Geographic Targeting In An Enhanced Campaign World

AdWords enhanced campaigns will force many advertisers to change their campaign structures. One of the benefits that have been touted for enhanced campaigns is that you will need fewer campaigns, thus making AdWords easier to manage.

For mobile targeting, this is true, as the ability to target mobile devices is now gone. However, for the targeting features that are left, such as location targeting, you might not want to consolidate your campaigns just for easier management.

In today’s column, we will examine how locations affect your campaign structure and if you should change your structure to match the new enhanced campaign benefits.

Location Bid Modifiers

Most accounts do not have the same conversion rates by geography. In some cases, the changes are small; but in other cases, the changes can be quite dramatic.


In this instance, the CPA of San Antonio is double that of Philadelphia. Therefore, we would not want to bid the same for each of these locations. Before enhanced campaigns, in order to bid separately by location, we would need to create a campaign for each location and set bids based upon the keyword CPA by region.

With enhanced campaigns, this will not always be necessary. One of the great new features is bid modifiers based upon locations. With bid modifiers, you can automatically adjust your bid for each location being targeted.

For instance, we can set our keyword bids as normal based upon some global CPA numbers, and then tell AdWords we would like to bid 32% higher for the Philadelphia region and 39% lower for the San Antonio region.


Before you can set a bid modifier for each location, you must add them to your campaign targeting section. If you don’t add each location to your campaign targeting, then you will not be able to set a bid modifier by location.


The good news is that this is very simple. You set bids as normal and then automatically adjust your bid by region.

The main limitation is that this is a campaign-only setting. If you have some keywords that do better in San Antonio than Philadelphia, but overall San Antonio is worse so you’d want to use a negative bid modifier, you cannot exclude keywords from the bid modifiers nor have bid modifiers at the keyword level. Of course, having that level of control would be incredibly difficult to manage by hand, so using campaign bid modifiers is a nice middle step.

The bad news is that these changes just affect the keyword bids for the entire campaign. They do not allow you to adjust the budget or ads for each region. In some cases, you still want to make different campaigns for some locations.

If you are a national company that has never tried to manage bids or budgets by locations, this is a great feature to get you started examining how various locations affect your CPAs so you can start to bid them separately or even target the users differently by location.

Please note, the geographic bid modifier only works with CPC bidding, either manual or enhanced. As with all bid modifiers, it is not compatible with CPA bidding or budget optimizer. The only exception is that you can bid –100% (setting your bid to $0) to not show if the auction uses that bid modifier.

Controlling Budgets

Several years ago, one of the main issues with splitting out your campaigns by region for bidding purposes was that you might have a single budget target, and you didn’t care which region received the click and spent your money, as long as the correct bid was used and you didn’t go over your total budget.

The shared budgets feature fixed this issue for advertisers and created the opportunity to easily use multiple campaigns without fretting over how to split the budget between campaigns.

Some companies have budgets by region. This is common in areas where there are co-op marketing budgets involved, multiple franchise locations, or physical store locations. If you want to maintain budgets by region, then you still want to maintain separate campaigns by region as you cannot split a budget between regions with enhanced campaigns.

If your regions are large, such as the northeast, southwest, and so forth, then you can use bid modifiers within those regions to tweak your CPCs; however, your overall structure of keeping your regions separate for budget reasons is still sound with enhanced campaigns.

Geographic-Specific Ads

One of the main reasons to separate locations into various campaigns is to ensure that the ads speak to that particular geography. The most common instance of this is adding the region to the ad’s headline. However, it is also done to match offline promotions or test responses to offers by region.

If you have split out your campaigns for the purpose of using different ads by region, you will not want to reconsolidate your campaigns as you will lose your ability to specify specific ads by geography. So, if your main reason to use multiple campaigns is for ad serving, you will want to leave your campaigns separated.

Ad Extensions

The last major reason campaigns were split up by region was for extension usage. You might have different sitelinks, offers, or location extensions you wanted to use by campaign. As none of the extensions have a geographic ad serving component (except for the location extension), if you want different offers or sitelinks by region, you still need separate campaigns.

With location extensions, you can decide to bid differently for someone who is within the reach of your location extension. If you first add your location extension as a location target, you can then set a bid adjustment for someone in that radius.


If you have physical locations where you want the customers to come to your business, this is a welcome change as someone who is within a mile of your restaurant is usually worth more than someone who is 30 miles from your location.


Enhanced campaign bid modifiers make it easier to manage location-based bids if all your keywords have similar CPAs by region. The ability to set a bid adjustment based upon the user’s proximity to your location is also a welcome change. If you want a simplistic AdWords account, and yet have the ability to set different bids by region, the new enhanced campaign features are a very welcome change.

