About targeting criteria
Targeting criteria are requirements that you specify to determine how and where and ad serves.
Typically, targeting is applied to line items. You'll find a targeting picker in every line item under an "Add targeting" section. However, creative-level targeting is also available. For the purposes of this article, we'll assume you're working with line items. The concepts and approach are the same.
New trafficking experience
Ad Manager might look a little different if you're using the new trafficking user interface
You can apply the following targeting types:
- Custom targeting
- Mobile application
- Operating system
- Browser language
- Device capability
- Device manufacturer
- Mobile carrier
- User domain
Under each of these types, you'll find targeting classes—set of related targeting values.
Good to know about targeting
Ad Manager handles the relationship between targeting types and values differently. Learn more below in How Ad Manager handle multiple targeting conditions.
You can use a combination of this target to help your advertisers reach their intended audience or demographic. To help you manage targeting, Ad Manager allows you to create and apply targeting presets, reusable sets of targeting.
You may not pass any user-identifiable data (including names, addresses, or user IDs) in targeting. Mask this information using the encoding method of your choice, and ensure your ad trafficker knows how to decode the values when setting up a line item.
Google Ad Manager doesn't share information with other publishers, so there is no built-in pool of demographic data to target.
Also, you can create specific combinations of these targeting criteria to ensure that your line item targeting is extremely granular. See how Ad Manager processes targeting to multiple values and multiple criteria.
You can target line items to either specific inventory (ad units and placements) or to all inventory units across your network.
By default, line items are run-of-network, meaning they're targeted to all inventory in your network. Run-of-network targeting is useful for serving house ads and dynamic allocation line items.
Target more precisely by including and excluding specific inventory.
To include inventory:
When creating a line item, click Inventory in the "Add targeting" section.
Browse or type to filter items, then click Include next to each ad unit or placement you want to include. The line item can be delivered to the inventory units you select.
If your network is enabled for ad unit hierarchy, you can target line items only to landing pages but not their subsections; or conversely, you can target a line item only to subsections but not their landing pages. Learn more
You can include inventory even if it hasn't been included as part of a placement.
Click Back in the targeting section.
Click Include next to Ad units.
Whether your line item is targeted to run-of-network or to specific inventory you've included, you can exclude inventory. Excluding inventory is especially useful for targeting a placement but excluding some of its ad units. The line item can't deliver to the inventory units you exclude.
You can exclude inventory even if it hasn't been included as part of a placement.
When creating a line item, click Inventory in the "Add targeting" section.
Browse or type to filter items, then click the arrow and select Exclude next to the ad unit you want to exclude.
At least one placement or ad unit must be included in targeting.
You can use this targeting option for custom key-values, audience, and content metadata with system-defined criteria such as bandwidth, geography, or operating system.
Configure key-values in Ad Manager and then include them in your ad tags. If a line item targets a key-value, the ad server serves it to the ad tags on your website that include the key-value (assuming all other targeting criteria in the line item matches the ad tag).
You can use custom and free-form targeting keys in the same line item, but an individual targeting key can only be set to either custom or free-form.
Previous trafficking experience
What used to be known as Key-values and Audience or sometimes Key-values, Audience, and CMS metadata is now under a single heading called Custom targeting.
You can target line items to geographical locations such as countries, regions (provinces, prefectures, states, etc.), U.S. Nielsen DMAs (designated market areas), and cities. Either search for a specific place or browse through the list of countries and drill down to the places you want to target. For example, you can target
country=France AND city=Paris. You can also exclude places. For example, you can target
country=France AND city!=Paris to target France but exclude Paris.
You can target line items to a user’s device type or the browser it’s running:
Browser: (Does not apply to mobile apps) Android, Firefox, Google Chrome, Microsoft Internet Explorer, other browsers.
- To target all versions of a browser: Select browser name followed by "(x.x)". For example, select Google Chrome (x.x) to target all versions of the Google Chrome browser.
- To target to a range of versions of a browser: Select browser name followed by the version number and ".x". For example, Firefox (40.x) targets all releases of the browser between version 40 and up to, but not including version 41.
- To target a browser of an unknown version: Select browser name followed by "Unknown.Unknown". In some cases, there may be browser version that don't fall into any known version. For instance, targeting Safari Unknown.Unknown would target any browser that is deemed Safari but whose version isn't any of the known versions.
- To target to unknown browsers not listed: select Unknown.
Browser language: (Does not apply to mobile apps) Chinese, English, Italian, German, etc.
If a browser has more than one language assigned to it, each language generates an impression. In reports, this results in a higher number of impressions attributed to "browser language" than what's shown for total impressions for the line item.
Device capability: MRAID v2, Phone calls, and Mobile Apps
Mobile Apps targets in-app requests only. In-app web view requests cannot be targeted specifically; Ad Manager treats them as normal mobile web requests.
Device category: Desktop, tablet, smartphone, feature phone, set-top box (STB), and Connected TV (CTV) device.
Manufacturer/device: Apple, BlackBerry, Ericsson, HTC, Xiaomi, and many others.
Operating system: Android, Apple iOS, Linux, Macintosh, Microsoft Windows, etc.
You can target line items to a user’s bandwidth, carrier, or user domain:
- Bandwidth: Cable, DSL, etc.
- Mobile carrier: AT&T, 02, etc.
- User domains: You can set line items to target ads only to the domains or subdomains of the Internet service providers (ISPs) your users use to access the Internet. For example, if you target
stanford.edu, you are targeting students, faculty, and staff of Stanford University only. If you target
google.com, you are targeting Google employees only. You can specify top-level domains, such as
gov(don't include the dot), and subdomains, such as
usa.gov. Invalid values include:
Select mobile applications you've claimed from the Google Play Store and Apple App Store.
Learn how to claim apps for targeting.
Some video features might not be enabled for your network. Contact your account manager for information.
Content owners can target ads to specific video content, allowing them to monetize video content more broadly.
Learn more about video content targeting.
Content owners can target ads to specific video positions (pre-rolls, mid-rolls, post-rolls, or bumpers). If you don't target a line item to specific video positions, the ad server considers that line item eligible to serve in any video positions that your ad rules specify.
Learn more about video position targeting.
Request platform targeting
Video line items can serve to both traditional video placements (players), and to out-stream placements, including in-article and in-feed video ads, rewarded video ads, and interstitial video ads. While any combination of platforms are targetable, if you don't target a line item to specific platforms, the ad server considers that line item eligible to serve to any platform that your ad rules specify.
Learn more about request platform targeting.
One of the keys to combining targeting is to help advertisers reach specific audiences or demographic groups. Here's how Ad Manager handles multiple targeting conditions.
If you specify multiple values under a single targeting type (such as browser or device category), Ad Manager joins them using an "OR". For example, if you select "Safari" and "Firefox" as browsers you want to target, Ad Manager targets site visitors using Safari OR Firefox. You'll reach both audiences, those using Safari and those using Firefox.
Targeting between targeting types is handles as an "AND". For instance, suppose you wanted to reach an audience that was in North America using only Firefox browsers. Under Geography, you might target "United States" and "Canada"—there would be an "OR relationship between these two as they are values under the same type. Now, under Browsers, your target "Firefox". You'll reach an audience only if they are deemed to be in the United States or Canada and using the Firefox browser.
Targeting values can also be hierarchical or flat and behave differently when you add them to the targeting picker. Learn more.