Geo Targeting

Geo targeting (sometimes known as location targeting) is a way to target your ads to appear in certain locations or, conversely, exclude your ads from appearing in certain locations.

In this article, we'll walk you through how to use geo targeting in Marin. 


Marin offers access to search engine geo-targeting capabilities provided by each publisher as follows:

Publisher Campaign Group
Google X
Yahoo X
Yahoo! JAPAN -  -
Microsoft X X

Geo-targeting settings control from which locations searchers can view your ads.

  • For Google and Yahoo, the targets are set at the campaign level.
  • For Yahoo! Japan, region and prefectures cannot be targeted.
  • For Microsoft , these geo-targets can be set at either the group or the campaign level.

Geo-targeting for campaigns can be accessed in bulk or from the campaign settings page (or group settings for Microsoft).

Note: Whenever a new campaign is created, the default geo-target (if a geo target is not specified) will be set to the locale of the Marin client account for Google only. For example, if your client account has a locale of English (United Kingdom), new campaigns will have their geo-targets set to the UK. However, you can always change a campaign's geo-targeting setting after campaign creation, as we recommend doing.

Adding Or Editing Location Targets 

In Bulk 

By using a bulk file, you can create or remove location targets and exclusions. Additionally, you can set and edit a bid adjustment for a location target on a campaign from -90% to +900%.

It is possible to perform combinations of these actions in a single bulk file.

Managing geo-location settings across multiple campaigns and accounts can be both difficult and time-consuming. To streamline this process and reduce the time spend, you can create, delete, and edit all your campaign location targets, exclusions, and geo bid adjustments in bulk.

To access Location Targets via bulk, simply click the Upload button and select Location Targets from the drop-down.

To learn more about bulk uploads as a whole, check out our dedicated article.

Important Notes For Working With Location Targets In Bulk 

  • Account and Campaign are required fields when bulk uploading location target settings.
  • Each action should be specified in its own row. For example, if you want to add a location target and an exclusion to the same campaign, you would do so as two separate rows in the same bulk sheet.
  • To remove a location target or exclusion, use the value Delete in the Location Action column.

    Note: To remove a location bid adjustment, simply set it to 0. Do not set the location action to Delete, as that will remove the location target.
  • Bulk rows with a new location target or exclusion will add a location target or exclusion.
  • Bulk rows with a new location bid adjustment value for an existing location target will edit the bid adjustment.
  • Bulk rows with a new location bid adjustment value for a new location target will add a location target and add a bid adjustment for that location.
  • You cannot delete the last location target in a campaign. This is a precaution to prevent accidentally deleting the last target, which will default the campaign to targeting the entire country.

Troubleshooting Bulk Errors 

When uploading a bulk change, we recommend you check the Activity Log to make sure the file has no errors. If there are rows that have errors, those rows will not be pushed the publisher. Below are a list of common error messages:

  • Error: At least one geographic target must be specified 
    Because you cannot delete the last location target in a campaign, the bulk file will show this error if a line is attempting to remove the last location target in a campaign. Note: If you are simultaneously deleting the last location target in a campaign and adding a new location target to the same campaign, the add should come first in the bulk so to prevent this error.
  • Error: Cannot lookup the specified Geo Location Target 
    This error is displayed when the format or spelling of the location name is incorrect. Correct location names can be found through the single edit search bar. To navigate there, hover over a Campaign name until you see the More menu ('three dots' icon) appear. Click this and select Settings from the drop-down. This will route you to our Marin Search interface. From there, click Geo-Targeting and use the search bar to search for the location names you'd like to use. 
  • Error: Can only specify Location as Target or Exclusion 
    Shown when there is a Target and Exclusion on the same row. These should be entered as separate rows in the bulk file.
  • Error: Location Target or Location Exclusion must be specified 
    Shown when uploading a blank row. This gets ignored and the rest of the bulk file should succeed.

You can learn about how to prepare and upload a bulk sheet by reading our dedicated help article. See below for an example of a bulk upload file with the expected action in the left hand column.

