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Targeting your ads

Targeting ads so they show to the right customers is an essential part of a successful advertising campaign. You might have designed the perfect ad to attract your customers to your business, but unless you show it to the right people at the right time, your ad alone won't help you reach your goal. AdWords offers different ways of targeting your ads.

Before you begin

Starting in January 2017, and gradually becoming available to more and more advertisers through spring 2017, display and video ad groups that don’t have a targeting method will be eligible to show ads on the Google Display Network and YouTube. As a one-time exception, existing ad groups without targeting will be automatically paused to ensure they don't run ads you don't intend to show. Going forward, manually pause ad groups that aren’t ready to show ads. To learn more, go to Pause or resume your ad groups.

Targeting your ads to appear on Google search and search partner sites

Here's how you can target your text ads on Google search and the Google Search Network:

  • Keyword targeting: Choose words or phrases relevant to your product or service so your ads appear when customers use those terms to search on Google or search partner sites. By creating a highly relevant keyword list, you increase your chances to show your ads to the most interested customers.
  • Location and language targeting: Choose the language and geographic locations -- such as a country, region or city -- where your customers are located. After you set these targeting options, AdWords determines who to show your ads to based on several factors: the Google domain people use (like or, their search term, their computer's IP address (which can estimate its geographical location), their language preference set for Google, and the languages of sites they visited in the past.
  • Device targeting: Show your ads to the right people across all devices, based on their specific location, time of day, and device type.
  • Audience targeting: Show your ads to people who have previously visited your site by using remarketing lists for search ads(RLSA).


If you run a dog daycare center in San Francisco, California, you could add the keyword "doggie daycare," and "San Francisco and nearby cities," as the target location for your AdWords campaign. Then, when people in San Francisco type "doggie daycare" on Google, they could see your ad next to the search results.

Targeting your ads to appear on websites that partner with Google to show ads

Here's how you can target your text and display ads on the Google Display Network:

  • Keyword targeting: Choose words or phrases related to your product or service to target relevant websites, apps, and videos on the Display Network by using "Content" keywords. Also target relevant audiences who browse content about those keywords by using the "Audience" keyword setting.
  • Topic targeting: Target your ad to multiple pages about certain topics at once. Topic targeting lets you reach a broad range of pages on the Display Network. AdWords analyzes web content, considering factors such as text, language, link structure, and page structure. It then determines the central themes of each webpage and targets ads based on your topic selections.
  • Placement targeting: Choose websites on the Display Network that your customers visit where you'd like to see your ads. If you select this type of targeting, we'll only look at your chosen sites (managed placements) when searching for relevant places to display your ads. Unlike contextual targeting (automatic placements), placement targeting doesn't require keywords. A placement might be an entire website or a subset of a site.
  • Audience targeting: Show your ads to specific groups of people as they visit Display Network websites and apps. You can reach people who visited your site before by creating a remarketing campaign, or by showing your ads to affinity audiences, in-market audiences, or similar audiences. For example, you can select affinity audiences to reach potential customers at scale and make them aware of your business. If you want to reach customers who are researching and actively considering buying products or services like those you offer, you can select in-market audiences.

    You can also use custom affinity audiences to reach customers who may be likely to visit your site and who have interests that aren't included in the affinity audiences or in-market audiences.

  • Location and language targeting: Choose the language and geographic locations -- such as a country, region or city -- where your customers are located.
  • Device targeting: Choose to show ads to your customer when they visit Display Network sites only on desktop and laptop computers, or only on iPhones and Android devices, or on all of these.


If your business sells costumes, you could add the keyword "buy costumes" and the topic "Hobbies & Leisure > Special Occasions > Holidays & Seasonal Events," and target your image ad to iPhones or Android devices. Then, when people visit sites on the Display Network that have information about buying costumes, or webpages about Halloween or Mardi Gras from their Android phones, they could see your image ad.

Keep in mind

When you select multiple targeting methods on the Display Network, depending on your network settings, you might reach just the right customers or you might end up showing your ads to very few people. Find out where your ads might appear when you choose more than one targeting method.

Also, display ads appear only on the Google Display Network. They don't appear on search results pages. Like other ads appearing on the Display Network, display ads can be created for cost-per-click (CPC) and cost-per-thousand impressions (CPM) campaigns. They can be targeted to the entire Display Network for all relevant pages, or targeted to specific placements within the Display Network. They have the full range of targeting options, including targeting by location, demographics, and topics.

Next steps

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