Target ads

Creative targeting

Apply targeting to the creative level in line items

Creative targeting allows you to add targeting that only applies to the creative in a line item. Whereas line item targeting applies to all creatives in a line item, targeting at the creative level can be configured differently from (but be consistent with) line item targeting. Learn about creative targeting for Programmatic Direct

Creative and line item targeting

Creative targeting should be consistent with line item targeting. Both are applied when an ad creative serves. Ensure that there are no conflicts between creative targeting and line item targeting otherwise a line item may fail to serve.

When to use creative targeting

Creative targeting is a flexible tool and can be useful for a variety of purposes. Some examples are included here:

  • Multiple ad slots: Suppose you have a campaign that's trying to reach users on Apple operating systems. Your advertisers want multiple creatives to show on a single webpage. In your line item, you target each creative to different ad slots (or ad units) that are tagged on the webpage. At the same time, you use line item targeting to indicate the line item only serve to Apple operating systems
  • Different users: Your advertiser needs to reach different users in North America with unique creatives that promote a new line of automobiles. The creatives are customized with backgrounds that reflect different locations across North America—say, a city scene, a desert scene, and perhaps a forest scene. To achieve this result, you can: 

The use of creative targeting also lets you more easily track aggregate impressions for line items that target multiple devices or operating systems.

Support restrictions

The following are not currently supported for creative-level targeting:

  • Audience targeting
  • Roadblocks

The following are currently supported in beta:

  • Video position targeting
  • Video content targeting
  • Video content bundle targeting

Serve creatives at different times of day (dayparting)

If you're looking to target creatives that serve at different times of the day, you'll need to create more than one line item with the creatives and use dayparting, which allows you to run line items at specific hours or days.

How to add creative targeting

  1. In a line item, under "Expected creatives", include inventory or ad sizes of the creatives you plan to later upload or associate.
  2. Click Show creative details to add more information for the creatives.
  3. Click the "Ad targeting" menu and click Add targeting again to open the targeting picker.
  4. Enter a creative targeting Name. Use this to describe the targeting for the creative. For example, “Android” would be the name for targeting the Android OS. The name you enter or select here will be listed in the line item view.
    • Once the targeting criteria is created, you can’t edit its name. Instead, you’d need to delete and recreate the criteria.
    • Criteria is shared within the line item, but not with other line items.
  5. Target the creative.

    Note that criteria you enter for the creative is in an AND relationship with line item targeting:

    • This means creative targeting can be a subset of the line item targeting. For example, the line item might target France, and the creative can target Paris.
    • If creative criteria and line item targeting criteria are mutually exclusive, the creative will not serve. For example, if the line item targets France and the creative targets London, it will not serve.
  6. To target the next creative, click Add size again, and repeat steps 3–6.
  7. Click Save. The creative targeting name is listed in the “Creative targeting” column.

Target creative targeting groups on each creative

  1. Once you’ve added all the creative targeting, add creatives for each size.
    • Check the creatives section in the saved line item. In addition to the missing creative sizes, the creative-level targeting rule for each inventory size is displayed. You should generally have at least one creative per size / targeting rule combination.
  2. For each creative, a new targeting section is displayed at the bottom of the screen, pre-populated with the creative-level targeting criteria set.  

System maximums and limits

There is a maximum of 800 targeting criteria per line item. This limit applies to the sum of creative and line item level targeting criteria.

There is a maximum of 61,000 active line items per publisher. Each creative targeting criterion counts toward the active line item limit. For example, a line item with 25 creative targeting criteria counts as 26 (1 line item + 25 targeting criteria) toward the 61,000 limit. Learn more about trafficking limits.

Other considerations

  • Sequential rotation is not supported by creative targeting.
  • Forecasting takes into account creative targeting when you save the line item.
  • The "begins with" (~) and "include" (*) match types are not supported for creative-level targeting to simplify serving complexity and match behavior. Other match types remain available.
  • Avoid applying creative targeting to roadblock line items to ensure creatives are displayed as expected. This is particularly important for line items with "Display creatives" set to "All".
  • Avoid reusing companion creatives when applying creative-level targeting to ensure the correct master/companion set is eligible to serve at each time. You can make a copy of the required companion and use copied versions instead.

Consistent creative targeting

Targeting between creatives and line items is in an AND relationship. As such, ensure that targeting between a line items and its creatives is consistent.

For example, if you target a creative to the Apple iOS operating system but target its line item to the Android operating system, the creative won’t serve. Likewise, if you target one creative to the Apple iOS operating system, another to the Android operating system, and don’t specify any device targeting in the line item, both creatives have the potential to serve because no operating system is specified for the line item.

Ensuring that targeting is consistent also applies to targeting inventory. If you target a line item to one ad unit, for instance, and then target its creative to a different ad unit, that creative won’t serve. However, when you target an ad unit, Ad Manager by default considers serving to any children of that ad unit. It's therefore possible to target a line item to an ad unit and then target its creatives to a lower-level ad units.

If a creative targets a special ad unit, then the line item must also explicitly target the special ad unit in order for the creative to serve.

When it comes time to serve creatives, Ad Manager:

  1. Determines which creatives are eligible to serve based on ad request targeting;
  2. If only one creative is eligible to serve, serves that creative;
  3. If more than one creative are eligible to serve, Ad Manager serves them according to frequency capping and creative rotation specified.

Set up a fallback creative

As a best practice, consider adding a creative at the line item level that can serve if no creatives match the creative targeting criteria . This ensures a creative serves based on the line item targeting if no impressions match creative-level targeting.

Adding a creative at the line item level without any creative targeting set is the simplest way to accomplish this but please note that this creative will be eligible for all creative targeting configurations due to the AND relationship between line items and creatives.

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