Google AdWords issues

Anyone here know how they “really” work? I’ve got a locksmith friend whom I’ve helped him setup some Google AdWords (WAY slick, by the way), but it’s working…oddly.

Since he’s a locksmith, he ONLY wants to show up to people within a certain area (so his geographic distribution is limited), and he also uses qualified keywords, not just “locksmith”. Now, he has the typical keywords at very reasonable CPCs and budgets. Some of the keywords are very obscure.

When testing it out, for example doing a search of “cartersville locksmith”, his ad often doesn’t come up even when there are NO other ads, so it’s not a positioning/ranking problem vs. other advertisers based on CPCs.

In other areas his ad shows up intermittently. With other keywords it seems that he loses out on people with a single keyword insetad of a phrase.

For example, “locksmith” almost always pulls up ServiceMagic or the SuperPages as the top ad, no matter how qualified the statement might be, e.g. “commercial locksmith buford” still brings up ServiceMagic very dependably but not my friend’s ad which uses that specific keyword.

I’ve asked google but I’m not holding my breath for a response. If someone has some hints/advice on how to manage this, would appreciate it.