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Today’s guest contributor for Search Spring Cleaning Week is Skai’s™ own Desirea Calvillo, Sr. Product Marketing Manager, Search, who shares an important lesson learned when it comes to geotargeting settings in paid search.
I have a story to tell you. It’s a story with a hard lesson that was learned many years ago. I won’t name names, to protect the innocent (or should I say naive), but I hope this lesson will avoid the pain and suffering that a colleague of mine once had to suffer.
Geotargeting has always been an option in Search, but in the early 2000s—yes, I’m dating myself here—people often didn’t select targeting or simply targeted the whole world because the more the merrier, right? It was a land grab for clicks and wasn’t a multi-billion dollar industry yet.
Our client only operated in the US, but for some reason, my college didn’t apply any limitations on geotargeting, so by default, it was targeting the entire world. For the first few weeks, this wasn’t a problem, and no red flags were raised. The campaign was spending and the ROAS was well within the goal. Everyone was happy, until one fateful weekend something went terribly wrong.
First, the impressions on the campaign skyrocketed. Thousands jumped to over a million overnight. But it was Friday when it happened, so reports weren’t available until Saturday, and no one was looking at reports over the weekend. Then, out of nowhere, the clicks started coming in waves. Our CPCs shot up as our CTR dramatically took a hit, but we were getting so much traffic. This continued all weekend without warning.
Then Monday morning, we all come into the office, and ran our daily reports…my colleague looked like he had seen a ghost. The campaign overspent by $45,000 and had no revenue to show for it!
Paid search settings are as important as keywords and ads
How was this possible?
The campaign consistently performed with a 3-5% conversion rate, and never had any volatility. The entire team started to dig to figure out what happened. Maybe our tracking tags were removed from the site. Nope. We checked every bit of data available to us. The influx of click traffic all came from 2 countries — India and Africa. The lack of geotargeting on the campaign caused a $45,000 mistake in which the agency would have to eat the cost.
The moral of this lesson? Set geotargeting. Check that geotargeting is set on every campaign. Use geotargeting negatives to avoid getting clicks for traffic that has no possible way to convert.