Geospoofing - Is local search data too good to be true?
@Toddlearsmith asks us on Twitter:
@ChiefGooroo I took a demo of your software as well when will you be able to geo target keyword campaigns instead of just a national look?
This feature has been of particular interest to us and we have been actively researching it for the past year as a possible addition to our product. In fact, we currently have this feature working in our labs but it will likely not be available until Q409.
The way geotargeted data is collected is through the use of an undocumented Google back door to “geo-spoof” the search results. This effectively tricks Google’s servers into believing that the search originates locally.
On the surface, this seems to be a great approach as it could potentially eliminate the need for hosting servers in the target markets (these servers are expensive to maintain). However, In November 2008 we conducted a large-scale study spanning over 18,000,000 impressions. The results of the study indicated that the data gathered by this approach is unreliable and does not accurately reflect the ads that search engine users actually see in these markets. This should not be surprising, as this technique relies on a which short-circuits the usual reverse-geotargeting algorithm.
Specifically, this technique results in 75% fewer premium ads which are actually shown to local visitors. The total number of ads shown per keyword falls dramatically in comparison (around 25-30% overall, largely concentrated on second and third-tier keyword phrases):
This method also returns organic search results which are wildly out of sync with what local searchers actually see in their markets:
Finally, the missing ads also result in inaccurate coverage estimates, wildly under-reporting bottom-of-page advertisers by up to 85% (!).
So while this approach appears to offer significant capabilities and cost advantages, the data is lacking and advertisers who rely on it may actually be making worse marketing decisions than had they used nothing at all.
Be wary of companies who claim to offer "local" search data as there is currently no way to accurately capture this data short of maintaining a physical presence in these markets. AdGooroo is the only company who maintains a global network of ad collection servers. This approach provides a clear and significant advantage in data quality over more common "shortcut" techniques.
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