About targeting criteria

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Targeting criteria are requirements that you specify at the line item level to help your advertisers target ads to inventory units, specific audiences, and key-values. You can use a combination of these criteria to target line items at a level more granular than ad units and placements, either applying the criteria manually or by using targeting presets.

Targeting is done at the line item level only. To apply targeting to a specific creative, you must create a separate line item with its own targeting rules. Learn how to add targeting criteria to a line item.

Gather targeting values by asking users to register on your site or pulling information from your content management system about the content. Whether you store these values in cookies or a database doesn't affect Ad Manager, as long as your content system can create the necessary JavaScript on the page.

Targeting limitations

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.

You can target the following categories of criteria:

Also, you can create specific combinations of these targeting criteria to ensure that your line item targeting is extremely granular. Learn how Ad Manager processes targeting configurations with multiple values and multiple criteria

Inventory

You can target line items to either specific inventory (ad units and placements) or to all inventory units across your network.

Run-of-network targeting

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.

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.

Key-values

You can use this targeting option 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.

Geography

You can target line items to countries, regions, US metro areas (DMA), UK TV regions, cities, and US ZIP codes or Canadian postal code prefixes. 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.

Devices

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, Feature phone, Smartphone, Tablet, Connected TV (CTV) devices (Beta) .

  • 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 Query Tool reports. Devices must use an applicable user agent to be classified as a connected TV device.

Connection

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, and subdomains, such as stanford.edu, and usa.gov. Invalid values include services like http://www.psychology.berkeley.edu, and www.usa.gov.

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

Some video features might not be enabled for your network. Contact your account manager for information.

Video content (Advanced video)

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

Video positions (Advanced video)

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 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

How does Ad Manager handle multiple targeting conditions?

One of Ad Manager’s key capabilities is creating combinations of targeting criteria to target line items to a specific set of ad requests. Here's how Ad Manager processes targeting criteria:

  • If you specify multiple values for a single criterion (such as browser or device category), Ad Manager processes these criteria using a Boolean "OR" function. For example, if you select "Firefox 10.x" and "Firefox 11.x" as the browser criteria, Ad Manager targets site visitors using Firefox 10 OR Firefox 11.
  • If you specify multiple criteria in the targeting settings, Ad Manager processes these criteria in an "AND" function. For example, a line item might include two targeting criteria: browser type and a custom-defined "gender" criterion. If the browser type is set to "Firefox 11.x" and the gender is set as "male"', a site visitor would need to be male AND use Firefox 11 to meet the defined targeting criteria.
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