What do Crimea, Cuba, Iran, North Korea, Sudan (+ South Sudan), and Syria have in common? You can’t target these countries in Google Ads. You can’t exclude them. But your ads may show there anyway, and you’ll have to pay for it. 

vintage map of cuba

According to Google:

Google must comply with sanctions imposed by the United States Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC). As a result, Google Ads isn’t available to advertisers in the following countries or territories:

  • Crimea
  • Cuba
  • Iran
  • North Korea
  • Sudan
  • Syria

Not only can you not target those countries, you can’t exclude them either. Try it, you’ll see:

 

map of Cuba, MO

You’ll exclude Cuba, Missouri, a town about 85 miles southwest of St. Louis.

But…

If you don’t set ANY targeting at all – essentially targeting the whole world – Google can SHOW ads in those countries. Even though you legally cannot sell products there.

And Google will CHARGE you if someone clicks on those ads!

Moral of the Story:

Even if you want your ads to show “worldwide,” always, always enter a list of countries in your “Locations.” Use our handy list of available countries to copy and paste your selection.

Next, go to your campaign settings and open the “Locations” tab. Click “Location Options” to see your options. The default under “Target” is “Presence or interest: People in, regularly in, or who’ve shown interest in your targeted locations (recommended)” – meaning, if someone in Cuba is interested in the United States, your ad may be shown to him! 

Instead choose option #2, “Presence: People in or regularly in your targeted locations.” 

Google Ads Location Settings