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Google Ads has quietly released an update to its advanced location targeting options moving from targeting ‘People in your targeted locations’ to ‘People in, or regularly in, your targeted locations’. Over the past few years, Google has slowly broadened the targeting options that were once available to us. This latest update continues that trend by using Machine Learning to help make decisions or us.


What updates have been made to Advanced Location Options in Google Ads?

Ultimately this change is designed to target commuters and people who regularly travel to/visit the destination that you are targeting.

With the old setting of targeting ‘People in your targeted locations’, this excluded everyone who searched for your target locations and anyone that was not physically located in that target location. Essentially it allowed you to target people who were searching for your keywords in that physical location at that time.

Now, this update means that you will not only be targeting people who are searching in that physical location, but also people who regularly commute/visit that location regardless of where they are when they search.

Advanced Location Options Google Ads


Why have Google Ads updated the Advanced Location Options?

Continuing to broaden the targeting

There are a few reasons why Google Ads has made this update:

  1. More opportunity for advertisers
  2. Google is forcing more Machine Learning in decisions
  3. A more relevant experience for users
  4. Google make more money
  5. All the above

More Opportunity

This setting allows you to target more opportunity that you might have missed. You can now target people who are on their way to work in that target location, if they have a home outside of the location. For these cases, you could argue that your campaigns are still relevant for those people, so this new opportunity is welcomed.

Continuing to use Machine Learning to make decisions

As mentioned, it’s a trend that we have continued to see accelerate over the past few years. Google’s Machine Learning is being used to help advertisers make decisions on who they should target; there is argument whether changes such as this are for the better or not. We’ll continue to see changes such as this accelerate throughout the next few years, so the more prepared we are now the better.

A more relevant experience for users

Yeah you could argue that if people are regularly travelling/visiting the location that you are targeting, then it’s also in their interest to see search results relevant to that location. But it could cause issues if your products/services are only designed for very specific area catchments. You might end up needing to add lots of Excluded Locations to your campaigns from surrounding commuter areas.

Google make more money

Of course this is the case. They won’t have been able to make the change unless there was some financial benefits to doing so. The additional opportunity creates a wider net for advertisers to target, which means an increased revenue for Google.


What does this mean for you?

Check your ‘Distance, User Location and Geographic’ reports

This might give you some additional insight and you could see people visiting your locations from further afield.

There are three reports you need to consider here, and Google Ads Help has a lot of information on how you can use them effectively:

Location Options Reports Google Ads

Credit: Google Ads Help, 2019

You can use this to see if you see any shift in behavior and performance. This update is subtle so we don’t anticipate this hindering on a significant scale, but it’s worth monitoring if this changes your Geographic makeup.

Audit your campaign settings

Make sure that you audit your accounts and ensure that you have a consistent approach to your location targeting.

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Dan Roberts

Founder & Author at PPC hubbub
Dan has worked in agencies for over 5 years and was awarded Rising Star at The Drum Search Awards for the work delivered for his clients and wider industry. Dan founded PPC hubbub after becoming frustrated with the lack of actionable insight from blogs.

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