How It Works

With the geographic targeting add-on module the ad server is able to instantly determine a visitors location. This includes their continent, country, state/province, city, zip/postal code, designated marketing area and time zone. Just take a quick look at the map below and you should notice it’s displaying a familiar place right?

Where are you?

You might be wondering, just how does geographical targeting work? Well, it’s quite simple really and more importantly it all happens in a fraction of a second! The following steps explain how the process works from start to finish:

  1. Visitor arrives on your web site
  2. The IP address of the visitor is determined
  3. The ad server translates their IP address to an actual geographic location through the use of a geographic mapping database (GeoIP), which contains a virtual map of the Internet by IP addresses
  4. Targeted ads are then evaluated
  5. Visitor is served a targeted ad

What about visitor privacy? Absolutely no personal information is collected or stored about your visitors. This mapping technology is completely non-invasive and as a result will not violate the privacy rights of your visitors in any way.

Campaign Targeting

With the geographic add-on module activated, you can proceed to target campaigns to the location of your visitors.

Let’s assume that you want to target visitors from Canada and the United States as an example.

  1. Edit your campaign, scroll down to the Geographic Targeting panel and click on it to expand it.
  2. Select Canada and the United States from the box on the left.
  3. Use the single right arrow button to move both of them into the box on the right.

Once your targets have been entered and saved, you should see that your campaign only appears to visitors located in Canada or the United States.

Targets by continent, designated marketing area and time zone can be entered in the same way.

You might be wondering why the state, city and zip code boxes are empty though? This is because there are so many states and cities worldwide that it is faster for you to type them in than to try and find and select them from a ridiculously long list. Did you know that there are almost 4,000 states and over 1 million cities worldwide? Now you do!

ISO Resources

Since you have to enter state names manually you should make sure that you are using the proper ISO recognized names and also that you have them spelled correctly.

For the United States and Canada you may enter their two-letter state abbreviations according to the ISO 3166-2 standard.

In all other countries the full state name must be entered exactly as specified by the FIPS 10-4 standard.

Unfortunately there is no similar standard for city names. If in doubt you can always download the free CSV version of GeoLite City and search it for the city name(s) in question. You will need to open the file in a text editor that supports editing large files. It is too big to be opened by Excel. We suggest using TextPad if you are on a Windows system. Use the command line cat and grep utilities on Mac or Linux systems.


When targeting by city it is often a good idea to also enter their corresponding state names. For example, just targeting the city of New Castle is ambiguous because it could refer to a location in several different countries and states! However, if you also enter the state name Pennsylvania you will be sure to target the correct one.

For other types of geographic targeting this is not necessary! You do not need to select continents, countries and designated market areas together. It is enough to just select the designated marketing areas by themselves. The ad server already knows which countries they belong to so you don’t need to select them.

When in doubt always target by the lowest possible level of geography unless you’re targeting by city, in which case enter the states as well to avoid ambiguous location matches.

Geographic Reporting

Logging and reporting of geographic data by continent, country, state/province, city, zip/postal code, designated marketing area and time zone is enabled by default.

To disable the logging and reporting, go to Settings > Expert > Statistics and deselect all of the check boxes for the geographic data types.

Want to see more data? Go to Settings > Expert > Purging to adjust the maximum number of daily records that are kept site-wide and per advertiser, campaign, media, publisher, group or zone. Keep in mind that only the worldwide state/province, city and zip/postal code reports are purged with these settings. The continent, country, US state, designated marketing area and time zone reports are never purged since there are a smaller and fixed number of them. Usually the default purging limits are fine for this reason because it’s not very useful to see states, cities or zip codes in the reports that only represent 0.1% of your impressions.