When it comes to targeting an audience for a message or advertisement, marketing campaign managers fantasize about laser precision – getting right down to the neighborhood, subdivision, address, individual consumer even. In the days before online advertising, AdWords and the like, when media mail (read: junk mail) advertising ruled the streets, so much paper and printing and postage was downright wasted on whole address regions that had little interest or need for whatever product or service the advertiser was hawking.
Example: In 1965, you could blanket every address in Schenectady, New York with coupons for your lawn-mowing service and lose up to 45% of that marketing effort to whole areas of the city where apartment dwellers were predominant. Back then, that meant wasted efforts and wasted money. But back in 1965, that was as good as marketing could get.
Fortunately, we’re much smarter and much more capable now. In recent years, certainly after the rapid proliferation of the home computer and the popularity of the Web, ad targeting has become much more data-driven and computer-assisted. This, in turn, has created a much higher potential for ad campaign success. Less waste, less cost = more success.
As competent as modern marketing and advertising may seem, there is, however, always room for improvement. Granular is never granular enough for some. But until the day marketers can broadcast messages that appear out of thin air right before our eyes (we’re hinting toward you, Google Glasses), we’ll have to stick with the levels of granularity that are accessible to us via our available systems. Fortunately, due to some additional tweaking to AdWords by Google, that level of granularity just got a bit more… well… granular.
Last week, Google announced that AdWords was given a new feature – the ability to target AdWords ads down to the ZIP Code level. This is a bonus feature that allows AdWords campaign managers to create more locally-relevant ads. In fact, AdWords campaign managers will be able to add up to 1,000 postal codes at a time – without having to create multiple ads for multiple locations.
The AdWords tweak is actually two-fold. In the first part, we’re now allowed to target areas by specific ZIP Codes. In the second part, the new Location Insertion feature allows us to write one single ad that can be instantly updated with granular-level location information. And when the ad is triggered in this location or that, Google automatically updates your title, ad text content, and URL with location-specific information. With Location Insertion, Google can do this for all of your locations – at scale!
According to Inside AdWords, the official Google AdWords blog, “If you customize your direct mail, outdoor ads, or newspaper ads at a postal code level, you now can easily do the same in AdWords in the US. We are introducing the ability to target more than 30,000 US ZIP Codes with your AdWords campaigns… and with location insertion, you’ll no longer need to create multiple ads for multiple locations.”
So, with the new ZIP Code database at your fingertips and the location insertion feature, you can write one ad that serves all of New York State and your Ad Impressions in Schenectady would be both targeted and personalized to the user.
Note: If 30,000 US ZIP Codes sounds like a lot – it is. There are only about 43,000 ZIP Codes in the USPS database.
The takeaway: Being able to craft highly-relevant ads that target specific postal codes means that your Certified Google AdWords marketing managers (like those here at Sweet Spot Marketing) are able to reach more of the right kinds of consumers and, hopefully, build more authentic relationships based on demographics and product or service qualities.
Postal code targeting for AdWords is warmly welcomed and highly beneficial. But there are those who believe it may be a bit overdue. As marketing professionals, we’ve been able to custom-tailor direct mail, outdoor ads, newspaper ads, and a number of other collateral marketing materials to the postal code level for quite some time. In this incredibly-wired, data-driven world we live in, it would seem reasonable to expect that online marketing would afford the marketing manager the same kind of granularity as something you could post in bulk to a neighborhood or paste-up alongside a specific stretch of roadway. Especially when it’s Google.
In the end, ZIP Code targeting means more geographic control over targeted ads. Additionally, it is also expected that an AdWords campaign with this type of granular-level targeting will help foster a stronger community around your brand, as well as grow your network through consumer referrals.
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