Google Ads Location Matching — Presence vs Interest

A default setting buried multiple levels deep in Google Ads is one of the most common oversights advertisers make when setting up their ad campaigns. This setting needs to be manually changed by you for each campaign, otherwise your ads could be shown to a much wider audience than you intended, costing you wasted clicks and money.

This setting is related to the geographical location targeting of your ads. While you may have carefully selected the locations you want to target with your ads, two more factors called Presence and Search Interest play a huge factor in how wide a net you cast with your ad spend.

Presence or Interest — the default setting

The Google Ads default location targeting is set for Presence or Interest which shows your ads to anyone searching on Google for your targeted locations from anywhere in the world.

So for example, if you’re an electrician in Denver, Colorado, your Google Ads could potentially be shown to — and clicked on — by someone doing a Google search in Melbourne, Australia.

While this may be useful for some tourism businesses such as hotels and resorts, in most cases it should not be selected and needs to be actively changed by you on a per-campaign basis.


Setting your targeting for Presence means your ads for a given campaign will be shown only to people who are “likely to be located, or regularly located in the locations you've targeted”.

If you are a local business, serving the local and surrounding area, you’ll need to limit your targeting to Presence only for your targeted locations by changing the default setting.

How do I change it?

1 Log in to your Google Ads account and select the Campaigns icon in the left menu.
2 In secondary left menu, click on Campaigns.
Google Ads Location Matching Step 1 and 2
3 Hover over a campaign from the list and click the cog icon to open the campaign settings. These steps will have to be applied again to each campaign you wish to change.
Google Ads Location Matching Step 3
4 Expand the Locations section.
Google Ads Location Matching Step 4
5 Expand the Location Options section.
Google Ads Location Matching Step 5
6 Select the section option “Presence: People in or regularly in your targeted locations”
7 Select Save
Google Ads Location Matching Step 6 and 7

Updated 7th July 2023 to reflect changes in the Google Ads interface

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