Presence or Interest — The #1 mistake we see people make in Google Ads

Presence or Interest — The #1 mistake we see people make in Google Ads

One of the most common and infuriating problems we have seen in Google Ads campaigns is when ad clicks are happening outside the specific locations you have targeted.

Unfortunately, Google has buried a crucial setting related to location targeting many layers deep within their interface and unless you know about it and where to find it, you will continue to pay for ad clicks outside of your target locations.

The setting in question decides whether your ads are shown to people who have a physical Presence in the target locations you choose or people who have previously shown any Interest in your location when they search from anywhere in the world.

The default setting in Google Ads is Presence or Interest which casts a very wide net. With the exception of tourism related businesses, most advertisers should change this setting to Presence only.

Google's Default Setting

Our Google Ads Integration makes it easy to spot this in Statcounter by showing you for each ad click if your campaign is set to Presence, Presence or Interest or Search Interest.

New Location Matching field in Ad Details

Not just that but you can also view the Google Ad details that correspond to each individual visitor session in Statcounter, including keywords, campaign, ad group, location of interest and more.

See where your Google Ads configuration is resulting in irrelevant clicks and wasting your ad budget.

Uncover fraudulent ad clicks from competitors and block IP addresses from being shown your Google Ads without having to leave Statcounter.

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  1. What is the best way to include interest in a location but not physical presence? For example, I want to target people around the searching for “hawaii resorts” but not those people physically present in Hawaii. Doesn’t seem to be a clear way to achieve this. TIA

    1. Hi, you can do this by changing the setting to Search Interest. See step 6 here. It’s the 3rd option.

  2. Good article. What’s more, we’ve noticed that when we deliberately leave the “interest” setting on, Google appears to be using a very loose definition of interest. In years past, this worked better, but recent analyses across several companies was finding that this has stopped working on Google at present. The close rate with out-of-area clicks was almost zero. We are currently testing turning that setting to presence. Our cost per click goes up, but the hope is that the clicks will be more valuable and the overall return on investment will be higher. Still testing.

    1. Hi Gary. We have noticed that too. Also, Google can serve ads outside of target locations when that setting is set to Presence only which is really frustrating. Our Google Ads integration really helps highlights these issues.

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