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Targeting your ads

Targeting ads so that they display 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 to reach your goal. AdWords offers different ways of targeting your ads.

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 that 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 – in which 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 that people use (like www.google.de or www.google.co.uk), their search term, their computer's IP address (which can estimate its geographical location), their language preference set for Google and the languages of websites that they have 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 website by using remarketing lists for search ads (RLSA).

Example

If you run a kennel in Birmingham, you could add the keyword "dog care", and "Birmingham and nearby cities" as the target location for your AdWords campaign. Then, when people in Birmingham type "dog care" 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 simultaneously. Topic targeting lets you reach a broad range of pages on the Display Network. AdWords analyses web content, considering factors such as text, language, link structure and page structure. It then determines the central themes of each web page and targets ads based on your topic selections.
  • Placement targeting: Choose websites on the Display Network that your customers visit on which you'd like to see your ads. If you select this type of targeting, we'll only look at your chosen websites (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 website.
  • Audience targeting: Show your ads to specific groups of people when they visit Display Network websites and apps. You can reach people who've 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 that you offer, then 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 – in which your customers are located.
  • Device targeting: Choose to show ads to your customer when they visit Display Network websites only on desktop and laptop computers, only on iPhones and Android devices, or on all of these.

Example

If your business sells costumes, then 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 websites on the Display Network that have information about buying costumes, or web pages about Halloween or Mardi Gras from their Android phones, they could see your image ad.

Bear 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.

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