Key concepts in targeting

Targeting types

Note: Make sure your ads reach the right people by picking the proper targeting types. #targeting

This article covers popular targeting types. After you understand targeting types, learn how to target ads with the targeting picker in line items (including how to save time by copying and pasting values).

Targeting restrictions

You may not pass any personally identifiable information (PII), including names, addresses, or user IDs, in targeting. Mask this information using the encoding method of your choice, and ensure traffickers know how to decode values when setting up a line item.

Google Ad Manager doesn't read your site's cookies and doesn't have connections to your web systems. JavaScript tagging is the only way to pass information to Ad Manager. You must pass information to Ad Manager on every page because the information isn't stored with the user.

Google Ad Manager doesn't share information with other publishers, so there is no built-in pool of demographic data to target.

Key concepts

Some key concepts you might want to familiarize yourself with:

Inactive, Unknown, and Deprecated

You may see items appear in the targeting picker marked as "Inactive", "Unknown", or "Deprecated". These mean the following:

  • Inactive: An item is no longer active, such as a publisher-defined ad unit.
  • Unknown: The user did not have permissions to view the item.
  • Deprecated: An item is no longer supported or available to target, but still served.


Inventory defines the structure of your inventory, app, or other digital property. You target specific inventory (ad units and placements) to direct ads to serve to that inventory.

Run-of-network targeting

A "run of network" means all inventory in your network is targeted. Ads in a run-of-network campaign can potentially serve anywhere on your website or app. By default, line items (and other items that can target values) are run-of-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.

Including and excluding inventory

  • At least one placement or ad unit must be included in targeting.
  • You can include or exclude ad units even if they're not included as part of a placement.
  • You can't exclude placements.

Include inventory

To include inventory:

  1. Expand "Inventory" in the targeting picker.

  2. Select either "Ad units" or "Placements" and either browse or type to filter items.

  3. For ad units: Click the check mark next to each ad unit you want to include.

    For placements: Select each placement you want to include.

The line item can be delivered to the inventory units you include.

Exclude inventory

Whether your line item is targeted to run-of-network or to specific inventory you've included, you can exclude ad units. This is especially useful for targeting a placement but excluding some of its ad units.

  1. Expand "Inventory" in the targeting picker.

  2. Select "Ad units" and either browse or type to filter items.

  3. Click next to the ad unit you want to exclude.

The line item can't be delivered to the ad units you exclude.

Custom targeting

Custom targeting allows you to include key-values, audience segments, or content metadata for video line items if Video Solutions is activated in your network.

Key-values in particular can be used for purposes not captured by the built-in targeting in Ad Manager. For instance, you define key-values that identify specific ad inventory on web pages or apps, or they can be used to target ads based on that information you might gather from visitors to your website or app. Key-values, like other targeting, help your advertisers and buyers reach their intended audience or demographic.

Use commas to add custom targeting values in bulk (for example, "1,2,3"). You can also use commas to find the exact matches of a value if it doesn't appear in the dropdown. For example, if you're searching for the value "1" but it doesn't appear in the dropdown because of the limit of 200, enter "1,".

Learn more about custom targeting:


You can target line items to geographical locations such as countries, regions (provinces, prefectures, states, and so on), U.S. Nielsen DMAs (designated market areas), and cities. Either search for a specific place or browse through the list of countries until you find the places you want to target.

Note the following characteristics of targeting geography:

  • Geographic categories may not follow containment hierarchies or a parent-child relationship. For example, Australian Capital Territory isn't nested under New South Wales in Ad Manager.
  • Some overlap of neighboring areas may occur due to data quality.

You can target country=france AND city=paris to include both the country France and the city Paris.

You can also exclude places. Target country=france AND city!=paris to target France but exclude Paris.

The Apple IP address anonymization privacy feature may affect line items with geo targeting delivered to Safari. You can create an Ad Manager report to see affected line items.

