This month, we continue our exploration of cross-compatibility issues between Google Adwords and Microsoft adCenter, and how understanding the subtle and not-so-subtle differences, PPC campaigns managers can design and build portable and easier-to-manage campaigns that take both networks into account.
In last month’s column, we explored strategies for dealing with negative keywords and made a general recommendation that something as simple as implementing negative keywords at the ad group level can make it much easier to manage them across networks.
This month, we’ll take a closer look at how geo-targeting works on Google and on the Bing/Yahoo Search Alliance, and explore the two fundamental differences between their geo-targeting offerings, which can have major implications for your structuring your campaigns and ad groups.
Fundamental Differences In Geo-Targeting
Both Google and Microsoft offer a robust set of geo-targeting options. They both give you the ability to target entire countries, states and provinces, and drill down to reasonably precise metro areas as well.
While Google offers a few more “bells and whistles’ such as defining target areas with circles or polygons and excluding areas from targeting, clever marketers can generally achieve their targeting objectives with either network’s feature set.
However, there are two major differences in how the geo-targeting is implemented that drastically impacts the portability from one platform to the other. The first difference is where geo-targeting is specified; the second is how your ads are scheduled for delivery.
Microsoft adCenter allows you to target delivery at either the campaign or ad group level. This gives you greater flexibility in how you structure your campaigns.
Let’s take the case of an insurance company which does 3 lines of business in 50 states. Because you can set delivery options for location at the ad group level, you can create this sort of campaign/ad group hierarchy:
This set up is logical and allows you to easily report out your business lines along campaign levels, while it also allow you to run state specific campaigns and have them shown only to users in those states.
Within Google Adwords, this same structure isn’t possible because geographic targeting is only allowed at the campaign level. To set geo-targeting for your insurance line ads by state within Adwords requires you to setup your campaign/ad group hierarchy like this:
However, since standard accounts are limited to 25 campaigns, you can’t address each state individually unless you get a special exception from Google to increase the maximum allowable number of campaigns in your account.
A second big difference in how geo-targeting is implemented differently on the two networks is how ads are scheduled for delivery. Microsoft adCenter delivers ads based on the timezone of the user making the search.
If you have specified that you’d like your ads delivered daily from 1:00 – 3:00 pm in Topeka, Kansas, and you have already specified geo-targeting for Kansas, adCenter knows what time it is in Topeka and will deliver the ads accordingly.
Google, on the other hand, delivers ads based on the time specified in your campaigns.
For instance, within Adwords, in addition to specifying geo-settings to deliver your ads in Kansas, you also will have to specify when 1-3 pm occurs in Kansas relative to your account settings.
If your account is set up for Eastern Time, then you have to take the additional step of telling Adwords to deliver your ads from 2-4 pm because that is the equivalent time of day, as Central time is one hour shifted from Eastern Time.
Implications On Cross Platform Compatible Campaigns
Unfortunately, because of these fundamental differences in how geo-targeting is implemented, there is no easy way to build out your campaigns and ad groups so that they are portable across both networks.
If you design your campaigns to take advantage of ad group level geo-targeting within adCenter, then you will have to live with a different account structure in Adwords.
Even though you can’t easily leverage your account structures from one network to the other, being aware of these differences in geo-targeting settings will help you optimize each of the networks accordingly.
Opinions expressed in the article are those of the guest author and not necessarily Search Engine Land.