#HeroConf Presentation: Leveraging Geography for PPC Success

heroconf portlandLast week, I had the opportunity to speak about optimizing for geography at HeroConf. In case you missed my panel, or would like to reference it, you can find it below! I’ve done my best to summarize it in this post and would love to hear any questions that you might have in the comments section.

Unfortunately, when we take over accounts, we generally see that geography was set up at campaign launch, never to be changed again.  This was the premise for my session.  There are many efficiencies to be gained by fluidly monitoring and optimizing to geographic data. The engines have set the precedent by creating geographic bid modifiers, but modifiers are still somewhat shallow in terms of the optimizations that are possible. Read on to find out how you can dig into your geographic data to make informed optimizations.

Setting Up Your Campaigns

I don’t believe geography is a static setting that is meant to “set and forget”, but I do believe the set-up of campaigns is important to future performance (then again, does anyone not believe that?). Geography should be included as a component in your campaign strategy from the very beginning, beyond simply checking boxes for the locations that you can do business.

There are some really useful location settings that will allow you to set up really specific geotargets as efficiently as possible.  If you aren’t familiar with these targeting options, I’d really encourage you to check them out:

  • Bid Modifiers
  • In vs. Searching For
  • Income Targeting
  • My Locations
  • Bulk Location Uploads

Optimizing For Geography

Equally as important as the set-up process, though, are the ways that you slice and dice your data and the optimizations that follow.  I touched on three core reports (Geographic, User Location, Distance) and 6 analyses that can be performed along with actionable insights for each.  Unfortunately, of these three reports, only the Geographic report is available in Bing but, hey, I’ll take what I can get.

The Geographic Report

  • Exclude Your Losers:

    • The Analysis: Pivot your Geographic Report and add a conversion slicer with a value of 0 to easily spot geographies that are draining budget without generating return.
    • The Optimization: Exclude the losers to ensure budget is going toward geos generating return.
  • Find Your Outliers:

    • The Analysis: Pivot your Geographic Report sans slicers to find which geographies are performing radically better or worse than your campaign average. (Note – this assumes that your campaign average is currently acceptable. If not, you may want to make more aggressive optimizations.)
    • The Optimization: This optimization is highly dependent upon your outliers. You may want to exclude locations that are generating conversions if they aren’t sustainable in terms of ROAS. You may want to add modifiers to rectify high CPA/low ROAS geographies or to maximize top performing geos. If your outliers are somewhat extreme, you may even want to consider separating them out into their own campaign so that you can be more deliberate about the keywords, bid modifiers, dayparting and messaging.
  • Analyze Search Intent Performance:

    • The Analysis: If you have search intent enabled (as opposed to solely targeting people in your geographic location), then you’ll want to ensure it is performing well. I like to do this by creating a pivot table comparing search intent by physical location for each campaign.
    • The Optimization: If search intent performance performs negatively for any campaign, you may want to exclude it.
    • Further Analysis: If search intent generates a lot of leads but has a high CPA you may want to go one step deeper into your analysis before making any exclusions. You can do this by reviewing search intent performance by geography within each campaign.
    • The Optimization: If there’s a handful of geographies that stand out with high CPAs, you can consider adding negative bid modifiers, which will also impact searchers that are physically in those locations or you can separate out those geographies into their own campaign and then target only people in those locations.

The User Location Report

  • Exclude Your Losers:

    • The Analysis: Take a look at how geo-locationss of users outside of your physical location are performing by pivoting the User Location Report with a conversion slicer set at 0.
    • The Optimization: Take the geographies that are wasting spend and add them as exclusions. The alternative is to disable the advanced setting that allows users outside of your geo-targets to see your ad based upon search intent. Just keep in mind that having search intent enabled often performs well and can generate some additional volume.
  • Find Opportunities for Expansion:

    • The Analysis: Quite the opposite of the previous optimization, pivoting your User Location Report and picking out high volume/low CPA geographies can help you to identify expansion opportunities.
    • The Optimization: Consider taking high volume locations that aren’t currently within your geotargets (only generating visitors as a result of intent) and creating a new campaign to target them using geo-modified terms. This will allow you to control settings and bids to maximize volume and efficiency. I still wouldn’t recommend excluding these locations from the original campaign or removing the location intent setting because there are many other ways that Google identifies search intent, aside from geo-modified queries, and you wouldn’t want to lose out on the other forms.

The Distance Report

  • Find Your Optimal Radius:

    • The Analysis: If you have location extensions enabled, the distance report will provide insight as to how your site visitors perform in relation to their proximity to your physical locations.
    • The Optimization: This is helpful because if you’ve set a radius of 30 miles around each of your physical locations and you find that performance is fairly consistent from 1-30 miles, you might want to test expanding your radius targeting to capture more visitors. On the flip side, if your budgets are capped, and you find that site visitors 1-5 miles from your store perform best, you might want to narrow your targeting to ensure that your budget is spent on the searchers most likely to convert.

For more details and screengrabs, feel free to take a look at my deck or ask a question in the comments. If you have alternate geographic optimizations that you like to make, I’d love to hear about them in the comments!