How accurate is Google Ads location based targeting?


Google Ads location-based targeting can be quite accurate, but the level of accuracy depends on various factors, including the user’s device, IP address, GPS data, and Wi-Fi network information. Here are some factors that can affect the accuracy of Google Ads location-based targeting:

  1. Device type: Mobile devices tend to provide more accurate location information as they have built-in GPS, while desktop devices may rely on less precise methods like IP addresses.
  2. GPS data: GPS can be highly accurate, often within 5-10 meters, but its accuracy can be affected by factors like tall buildings, trees, or weather conditions.
  3. Wi-Fi network: Wi-Fi networks can provide fairly accurate location information, especially in urban areas where Wi-Fi access points are more densely located.
  4. IP address: Location data based on IP addresses can be less accurate, especially in rural areas or with VPNs and proxies. IP-based location data can vary from city-level to country-level accuracy.
  5. User consent: Users have the option to share or withhold their location data, which can impact the accuracy of location-based targeting.

While Google Ads location-based targeting can be quite effective, it’s essential to keep these factors in mind and understand that the accuracy might vary. It’s also important to continuously monitor and optimise your campaigns for the best results.

Is it common for people to be targeted who are outside of an advertiser’s desired area?

It is not uncommon for people outside an advertiser’s desired area to be occasionally targeted by location-based ads. Several factors can contribute to this:

  1. Inaccurate location data: As mentioned earlier, location accuracy can vary depending on the data source, such as GPS, Wi-Fi networks, or IP addresses. In some cases, the available location information may not be accurate enough to correctly determine whether a user is within the desired area.
  2. User movement: Users may move in and out of the targeted area during the duration of an ad campaign. For example, a user could be targeted while they are within the area but might leave the location before interacting with the ad.
  3. Proximity targeting: Advertisers have the option to target users based on proximity, meaning they can target users who are near the desired area. This might result in users who are just outside the targeted area being shown the ad.
  4. VPNs and proxies: Some users might use VPNs or proxy servers, which can obscure their actual location or make it appear as if they are in a different area than they really are. This can result in targeting users who are not in the advertiser’s desired area.

While it’s not uncommon for people outside the desired area to be targeted, the overall targeting accuracy is generally effective for most use cases. To minimise the chances of targeting users outside the desired area, advertisers should regularly monitor and optimise their campaigns, adjusting location settings and targeting radius as needed.

Are meta or google believed to be more capable in this regard?

Both Meta (formerly Facebook) and Google have robust location-based targeting capabilities, as they both have access to vast amounts of user data and advanced algorithms for ad targeting. Comparing the two platforms can be challenging, as their strengths and capabilities differ in certain aspects.

Google’s location-based targeting strength lies in its search advertising and integration with Google Maps, which provides highly accurate location data from users who have enabled GPS on their mobile devices. Google also leverages IP addresses and Wi-Fi networks to estimate users’ locations.

Meta’s location-based targeting strength is primarily in its social network platform (Facebook and Instagram). Meta has access to user-provided location data, such as hometowns, current cities, and check-ins, as well as location data from mobile devices when users have location services enabled for Facebook or Instagram apps. Additionally, Meta can gather location information from users’ connections, interests, and activities on the platform.

While both platforms offer accurate and effective location-based targeting, their effectiveness depends on the specific use case and campaign objectives. Advertisers should consider their goals and target audience when deciding which platform to use for location-based targeting. In some cases, using both platforms in a complementary manner may be the most effective strategy.

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