Google Ads Targeting Options are Being Removed?!

Playing to the lowest common denominator by removing options that are important to specific industries – that’s my take on this.

So, when you’re putting a campaign together you can choose where you want it to be shown geographically. Obvious so far, right?

Now, you have five settings to pick from regarding that targeting, broken into two groups, and you DO NOT want to confuse them.

They are, and are broken down as, this:


  1. Presence or interest
  2. Presence
  3. Search Interest


  1. Presence
  2. Presence or Interest

The groups should be obvious, targeting is to show ads to people in that area, excluding is to make sure people in that area do not see your ads.

I can see these being confused largely because “presence or interest” is set to the default when choosing where to target your ads (because why would Google make this intuitive…?) and these options are hidden in the “location options” drop down menu inside of the “locations” section of the campaign settings… That’s several layers of menus hiding these.

But what they are:

Presence: This is just people who live in, or are regularly in (as in they drive to work at) the location you are targeting.

Search Interest: These are people who do not live in the targeted area, but who are doing searches, specifically looking at that area – like trying to find a hotel room in a city they’re traveling to for a vacation, for example.

Presence or Interest: This is just lumping them together into a big group.

So what are some use cases for each of these?

Let’s start with the exclude part.

Say you are advertising auto repair services to a whole county, and you have every area code in that county included in your targeting.

But there’s also another auto shop on the other side of town. If you show up in the search results together and someone half a mile from that location sees you back to back, they’ll probably just go to the other shop, right? Well, if that happens enough times it can lower the quality score of the keywords you are using in your advertising. When your quality score goes down, you have to pay more for every click.

So you can add a half mile radius around the location of the competitor auto shop to prevent people in that region from seeing your ads – that way you never take the hit to quality score, preventing that eventual increase in your lead cost.

But what about the “Search Interest” option?

Well, hotels for one would use this. They want to advertise to people all over the country/world, but only to those who are searching for the location they themselves (the hotel) are located. Removing this removes their ability to get in front of the people looking for them. The same can be said for travel agents.

So, what happens to them?

I don’t know. I can see just running less detailed campaigns that “may” still be profitable, but this is going to be a big cut to travel related businesses.

Two things Google SHOULD have done, instead:

  1. Change the interface so that these settings weren’t so hidden.
  2. Update the descriptions to make sure they were more clearly explained.

But no… they’re just getting rid of the option altogether.


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