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Google AdWords Tips

Tuesday
Feb102015

Beware AdWords Campaign Settings for Location Targeting

Think your Google Display Network dollars are being well spent?  Better look more closely to be sure!

We recently made a shocking discovery in one of our clients' Google Display Network campaigns.  Google was delivering display ads far outside our targed locations.  Clicks from these locations consumed significant budget and affected our overall Cost Per Acquisition, making it difficult for us to hit our CPA targets.

This particular client's business draws heavily from surrounding states, specifically:  NY, NJ, PA, MD & DE. However, they occasionally receive leads and business from outside those 5 states, i.e., MA, VA, RI, NC, etc.

So, we targeted locations for their GDN campaigns (both managed placement and contextual) as follows:

 

For our Contextual campaign, we employ very specific Display Keywords and significant category and site exclusions in an attempt to maintain high quality visibility and clicks. 

Historically, this campaign has performed well with these settings and approach.  However, recently, it became a management challenge, and bounce rates rose significantly, so we dug into what might be causing low quality clicks. In addition to reviewing the automatic placement URLS, we analyzed performance by location.

First, we reviewed the "Geographic" report in the Dimensions tab for this client, which revealed all traffic from the United States (good).  Note from the following screenshot that all of the $2,485.15 spent on this one campaign in January was attributed to the US.

Next, we reviewed the "User Locations" report.  Uh Oh.  This report reveals that only $1,960.90 was attributed to clicks from the United States.  Over $524 worth of clicks were coming from way outside our target, including the Middle East, Asia and South America (NOT OUR CLIENT'S MARKET!):

 

Next, we enabled the "Most specific location" column in the User Location report and found that of the top 10 locations in terms of cost, only 4 were in the US!  Oh, and what's up with "other / other"???

Adwords User Locations Most Specific Report

While many of the locations only drove a dollar or two of cost, their collective cost was very damaging to this campaign, i.e., "death by a thousand paper cuts".  So, what did we do?

We contacted our Google rep and supplied them the evidence above as well as an automatic placement URL report from Analytics.  We had to create a custom report to pull the evidence we needed to confirm our suspicions about the low quality clicks from outside the US.  Note the 100% bounce rates:

We are pleased to report that Google agreed with our contention that this client's GDN ads were subject to "low quality" traffic, and they have applied a credit to our client's AdWords account for February.  While this is great news for our client, it's a bit disturbing that this can happen.  Google explained that the clicks could have leaked in because the visitors were searching google.com instead of their own country's Google domain, i.e., google.com/iq for Iraq.

It's also worth pointing out that www.gosur.com helps users find hotels for destinations around the globe.  Our client's business is in no way involved in this industry!

To ensure that this "leakage" no longer poses a threat to our clients' GDN campaigns, we have implemented the following campaign settings change:

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