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How placements and keywords work together

This article only applies to the previous AdWords experience. Check which AdWords experience you’re using

Placements and keywords can team up to determine where your ads will appear on the Display Network and how much you'll pay for them. You can choose to show your ads based only on your keyword list, while using placements to adjust your bidding. Or, you can use a combination of placements and keywords to refine where your ads are eligible to show. Using both together helps you narrow the audience for your ads, and set the right price for clicks from those potential customers.

Using placement targeting

  • Placements help you determine the exact URLs where your ads can appear.
  • To choose specific places for your ad to appear, try using placement targeting for your campaign or ad group.
  • Managed placements can help you promote your brand by having your ads appear on a certain website or a certain group of sites on the Display Network.

Using keyword targeting

  • Keyword lists determine the pages where your ad can be shown, specifically the subject or content of the page.
  • To help your ads appear next to lots of relevant content, try using keywords for your campaigns or ad groups.
  • For example, if you wanted your ad to appear near content that refers to tennis, you could try starting with keywords related to tennis. Note: This only applies to keywords in Display campaigns with “Content” selected for the keyword setting.

What happens when you target both keywords and placements

In the example diagrams below, the blue area represents the potential reach of keyword targeting, and the pink area shows the reach of placement targeting. The shaded areas are the reach defined by either the "Target and bid" setting, or the "Bid only" setting.

Placements -- Target and bid setting

Targeting keywords and placements together

When you add placements and keywords to an ad group to target your ads, your ads will only show on the page that you specify when the content is relevant to your keywords. AdWords uses contextual targeting to find pages in the Display Network with content that matches your keywords. If the placement you choose has multiple web pages, only the pages that match your keywords can show your ads. This placements setting is called "Target and bid", and greatly restricts where your ads can show.

Using keywords with placements narrows the targeting of your ads, and can limit the reach of your ad group. This option may be useful if you're targeting placements that have a wide variety of content, such as news sites and social networks. That way, your ads will be more likely to appear in relevant locations on those sites. However in many cases, layering multiple targeting methods can overly restrict the reach of your ad group. Make sure that you monitor your ad's performance to check that you're seeing the results that you want.

Example

Let's say that for your campaign you create an ad group with managed placements A, B and C, and the keyword red roses. When you add your placements, you set them to "Target and bid", and click Save.

Your ad will appear on placements A, B and C only if their content is related to red roses. So, if AdWords determines that matches for red roses appear only on A and B, your ad won't appear on placement C, even though you've selected it. Because placement C doesn't have any content about red roses, it's not a contextual match for your keyword, and your ad will not show.

Now, suppose placement A is a website about flowers, with 100 different pages: five about red roses, and 95 about other flower varieties. Because contextual targeting works down to the page level, AdWords might identify only those five pages about red roses as a good match for your keyword. Your ad won't appear on the other 95 pages of website A if those pages aren't matched to your keywords, even though you've added the entire website in your placement targeting.

Learn more about targeting settings on the Display Network.

Placements -- "Bid only" setting

Targeting keywords with additional bidding on placements

To show your ads on any variety of sites that match your keywords and only bid higher when your placements and keyword targeting overlap, your can choose "Bid only" before saving your placement targeting. Unlike the option above, choosing "Bid only" allows your ad to show on all placements that match your keyword targeting, but you set a certain bid for a specific placement.

Example

Say that you're an property rental company, and you want to show your ads on a range of websites, specifically on pages about renting flats in London. Start by adding keywords that are related to renting London flats – that will help your ad appear on any pages including those keywords. You also know that people who visit specific websites, for example websites A and B, are more likely to use your flat rental services.

To concentrate your ads on those sites, you add them to your placements targeting, choose "Bid only", and set higher bids for those specific placements. By choosing "Bid only", your ad can show on a variety of different websites that include your keywords, but you can set a higher CPC bid to prioritise showing ads on specific websites that also include your keywords.

Did you know?

Placement-targeted ads and keyword-targeted ads compete to appear on pages on the Display Network based on their Ad Rank. Ad Rank for placement-targeted or keyword-targeted ads, as well as all other ads targeted to the Display Network, is determined depending on whether the campaign uses cost per click (CPC) or cost per thousand viewable impressions (vCPM) bidding.

Monitoring your performance data

You can see your performance data, including impressions, for your placement-targeted and keyword-targeted ads.

Impressions for placements that you've targeted

When your ad appears on a placement that you've chosen, the impression will be reported both as a placement impression and a keyword impression.

You can see your data for placements and keywords by selecting the Display Network tab. Bear in mind that you can see your performance data for campaigns that target the Search and Display Networks or the Display Network only.

Example

Let's say that your ad group has three keywords – roses, tulips and sunflowers – and you have chosen www.example.com as a placement. If AdWords shows your ad 3 times on www.example.com based on both keyword and placement matching, it will be reported both as a keyword impression and a placement impression. You'll see the 3 impressions from www.example.com in your Placements tab, and you'll see the 3 impressions based on keyword targeting in your Keywords tab. For instance, if your ads showed on www.example.com once because of your keyword roses, twice because of your keyword tulips and 0 times for sunflowers, you'll see the impressions counted next to each keyword.

Here's how to find your statistics:

  • To see your managed placement impressions, click the Placements tab and look for placements with the status "Managed". You'll see your performance data, including impressions.
  • To see your keyword impressions, click the Display Keywords tab. You'll see a table with your performance data, including impressions.
Impressions for placements you haven't targeted

When keywords in your ad group trigger your ad to show on a placement that you didn't target, then the impression will be reported both as a keyword impression and placement impression.

You can see your data for placements and keywords by selecting the Display Network tab. Keep in mind that you can see your performance data for campaigns that target search and the Display Network, the Search and Display Networks or the Display Network only.

Here's how to find your statistics:

  • To see your automatic placement impressions, click the Placements tab and look for placements with the status "Automatic". You'll see your performance data, including impressions.
  • To see your keyword impressions, click the Display Keywords tab. You'll see a table with your performance data, including impressions.
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