About automatic targeting in Display

Automatic targeting helps optimize your targeting across the Display Network, letting you reach people your targeting wouldn’t otherwise reach, at around the same cost per person—automatically. Think of it as a simple, high-impact add-on that supplements the targeting you’ve already set up.

This article explains when to use automatic targeting, and how to choose between the two types of automatic targeting.

Before you begin

For instructions about turning on or off automatic targeting, see Use automatic targeting in Display.

When to use automatic targeting

Targeting optimization works best for advertisers in any of the following situations:

  • Find more customers
  • Identify the best targeting to reach your most likely customers
  • Increase reach without increasing bids or cost per customer

Automatic targeting results in new placements, so it's suitable for advertisers who don't have strict brand guidelines about where their ads appear. Keep in mind that you can still exclude placements from your ad group or campaign. It's not recommended, however—excluding placements can decrease the performance of your automatic targeting.

Types of automatic targeting

You can select from “conservative targeting” or “aggressive targeting” (known also as Display Campaign Optimizer). Both types can help you reach additional customers, but aggressive targeting applies more variations to your targeting. So if your keyword is “pens,” conservative targeting may extend to “felt-tip pens" and “ballpoint pens,” but aggressive targeting might show your ads in contexts related to “whiteboard markers” or “mechanical pencils”—if there’s data to suggest that those keywords will lead to conversions.

Availability: Conservative targeting is available for all Display Network campaigns. Aggressive targeting is available for all Display Network campaigns with at least 15 conversions per month. This minimum is necessary because "aggressive" automatic targeting analyzes your campaign’s performance data to predict, test, and optimize targeting.

Conservative versus aggressive targeting: Aggressive targeting lets you reach more people than conservative targeting. The advantage of conservative over aggressive targeting is that, for a large majority of advertisers, it doesn't exceed your current cost per customer (or Target CPA, if that’s the bidding strategy you’re using). So conservative targeting can be a better option for advertisers on a fixed or limited budget, or for those who need to hit their cost-per-customer targets.

Here are general guidelines:

  • Use conservative targeting when you want more conversions, but need to stay close to your current cost per customer (or Target CPA).
  • Use aggressive targeting when you want to get as many conversions as possible, and are comfortable with some variation from your current cost per customer (or Target CPA).

Automatic enrollment

Display campaigns are automatically enrolled in conservative targeting, with the exception of Android app promotion campaigns (which default to aggressive targeting).

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