I've been having this odd problem with AdWords lately, and am very displeased with the folks at Google about how they've handled it so far. This isn't really lawyer stuff, so much of this will be in Greek for those who are not into SEM and PPC.
First I'll describe the problem. I run a campaign targeted to the Albany-Schenectady-Troy area of New York State. One Ad Group is for keywords related to DWI cases. The biggest keyword in that group is, not surprisingly, 'dwi' (I'm using the ' mark to indicate what keyword I'm referring to, but when I enter the keyword in a search, I do not use the quotes). A couple of other keywords that get some traffic are 'ny dwi' and 'new york dwi'.
So I noticed that my ads do not appear when I search for 'ny dwi' or 'new york dwi'. The ad from the same campaign does appear when I search for 'dwi'. The fact that the ad shows for 'dwi' indicates that the computer I'm using is seen by Google as being within the region I'm targeting. So then why doesn't the 'ny dwi' keyword work?
I should mention that my AdWords account indicates I am getting impressions and clicks on the 'ny dwi' keyword. But if they're not showing when I look for them, where are they showing?
So about a week ago I submitted a question to Google's AdWords team inquiring about this. Excerpts of the back-and-forth that ensued is down below. It does not reflect well on Google.
Since I was not satisfied, I called the number I was given in the last message. I spoke with someone at Google, apparently in the Bay Area. She was pleasant, but I still was not satisfied with her answer.
If I understand her answer, it is that Google has made New York City a special exception for AdWords. Google assumes that if someone searches for 'ny widget', the 'ny' in the search means they're looking for widgets in New York City. This ignites a long-standing frustration. For those of us from upstate New York, we often encounter people who think we're from New York City.
So here I am, in Albany, looking to display my ad to people in Albany who search for a term I've chosen, and Google has decided to circumvent my choice.
It gets worse. I still didn't understand why I was getting impressions and clicks on the 'ny dwi' keyword if the ad is suppressed here in the region I chose. She explained that if someone elsewhere searches for 'ny dwi', then my ad would show up for them because they might be looking for me. So Google is further circumventing my choice here. I want to display my ad in the Albany-Schenectady-Troy area, but Google has decided that my ad should actually appear anywhere but in that area.
I don't know if this violates the "Don't Be Evil" principle, but it sure violates the "Don't Be Stupid" one.
Now, with all of that said, I should mention that overall I am very happy with both Google and AdWords. Google is still my search engine of choice, and my only online PPC ads are with AdWords. I just think this reflects poorly on the company and hope this does not signal a downward decline.
I pasted the e-mail exchange below and going through it prompted some additional thoughts. First, forgive my political incorrectness, but I'm betting Deepa is not located in the US. Good chance he's in Bangalore. Second, notice that the 'correct' answer does not come until Deepa's last message, after three apparently incorrect responses.
The thread is below, edited mostly for brevity. I've also put it in the correct chronological order, from oldest to newest:
> > > From: firstname.lastname@example.org
> > > Subject: doesn't appear when I search, but shows impressions
> > > Date: Thu, 11 Jan 2007 20:39:25 -0800
> > > My ad for the term "ny dwi" doesn't show when I search, but my ad does show if I search simply for "dwi". I've checked this at various times of day on several different days, and don't understand why this is happening. Please review and advise.
> > > Thanks,
> > > Warren
> Hello Warren,
> > > Thank you for your email. I've looked at your account and found that your campaign is targeted by region. Google identifies a user's Internet Protocol (IP) address, which is assigned by a user's Internet Service Provider (ISP), to help determine the user's location. Then, we'll show ads targeted to that user's location. This means that only users with IP addresses in your targeted region usually see your ad.
> > > According to our records, the IP address you're using is either unidentifiable, or is located outside of your targeted region. As a result, you may have trouble seeing your regionally targeted or customized ads. However, our records indicate that your ad is appearing for users whose IP addresses are read as located within your targeted area.
> > > The following tips may help you to see your ads in your customized or regionally targeted campaign: [tips omitted]
> > > We look forward to providing you with the most effective advertising available.