If you are an advanced advertiser who wants to change budgets, ads, extensions, or individual keyword bids by region, when you upgrade to enhanced campaigns, you will not want to consolidate campaigns just for location targeting purposes. You will still need to consolidate campaigns based upon device types, but you won’t do it for location purposes.

If you have segmented your campaigns by location, you can still take advantage of bid modifiers within the campaigns as locations often have sub-locations (states have metros, metros have cities, etc.) that will commonly have different CPAs by each region which you can micro-manage with bid adjustments. If you are using location extensions, then please take advantage of bid modifiers by location extension reach.

The launch of enhanced campaigns is one of the biggest changes Google has ever implemented, and it will change how AdWords accounts are created, structured and managed. While enhanced campaigns gave additional features to location based bidding, this new campaign type should not force you to reorganize most account structures based solely upon location targeting considerations.

Opinions expressed in the article are those of the guest author and not necessarily Search Engine Land.

Related Topics: Channel: SEM | Google: AdWords: Enhanced Campaigns | Paid Search Column


About The Author: is the Founder of Certified Knowledge, a company dedicated to PPC education & training; fficial Google AdWords Seminar Leader, and author of Advanced Google AdWords.

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  • Larry Kim

    nice write up, brad. thanks. couple of questions here. Say i have a campaign that was previously just targeting USA. Would you recommend splitting it up into 50 different campaigns, say one for every state, to find out differences in performance based on geography, then bid differentially based on ad performance on each location? Earlier when it required campaign segmentation i would have never given it a thought – way too much overhead. now, i’m tempted to try it out.

    Also, do you happen to know what happens with overlapping geographic regions. Like say i have one region as Boston, the other as Massachusetts. Does it resolve overlaps? how? (eg: pick the higher bid or pick the more specific region?)

  • Vance Woodward

    Excellent overview of some of the new tools (and challenges) now at our disposal. While I think it can sometimes be unclear what motivates Google to make these changes, I find they can generally be trusted to always be improving and strengthening their advertising platform. This is excellent to help people (especially new users) understand some of the changes currently being made

  • Kevin Lee

    Interestingly over the last two years the Didit team and I worked to perfect a system by which we optimize based on conversion rate, order size and LTC all based on geography (auto-cloning the master campaigns into hundreds or thousands of child campaigns all synched to the master). The essential element that predicted variation was audience (demographics a big factor). So, we were able to build a huge data warehouse that uses first and third party data to isolate neighborhoods at a granular level and big higher there. The new Enhanced platform just makes it easier to bid boost within a campaign as opposed to the cloning system. However, one can ten ad creative by geography and get the QS higher in a separate campaign making that superior in many cases.

  • Terry Whalen

    Hi Larry, you should be able to get geo-specific performance data without splitting the US-targeted campaign into 50 smaller state-targeted campaigns. Just go into Dimensions/geo and you can see the state-by-state performance. Then, after you’ve enabled the campaign as an Enhanced Campaign, target the campaign to each state (rather than leaving it set to target ‘U.S.’), and then you can tweak bids at the state level, based on the performance data you saw in the dimensions tab.

  • Terry Whalen

    Brad, this is written clearly – it helps to clarify all this stuff in my own head! Thanks!

  • Brad Geddes

    Hi Larry,

    Terry mentioned how to get the data; so I’ll skip that one.

    As far as bid modifiers go; Google will try and use the ‘most specific one’. So, if you target Massachusetts, Boston, and Hyde Park (or a location extension radius); and the user in in Hyde Park, that bid should be used even if its lower than the other location’s bids.

    Now, it’s almost impossible to test this; so for now; I think we’ll have to take Google’s word for it.

  • Brad Geddes

    I think Google is starting to realize that a lot of the crazy segmentation many of us do is for demographic purposes. I think we’ll see demographic bidding for search (its on display now; but its pretty small inventory) sometime this year and more bid modifiers roll out over the next year or two.

  • RenaldosWalkman

    Just to be sure, is this Location bid multiplier applicable to desktop bids in addition to mobile bidding? I had heard it was only for mobile bids.


  • Brad Geddes

    The campaign bid adjustments are used in every auction regardless of device (if you’e -100% mobile; you won’t be on mobile). So, even on desktops, Google uses the location and ad scheduling bid adjustments.

  • Jerry Nordstrom

    Kevin – Have you and or your team been able to model campaign structures and potential outcomes in a visual manner with this data?


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