Targeting your ads

Targeting ads so that 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.

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, like AOL. By creating a highly relevant keyword list, you increase your chances of showing 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 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) and their language preference set for Google.
  • Device targeting: Choose to show ads when people search on their computers, mobile phones with full browsers, like iPhones and Android devices or tablets. Depending on your goals, you can target one or multiple devices.

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:

  • Contextual targeting: This type of targeting is used to match your ads to sites or pages (also known as automatic placements) based on the keywords or topics that you’ve chosen. AdWords analyses each website's content and theme, considering factors such as text, language, link structure and page structure. Using these, Google determines the central themes of each webpage and targets AdWords ads to the page, based on your keyword or topic selections and other factors, including the pages a that person who sees your ad has recently browsed.
  • Keyword targeting: Choose words or phrases related to your product or service, so that Google can automatically target your ads to relevant websites on the Google Display Network that your customers visit (this is known as automatic placements).
  • Topic targeting: Target your ad to multiple pages about specific topics at once. Topic targeting lets you reach a broad range of pages on the Display Network.
  • 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. You can reach people who visited your site before by creating a remarketing campaign, or customers interested in specific categories, by adding interest categories.
  • 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.

Example

If your business sells costumes, you could add the keyword "buy costumes" and the topic "Hobbies & Leisure > Special Occasions & 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 web pages 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