Device category

  • Connected TV
    • Formerly falling under "desktop inventory", connected TVs can now be targeted as their own value and reported upon separately under the device category dimension. Devices must be associated with a user agent tied to connected TVs to be successfully targeted.
  • Desktop
  • Feature phone
  • Smart display
  • Smart phone
  • Smart speaker
  • Tablet


The "Browser" targeting type is useful for advertisers who are trying to reach an audience using a specific browser. Here's a list of selected browsers available to target:

  • Android
  • Firefox
  • Google Chrome
  • Microsoft Internet Explorer
  • Opera
  • Safari
  • In-app browser

"In-app browser" is a browser embedded within an app.

Other browsers are also included as possible values. Search the targeting selector to find them. Here are some pointers on targeting 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 a browser's versions: 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 might 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".
The Apple IP address anonymization privacy feature may affect line items with geo targeting delivered to Safari. You can create an Ad Manager report to see affected line items.

Browser language

The "Browser language" targeting type does not apply to WebViews within mobile apps—that is, a browser view embedded or otherwise integrated inside of a mobile application. For ads targeting mobile apps and their associated WebViews, the language used is based on the language specified by the user in their mobile device settings.

Possible reporting discrepancy

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

Reach users using mobile apps, ad requests resulting from apps built on the MRAID standard, or users on devices that are able to make phone calls—versus devices that aren't able to make phone calls, such as tablets. To reach users on different types of devices, use the device category targeting type instead.

  • Mobile apps: Targets only ad requests coming from mobile apps, not requests coming from WebViews within mobile apps—that is, a browser view embedded or otherwise integrated inside of a mobile application.
  • MRAID v1
  • MRAID v2
  • Phone calls

MRAID or "Mobile Rich Media Ad Interface Definitions" is an IAB (Interactive Advertising Bureau) API standard. The MRAID API supports rich media ads on mobile apps. The standard is built upon HTML5 and JavaScript to help avoid dependencies on specific mobile operating systems.

Device manufacturer

Reach users on devices made by specific brands or companies, such as Acer, Apple, Amazon, BlackBerry, Cricket, Google, Samsung, Xiaomi, and others. Ad Manager supports device manufacturer targeting for mobile apps only.

Operating system

Reach users on different gaming, desktop, and mobile operating systems, such as Android, Apple iOS, Linux, Mac OS, and varieties of Xbox and Wii gaming systems.


Reach users accessing the internet via various means of connection, such as cable, DSL, or dial-up. Can be useful to target campaigns using low-resolution creatives or text ads for users with low bandwidth.

Mobile carrier

Target a variety of mobile carriers, such AT&T, Verizon, or T-Mobile.

User domain

Include or exclude users who visit from an IP address associated with domains you indicate. Add multiple values as a comma-separated list.

User domain targeting works because of standards around how users access the internet via an Internet Service Provider (ISP). ISPs assign IP addresses to devices that access the internet. These IP addresses are then associated with domain names. As a result of these standards, Ad Manager allows you to target domain names so that you can include or exclude users who access the internet from the domains specified.

For example, if you target, users who access the internet with an IP address from that domain can either be included or excluded from targeting.

User domain targeting also allows you to specify top-level domains, such as edu and gov (don't include the dot), or second-level + top-level domains, such as

Domain names should not include "www" or the protocol (namely, "https://" or "http://"). Top-level domains should not include the dot.

  Use case Invalid entry
Not supported Domain name
Not supported Domain name
Not supported Top-level domain .edu

Inventory format

Target ads to:

Mobile application

Select mobile applications you've claimed from the Google Play Store and Apple App Store.

Learn how to claim apps for targeting.

Video and audio

Some targeting options apply specifically to video and audio, and might not be activated for your network. Contact your account manager for information.

Video content or content bundle

Content owners can target ads to specific video content or content bundles, allowing them to monetize video content more broadly. Learn more about video content targeting.

Note: Creative-level targeting to video content and content bundles is currently supported in Beta.

Video position

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.

Note: Creative-level targeting to video position is currently supported in Beta.

Inventory type

  • Display: Ads that display in a web browser. Display also includes ads served in webview within a mobile app
  • Mobile app: Banner ads, rewarded ads, and interstitials, that display in a mobile app
  • In-stream video and audio: Video and audio ads that serve in a player

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