June 29, 2020

Bulk Radius Targeting in Google Ads

What happens if you’ve got a large number of locations you’d like to radius target? Say, every university campus in the US. Or the 250 largest companies. It's not intuitive, but it can be done!

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Google Ads can be weird about location targeting. You can bulk add cities/states/countries/etc via the web interface. But radius targeting? You can only do one at a time. What happens if you’ve got a large number of locations you’d like to radius target? Say, every university campus in the US. Or the 250 largest companies. These would be more ideal for true geo-fencing, but that’s not an option with Google Ads. You can, however, layer the smallest radius option (1km) with additional targeting like audiences to get fairly close. In smaller cities or rural areas, it’s a solid enough system. In Manhattan it could really fail. 

That said, how do you implement something like this? Easy, just open up Google Ads Editor and paste your locations like this:


Okay, that’s not super easy or obvious. But it’s not hard. It just takes a few steps. 

Step 1. Geocode!

There’s a number of options for this. We like geocod.io - as they’re freemium and even what you pay for is cheap (I did a 4,500 address list for this example that cost a hair over $1).

You can upload a spreadsheet here or even just copy/paste. 

They’ll run through your data and normalize it / give you a preview.

From there, it takes a few minutes, but you get a spreadsheet with all your info. 

Step 2. Clean & Concatenate!

Your results will vary a bit based on the tool you use and your source list quality. I had quite a few addresses that could not be located or that had a very low accuracy score. I filtered to only keep the ones that had an accuracy of “1”, which is the most precise. 

Next we just need to get our data into the correct format for Google Ads Editor. Breaking down what you saw earlier, that format is [distance][unit]:[latitude]:[longitude] - or in Excel we do this:

Make sure you get the formatting right or Google will give you some funky errors.

Step 3. Make it Work!

Depending on what you’re using this for, the next part could require some creativity. The easy part is getting the data into Google Ads Editor. You go to Keywords & Targeting > Locations and click Make Multiple Changes.

However, campaigns have a max of 500 location targets. So if you’re going after every University in the US, you might have to split that up or narrow your list. One workaround I’ve been okay with is duplicating the campaign, giving it a shared budget, and splitting the locations across the duplicate campaigns. With that many location targets, you’ll need to be mindful of a handful really stealing your budget and potentially pause or move those locations to their own campaign with a dedicated budget.

But regardless, there you have it. In about 15 minutes time I took 4,500 addresses - geocoded and cleaned my list and launched my big radius targeting effort. 

What do you think?

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