Google Adwords inserts actual addresses now?

Starting sometime in the past week or so, Google Adwords starting inserting actual businesses addresses into advertiser’s display ads.  In the past, it wasn’t uncommon to see the State or Province below your regionally-targeted ads in Google.  The impact of the change has yet to have sufficient time to filter down into analytics, so it’s too soon to say whether showing a business’ actual address is good or not.

Is change good?

Several discussions have been popping up in the blogosphere about the changes made, and some of them have been cautiously optimistic.  Here are some of the arguments approving the change and a few of my own optimistic predictions:

  • “Bricks and clicks” businesses will be overjoyed that conversion may occur online and offline, essentially driving customers to an address for free.  What was Adwords thinking?  If your ad doesn’t get clicks, but does get bodies in your store you have a free advertising channel!
  • Businesses with multiple locations can serve up local addresses defined by geo-targeted ads.  Targeting specific cities for instance, can bring up your business’ address within that region.  You’re essentially cutting out much of the site path for anyone looking to find your business location.
  • The standard city or state display may be getting stale, as almost everyone under the sun is now employing that extra line of text in their ads.  Every business’ address is unique, so your address becomes increasingly valuable to drawing attention to your ad.

Or is change bad?

Several problems may come of the change that may see Adwords reverting to the old setup, one of which being the fact that Google did not even inform advertisers of the move in the first place.  Some other pain points may include:

  • Inaccurate address information inserted automatically into geo-targeted ads.  How many advertisers have multiple addresses for their business but only one physical location for customers to visit?
  • Google has never been perfect at matching geo-targeted ads to user locations.  In some (albeit rare) instances, search user location may not be resolved correctly, if at all.
  • Sometimes a physical address doesn’t help visitors at all.  Big cities for instance, have many small side streets and repeated road names that may actually confuse users.  Web designers do a much better job of outlining business location within the site itself, making directions much more intuitive.
  • In opposition to my optimistic point regarding staleness of state and/or city tags on an ad, the opposite may be true.  If your business is the only one to stick out with actual address information in the ad itself, it may be avoided.  Search users often look for the familiar, mentally filtering ads and content that doesn’t conform to a perceived status quo.

Whatever the outcome of this change, there are certainly a wealth of contrasting perspectives on the topic.  The only way to determine a clear winner for your geo-targeted ads is to do a bit of testing for yourself and let your analytics decide.  Don’t forget to consider offline conversions and location visits during both phases of your testing.

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