  Account Campaign [Location Target] [Location Exclusion] [Location Bid Adj] [Location Action]
Create Target Account1 Campaign1 San Francisco, California, United States(City)      
Create Exclusion Account1 Campaign1   Los Angeles, California, United States(City)    
Create Target and Add Bid Adjustment Account1 Campaign1 Oakland, California, United States(City)   +20  
Remove Location Target Account1 Campaign1 Bakersfield, California, United States(City)     Delete

Implicit Campaign Creation 

For any bulk rows with a new campaign name, a new campaign will be created and add whatever location target settings are defined. With implicit campaign creation, it is important to note that two identical operations will appear in the Activity Log called Bulk Create: Google Campaign: campaign_name. This is expected and normal behavior.

Note: Currently this feature is limited to creating campaigns with default settings. These settings are as follows:

  • Status = Active
  • Mobile Bid Adj Exclusion = 0
  • Start Date = Today
  • End Date = None
  • Network = Search Only
  • Daily Budget = [Average of all campaign budgets in the account]

How To Use The Correct Location Name Format 

When managing locations in bulk, it is important to use the correct location name format, or the row will fail during the upload process.

Format for commonly used location types:

Location Type Format Example Supported for Exclusions
Country CountryName (Country) United States (Country) Yes
DMA Region DMAName, StateName, CountryNme (DMA Region) San Francisco County, California, United States (DMA Region) Yes
State StateName, CountryName (State) California, United States (State) Yes
Postal Code PostalCode, StateName, CountryName(Postal Code) 94103,California,United States (Postal Code) Yes
City CityName, StateName, CountryName (City) San Francisco, California, United States(City) Yes
Region or Province RegionName, CountryName (Region) Calabria, Italy (Region) Yes
Proximity in miles or km (Radius) RadiusUnit: Lat, Long (Proximity)

20.0mi:-2.252,-69.785(Proximity) or


Location Extensions / My Business Locations RadiusUnit: (Location Extension)

2mi: (Location Extension)


5km: (Location Extension)


FTP Support 

You can upload geo targeting files via FTP using the following naming conventions:

  • geoLocationTargetCampaigns_FILENAME.txt
  • geoLocationTargetCampaignsHeld_FILENAME.txt 

For more information, please read our Help article.


  • This functionality is available for Google only.
  • Occasionally, there is a delay between the time Google Ads adds a new location and when Marin updates its location lists. Any locations that are in Google Ads but not yet in Marin will show up as a numerical value in the export file. (e.g. 9045287 (GEO)). If these show up, they can be exported and uploaded exactly as a normal location.

From The Settings Page 

To access the campaign or group settings page, simply hover over the name of the object until the More menu 'three dots' icon) appears at the right-hand side. From the drop-down, select Settings

Once on the settings page for a campaign or group, click the Geo-Targeting button.

From this page, you can set positive geo-targets and geo targeting exclusions. In the Search field, simply type the first couple of letters of the geo-target you are interested in. The Found Search Results list automatically updates based on your search. To select a target, click a result and click the Target button ('plus' icon). The newly added target will move to the Target list. 

"Don't Target" (Google Only): 

Negative geo-targets can be added for Google Campaigns. For negative geo-targets to be selected, you must also be targeting a larger area that contains the negative target. Support for Microsoft negative geo-targets is not yet fully supported. What this means:

  • When creating new Microsoft campaigns/groups, any specified targets will automatically post to Microsoft as positive targets
  • If Microsoft campaigns/groups are updated in Microsoft Ads to have negative targets, this can be synced to Marin. Since the system does not yet display the differences between the positive and negative targets for Microsoft, all targets will be seen under one “Target” text box with a plus sign.
  • If you make a non-geo-target edit to the campaign (ie. status change) then only those changes will post to Microsoft. The geo-targets will not get touched or overridden in Microsoft Ads, and so the negative targets will still be kept.
  • If you make a geo-target edit to the campaign in Marin (i.e. you decide to add a new country to target), then Marin will push all targets listed to Microsoft Ads as positive targets. This means that any negative targets will be flipped to positive targets. Because of this current limitation, we advise that any geo-targeting updates be made within Microsoft Ads if the campaigns include negative targets.

"Set By Latitude And Longitude" (Google Only) 

To access the campaign or group settings page, simply hover over the name of the object until the More menu 'three dots' icon) appears at the right-hand side. From the drop-down, select Settings

Once on the settings page for a campaign or group, click the Geo-Targeting button. Once there, select Set by latitude and longitude or address to expose the relevant fields. To add latitude and longitude targets, complete the relevant fields and click Target.

