PPC Help: AdWords & Polygon Geo-targeting Tool

PPC Help: Geo-targeting
Everyone needs PPC help, and this series is part of our blog post series to help you improve your paid search campaign in 10 days.

Start with our introduction to PPC Geo-targeting 101 and then read on to learn a common mistake with paid search geo-targeting.

Geo-targeting a campaign is simply another option advertisers can use to fine comb their AdWords campaign and save money to be sure their advertising is going to the right people. With geo-targeting, you choose the geographic area where ads are shown. Google then finds out where a searcher’s physcial location is based on the IP address of the searcher. There are a handful of tools one can use to geo target a campaign. The one we are going to discuss today is the custom shape tool in adWords.

In June Google announced they’d be phasing out this custom shape tool.  Although this is slightly old news in the world of paid search at Trada we’ve noticed a good amount of our clients still coming to us with the custom drawn target areas still inplay on their campaigns.

Honestly, we still catch ourselves implementing this tool from time to time, but this multi-point tool used to finely tune geo targeting is being phased out for a reason and will be obsolete by the beginning of 2012.

But What Did Polygons Ever Do to You?

The fact of the matter is, there is a glitch in the custom shape tool that aren’t doing us paid search peeps any favors. Please note, after the feature is discontinued, the radius tool will be your best option on AdWords to custom geo target campaigns.

IP Addresses

The purpose of a polygon shape is to target specific areas of your metro area or community where you’d like your ads to run. Maybe you’d like to target Kentwood but not Godwin Heights (Can you guess where I grew up?). Geo-targeting a campaign is EXTREMELY smart and a great way to save money when doing paid search, but only if you know how its working.

The major malfunction with the polygon tool in AdWords is, although it looks like you will only be showing your ads to searchers within your defined areas, the truth is Google defines location based on IP addresses, and most websites within your custom shape are not hosted at IP addresses within the area.


We are located in beautiful Boulder, CO. As a company located in the historic downtown area,  it’s safe to assume that if an advertiser were to draw a custom shape around Boulder, we would be included. But, it’s not the case.

if you check out the free site http://whatismyipaddress.com/ you will see that my IP Address at work puts Trada somewhere in Denver – 40 minutes southeast of where Downtown Boulder is and where I actually am. The circle on the map below is showing us the area Google can best guess where I’m searching from. But the google is wrong.

I’m in Boulder (seen in the top left corner of the map) almost 40 miles away from where Google thinks I am. CONUNDRUM!

This is not a special case. It might be time to start moving away from the polygon and back to  the rounded edges of a radius geo targeted campaign.

Where does Google think you’re searching from?  Test your IP address and share with us what you find in the comments below.

There are many other opportunities we will continue to discuss with you in this geotargeting for success series, so stick around. Any questions regarding geo targeting you’d like us to cover? Please share them below or tweet me at @PattyBaragar.





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