> > > Sincerely,
> > > Deepa
> > > The Google AdWords Team
From: "Warren Redlich" < email@example.com>
Subject: Re: [#100223937] doesn't appear when I search, but shows impressions
> > Date: Fri, 12 Jan 2007 07:49:44 -0500
I disagree with your analysis. My "dwi" keyword from the same Ad Group is appearing on my computer, so my IP address is within the targeted region. I have seen this from 2 or 3 different IP addresses within my region. Please review this again. – Warren
> > Thank you for your reply. When possible, Google analyzes users' search queries for location-specific information in order to show regionally targeted ads. Because the name of your region or city is clearly displayed in your keyword, the system does not show the ad as you are targeting Ontario-Quebec in Campaign 'Ontario - Quebec' and Albany-Schenectady-Troy NY in Campaign 'DWI & Traffic.' If you search for 'Albany Ny Dwi' or 'Troy Ny Dwi,' you will see your ad appearing on top of the search results. Therefore, your ad shows up for the keyword 'dwi' as it does not have a specific location assigned to it. However, for the keyword 'ny dwi,' the system recognizes that the search is for defense attorneys in New York and, so does not show the ad for specific regions in New York or Canada.
> > To learn more about targeting your ads, visit
We look forward to providing you with the most effective advertising available.
> > Sincerely,
> > Deepa
> > The Google AdWords Team
> Thanks for your reply. Unfortunately I'm still confused. Looking at my account today, I see that there were 24 impressions and one click in the last 7 days for the keyword 'ny dwi' in my Albany-Schenectady-Troy NY targeted campaign -- DWI & Traffic ad group. So if your message is correct, I should not see any impressions or clicks at all for that keyword in that ad group. … Please take the time to review this thoroughly and give me an answer that makes sense.
> One particular question -- if I delete the 'ny dwi' keyword in the Ontario-Quebec campaign, will that make the keyword work better in the Albany-etc campaign? Warren
> Thank you for your response, and for your continued patience. Let me start with an example. Lets say you have 2 campaigns relating to hotels - Campaign #1 is targeting New York and Campaign #2 is targeting Los Angeles. You have the same keywords in both campaigns - 'New York hotels' and 'hotels in new york.' When a user searches for the keyword 'New York hotels,' ads in Campaign #1 show up as it is targeting New York. The probability of ads in Campaign #2 showing up is very less as it is targeting Los Angeles. Moreover, when the user enters a location in his keyword, the system recognizes that he wants results which are specific to that area. Therefore, the ads targeted to New York will show. However, if you would want ads targeting Los Angeles to show up, then you will have to edit the keywords and do not make them location specific. For example, in Campaign #2, you can change the keyword 'New York hotels' to 'top hotels' or 'hotels in los angeles.'
This same logic applies to your account. Users may see your ad when they use location-specific search terms on Google, even if they're located outside your targeted area. For example, a user in Texas searching for 'Ny Dwi' on Google will see ads targeting New York as the system recognizes the location New York in the keyword. The reason you are getting impressions or clicks for Campaign 'DWI & Traffic' is because people are searching for your ad from Albany, Schenectady, or Troy. …
> Additionally, please note that deleting the keyword 'ny dwi' from Campaign 'Ontario - Quebec' will definitely help Campaign 'DWI & Traffic' to perform well. Also, you can use generic keywords like 'dwi' or 'dwi laws' for Campaign 'Ontario - Quebec.'
> The Google AdWords Team
[ A sidenote here – I did pause the Ontario-Quebec campaign and this had no effect ]
I really don't think you're reading my question carefully and would like you to forward this problem to your supervisor.
Below you state:
"The reason you are getting impressions or clicks for Campaign 'DWI & Traffic' is because people are searching for your ad from Albany, Schenectady, or Troy."
I am in Albany, and the ad doesn't show up when I do a search for 'ny dwi'. So how am I getting impressions and clicks on this keyword on a campaign targeted to my area when I don't see the ad when I do searches for the same keyword from the same area (using 3 different IP addresses in the area).
Keep in mind that I do see ads when I search for just 'dwi'. Please forward this to someone who is better able to answer my questions in a sensible manner.
Thank you for your email. The technical team has replied and they say that you are unable to see your ad when you search on the keyword 'ny dwi' as our system parses this query to New York City and not to parts of New York state where the your campaign is targeted to.
When possible, Google analyzes users' search queries for location-specific information in order to show regionally targeted ads. This search functionality currently shows ads targeting the United States, the United Kingdom, Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Netherlands, Spain, and selected cities worldwide.
If your campaign targets a location where this search functionality is supported, users may see your ad when they use location-specific search terms on Google, even if they're located outside your targeted area. For example, a user in Manchester, England, searching for 'London hotels' on Google will see ads targeting London.
[omitted is the instructions for calling for follow-up]
This still does not explain why my Ad Group shows impressions and clicks. At this point I'm extremely dissatisfied with your handling of this. I'd like to actually get an e-mail from someone on the technical team.