Group-Level Geographic Targeting (Microsoft Only) 

Microsoft geo-targeting is available at both the group and the campaign level.

Note: Group-level geo-target setting overrides that of the Campaign level.

Geo-Targeting Exclusions

Geo targeting exlusions allow you to exclude certain locations and determine where your ads will not show.

If you exclude just one country from the campaign geo-targeting settings, all other countries will be included automatically by the system. That means you do not need to manually add all other countries into the targeting list.

Important Information 

  • There are a couple of error messages that may occur when you attempt to alter the geo-target exclusions. Please read our Help article on this topic for more information. 

Radius Geo Targeting 

Google Ads allows you to target a radius as a geo-targeting setting for your campaigns, allowing you to target users who are located within a certain distance around your specific location, rather than specifying individual cities, regions, or countries. At present, this needs to be set up within the publisher interface. 

Please note that Radius Geo-targeting is not currently supported by Microsoft Ads.

How To Set Up Radius Geo-Targeting In Google Ads 

To set up this feature, just follow these steps. Please note that these steps must be taken within the Google Ads interface, and not in Marin.

  1. Click Campaigns, then select a specific campaign.
  2. Click Settings.
  3. Look for Locations, then click Edit.
  4. Next, click Advanced Search, and then Radius Targeting.
  5. Type in the location, address, or coordinates you would like to use as the center of the radius in the search box.
  6. Type in the radius of your target and select the unit of measurement.
  7. Click Search, then select one of the populated locations that you want to target.
  8. Finally, click Add, then click Done, and to finish up, Save.

Marin Support 

Once you've followed the steps above, Marin will sync the radius targeting settings for your campaigns, and you'll be able to view these by following these steps. Note: You may need to carry out a hard sync in order for the new data to appear.

  1. Head to the main Campaigns.
  2. Identify the campaign in question and hover over it until the More menu 'three dots' icon) appears at the right-hand side. From the drop-down, select Settings
  3. Once on the settings page for a campaign, click the Geo-Targeting button.
  4. On this screen you'll be able to see the coordinates for your radius targeting, but not the specific location name as seen in Google Ads.

Important Notes About Radius Targeting 

Please note that although Marin does not fully support radius targeting, your radius targeting settings will be accurately reflected in Google Ads until any campaign-level changes (such as budgets) are made and posted to the publisher. Once any campaign-level changes are made within Marin, it will revert targeting to the broader default. To avoid this, you can make your campaign-level changes in the publisher's interface, then perform a manual sync to bring them into Marin.

When using radius geo-targeting, Marin Search will sync in your radius targeting setting, but it will only show the coordinates (latitude and longitude), not the exact location name as seen in the publisher interface.

Microsoft Advertising Default Geo-Targeting Behavior 

For each new Microsoft Advertising campaign created, the geo-target will be set to match the Marin client account’s locale. For example, the locale might be English - United States, in which case the geo-target would be United States.

To add an extra layer of context, the locale is set at the client level, and only one locale can be specified for each PCA. Existing geo-targeting settings for Microsoft Advertising campaigns will not change, as is the case for the default behavior (and geo-targets) for any other publisher. These geo-targets can further be edited or managed as needed through the usual workflow in Marin. 

This is beneficial to your workflow for a number of reasons, including the following: 

  • New campaigns will no longer target the world. In fact, we don't recommend that this behavior should ever be used intentionally. 
  • If your geo-targets usually match your locale, you won't have to make any changes at all. 
  • This behavior does not impact existing Microsoft Advertising campaigns, existing or new Microsoft Advertising groups, default behavior of other publishers, or cloner behavior – or behavior for any other Microsoft Advertising campaign default value.

Additional Notes About Geo-Targeting 

  • Location Extensions are viewed separately from geo-targeting. To learn more about Location Extensions, check out our dedicated article.
  • The location type "prefecture" is supported in Google, but produces errors when used in a Marin bulk upload. As a result, "prefecture" should be substituted with "region" in your bulk upload.
  • Marin cannot pull Publisher report data (i.e. Impressions, Clicks, Cost, etc) for Campaigns that incorporate demographic target settings where the Parental Status Targeting is set to 'On'.

Written by Marketing @ Marin Software

Last published at: December 8th, 2023