Geographical Targeting

Google provides geolocation information through the Geo object, common to both the OpenRTB and Google protocols. This document describes higher-level details of how Google populates geolocation in bid requests and suggests best practices for its use.

How the Geo object is populated

Google only sources device locations from IP geolocation, never from GPS or other sources. While the OpenRTB specification supports separate geolocations for the user (for example, home address) and the device (where the device is when the ad is being placed), Google only supports the latter. Consequently, the Google protocol contains only one Geo object, in BidRequest.geo; and for OpenRTB, Google will only populate the Device.geo field.

Geo object fields are populated identically for both protocols. The following fields exist only in the OpenRTB variant of the Geo object, they are never populated by Google in either protocol: regionfips104, lastfix, type, and ipservice. Most of the unsupported fields above are related to alternative location sources.

Privacy protections

In order to protect user privacy, Google only provides a coarse geolocation that is shared by a sufficiently large number of users, generalizing detected location as necessary.

Location representations

The Geo object supports two separate representations of location – civil location and geographical coordinates.

Civil locations are represented by the following fields:

  • country
  • region
  • metro
  • city
  • zip

Geographical coordinates are represented by the following fields:

  • lat
  • lon
  • accuracy

In both Google and OpenRTB protocols, both representations contain the same location and accuracy. For example, if a bid request populates the Geo with city-level precision, then the lat and lon fields will contain the latitude and longitude of the centerpoint of the identified city, and accuracy will be the radius of a circle with the same area as that city. Google also limits the precision of the lat and lon fields to 0.01 degrees.

Best practices for geolocation targeting

For bidders that need custom geolocation data we recommend using the approximate lat, lon and accuracy fields for performing spatial geolocation lookups. We don't recommend the use of the ip field for geolocation, since Google only shares the IP address in truncated form; the use of truncated IP addresses for geolocation can result in somewhat inaccurate results.

The Geo Table

The geo_criteria_id field represents geolocation as a numeric identifier, which is mapped to a geolocation in geo-table.csv available for download at the Reference tables section of the Protos & Reference Data page. This field and the corresponding table are now deprecated–you can use the Geo field described above to get similar geolocation information. As an example, if a bid request has Geo populated with city-level precision, then the geo_criteria_id will contain the code for the corresponding city. You can use that ID to locate a record in the geo table.


Criteria ID
Unique and persistent assigned ID. In the API, these criteria are of type Location.
Best available English name of the geo target.
Canonical Name
The constructed fully qualified English name consisting of the target's own name, and that of its parent and country. This field is meant only for disambiguating similar target names--it's not supported in LocationCriterionService (use location names or criteria IDs instead).
Parent ID
The criteria ID of a parent. This field is included for legacy support, and the IDs may not be consistent across datasets. Canonical names is the preferred method of constructing hierarchies.
Region Code
The ISO 3166-2 region code for the state or province target, if one exists.
Country Code
The ISO-3166-1 alpha-2 country code that is associated with the target.
Target Type

Allowable values:

  • Airport
  • Arrondissement
  • Autonomous Community
  • Borough
  • Canton
  • City
  • City Region
  • Congressional District
  • Country
  • County
  • Department
  • District
  • DMA region
  • Governorate
  • Metro
  • Municipality
  • National Park
  • Neighborhood
  • Okrug
  • Other
  • Postal Code
  • Prefecture
  • Province
  • Region
  • State
  • Territory
  • TV Region
  • Union Territory
  • University

Non-targetable locations

Due to advertising regulations and laws of the People's Republic of China, you may be asked to provide certificates and licenses if you are advertising certain categories of products in China. You do not need to submit certificates until after your account has been activated. Once your account is active, you will be provided with information on how to submit certificates to Google.