markets.


·          Make National Campaigns Relevant – Nearly any campaign can be geotargeted to achieve maximum efficiency.  Before advanced geotargeting options were offered, a brick and mortar retailer in 30 states had to rely on geomodified keywords to generate local traffic.  Now that retailer can fine tune their “national” campaigns to reach those 30 states.  The retailer can also stretch into surrounding states through focusing on specific ZIP code radii and metro areas.  Advertisers no longer need to resort to negative geomodified terms to weed out unwanted search traffic.  Instead, advertisers can pick and choose which states to serve ads to.

The opportunities available through geotargeting go far beyond what I’ve described here, but these basic ideas should be a good start to exploring the tool.  The true power of geotargeting may lie in the data it gives us about searchers in a certain location and how their behavior differs from those in another region.  Identifying these trends helps build a knowledge base for future initiatives and further ensures efficient performance wherever your business needs it.

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