About targeting

Your advertisers or buyers typically want to reach an intended audience or demographic with their campaigns. Targeting helps you build expressions that determine how and where ads serves to reflect the goals of your advertisers or buyers. Targeting can be broad or granular.

Learn about How targeting works with multiple expressions.

Typically, targeting is applied to line items or proposal line items. However, you can also apply targeting in Protections and unified pricing rules, features that help you manage inventory in the Open Auction. Wherever you use targeting, concepts and behavior are the same across Ad Manager. 

Targeting restrictions

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.

Ad Manager doesn't read your site's cookies or have connections to your web systems. JavaScript tagging is the only way to pass information to Ad Manager from webpages.You must pass information to Google 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 familiar yourself with:

Targeting types

A targeting type is the highest level category of targeting objects. They are the initial list from which you can select. Let go over some of the more frequently used or important targeting types.


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.

Include inventory

To include inventory:

  1. When creating a line item, click Inventory in the "Add targeting" section.

  2. 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.

  1. Click Back in the targeting section.

  2. Click Include next to "Ad units".

Exclude inventory

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.

  1. When creating a line item, click Inventory in the "Add targeting" section.

  2. 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.

Custom 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". 

Use commas to add custom targeting values in bulk (e.g., "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,".

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 dynamic targeting keys in the same line item, but an individual targeting key can only be set to either custom or dynamic.


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.


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.


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.

Formerly classified as desktop inventory, Connected TV devices are now a separate device category which can be targeted or excluded. They are also now broken as a separate "Device category" in reports. Devices must use an applicable user agent to be classified as a Connected TV device.


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 edu and gov (don't include the dot), and subdomains, such as stanford.edu, and usa.gov. Invalid values include:
    • https://www.psychology.berkeley.edu
    • www.usa.gov
    • .edu

Mobile application

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.

Out-stream video does not use in-stream targeting options, so out-stream requests are only eligible when those specific targeting options are not included. Examples of targeting which make out-stream requests ineligible include: specific video positions, content targeting, or metadata targeting.

Content targeting

Content owners can target ads to specific video content, allowing them to monetize video content more broadly.

Learn more about video content targeting.

Position 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 format targeting

Target video line items to serve to only rewarded ad inventory.

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.

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