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Using Geo-Targeting to Boost Your PPC Results

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Everyone knows we're in a recession. When companies cut spending, one of the first things to go is often advertising dollars. According to ZenithOptimedia, overall ad spending is expected to decline 8.5 percent this year.

Internet advertising is defying the trend, though, and is expected to increase by more than 10 percent in 2009. And much of that money is being spent in PPC.

With more advertisers jumping on the PPC bandwagon, it's becoming more difficult to maintain market share online. PPC marketing is perceived as a highly effective use of advertising dollars due to its high ROI, trackability, and ease of entry. As a result, more money is moving from traditional channels to PPC.

While that's great for the SEM industry, it means more competition -- and sometimes translates into a tougher market for PPC advertisers. Combine the increased competition with low consumer confidence and spending levels, and it often leads to higher cost-per-conversion for advertisers.

Paradoxically, another outcome of the recession is a reduction in search volume, especially in certain verticals such as travel. Fewer consumers searching for products and services means fewer prospects for advertisers.

With more advertiser competition for fewer prospects, it's critical to get creative in finding new pockets of opportunity for online dollars without blowing the metrics out of the water. One such way is by making extensive use of geo-targeted PPC campaigns.

Geo-targeting is an obvious choice for local or regional advertisers who can't, or don't want to, serve a national audience. However, geo-targeting can also be a great choice for national advertisers who want to expand their reach.

Geo-target PPC Campaigns to Key Feeder Markets

Travel clients, in particular, can find success with this by drawing the most, or best, customers. One of the great things about geo-targeting is the ability to bid on general terms that you can't afford on a national basis.

For instance, buying the term "Las Vegas Hotel" on a national scale is pricey, and the ROI may not be all that great. But buying "Las Vegas Hotel" in a three-state region around Vegas can work very well, because those searchers are more likely than average to convert.

Supplement Offline Advertising Campaigns

This is another effective use of geo-targeted PPC. Syncing up an online message with TV, radio, and outdoor campaigns, which are often regional in nature, and repeating the message as closely as possible online in those broadcast markets, is a great way to build brand awareness and help with message recall.

This method works especially well for e-commerce marketers who want to capture searchers early on in the search funnel. General keywords can be used, as well as phrases from the offline creative -- many of which would be expensive and/or ineffective on a national basis, but are very targeted on a geo-level.

Promote Online Contests and Giveaways through Geo-targeting

As you can imagine, bidding on "free coupons" and "sweepstakes" nationally costs a fortune. However, bidding on these terms in a single designated marketing area is surprisingly affordable.

Better still, geo-targeting provides a great source of leads for the client from individuals looking for freebies who probably weren't initially seeking out the advertiser's product or service. If you're looking to build an e-mail database of prospects in an inexpensive way, running a geo-targeted online contest that requires an e-mail address to enter can be a very effective way to add to your e-mail database.

Geo-targeted ads also tend to get good quality scores, resulting in lower click costs than can be had on national campaigns. Lower CPCs translates to lower cost per conversion and higher ROI.

If you're faced with a limited PPC budget or want to get in on the action earlier in the search funnel by bidding on general phrases without blowing your budget, consider geo-targeting. All three major PPC engines offer it, and it can definitely be a worthwhile source of PPC leads.

Submissions are now open for the 2009 Search Engine Watch Awards. Enter your company or campaign before July 17, 2009. Winners will be announced at SES San Jose.


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