Ok, I'll say it. "I love Google Adwords." Let's be honest. They have a better interface that is more user friendly. They offer more tools that display better results whether it be for initial research or campaign management. Adwords easily drives more traffic than Yahoo and MSN. Most importantly, Google Adwords provides better geo-targeting options than any other pay per click vendor out there. All of that is, of course, my own personal opinion.
So you're running an AdWords campaign for your business, but you only want to target specific locations. How can you do that? Easy. You just go into your campaign settings and set the location to the area you want to target. But what options do you have? Simon Heseltine over at Search Engine Guide has put together a number of ways you can utilize geo-targeting and Google Adwords to benefit your business.
Google recently updated their interface to catch up with Yahoo Search Marketing's panama release in December 2006. This new release nicely integrates maps into the existing targeting system. In fact, the new features not only help them catch up with Yahoo!, they've moved them way ahead of Yahoo!.
So how granular is the targeting on Adwords?
Continent level? Country bundling is a new feature, and allows you to quickly select a group of geographically similar countries, which you can add to and subtract from as needed.
Country level? Most companies will go with the default of US, but consider your audience. If your products are targeted towards armed forces personnel you may want to add countries like Germany, Afghanistan and Iraq.
State level? Even apart from state-wide business possibilities there are interesting options here. Consider a politician aiming to influence people in certain states during the primary season.
Metro level? In the old system you had no idea whether metro level encompassed a specific suburb. Now with the map you can see for certain. (Note: The zoom capability gives you much more visibility than that in Yahoo!.)
City level? You can add as many cities as you want from to the list, not necessarily contiguous.
Radius around a point? Just don't try to go down to a 3 mile delivery radius for your pizza place.
Custom shape? - In case you wanted to target those 'inside the beltway' politicians.
So what else is new? You can now exclude areas within your target. So say you want to target the entire US except for Tennessee, you just select the entire US, then select Tennessee as an exception. Here's an example with bits of New Jersey taken out of the Philly Metro area.
Of course, you still have all of the existing issues with geotargeting, in that the ads will be shown to users based on where their IP address resolves to, which may or may not be where they're physically located, or based on the content of their search (if someone is in Peoria searching for Atlanta Restaurants, then it makes sense to show an ad for a restaurant that geotargets to Atlanta). However, these features do make the process of setting up geotargeting for your campaigns much easier.
Hey Yahoo!, Google's made the move; it's your turn to try to jump over them in this game of leapfrog.