Targeting the Display Network

On the Google Display Network you can reach a wide range of customers, choose which sites or pages your ads appear on, and engage people with a variety of appealing ad formats.

To advertise on the Display Network, use any type of “Display Network only” or “Search Network with Display Select” campaign.

The basics, get your ads on to the Display Network

Targeting methods like keywords and affinity audiences get your ads on to the Display Network.

Keyword is buy soccer balls

You sell sporting goods. For your soccer campaign, you want your ads to show on pages related to soccer. So, you target Display keywords like buy soccer balls.

How to do this in your AdWords account

When you add targeting methods like keywords or affinity audiences, you’re telling AdWords where your ads can show or who can see your ads as they browse the Display Network. You add targeting to the ad groups in your Display Network campaigns.

  1. Click the Display Network tab under all All campaigns.
  2. Click + Targeting.
  3. Select the Add targeting drop-down menu and choose one of several targeting methods. To show ads on pages related to soccer, you might select Display keywords and add buy soccer balls.
  4. Click Close and save your ad group.

Depending on the options you choose, you may see a calculator to the side that shows available impressions for the targeting you’ve selected. The number of available impressions can often be quite large depending on what you select. For more information about available impressions, read View reach estimates for the Display Network

Have more control over where your ads show, choose targeting settings

Targeting settings like “Target and bid” and “Bid only” also determine the reach of your ads. Think of them as controls that do the following:

“Target and bid”

  • Restricts your ads to showing for the targeting method you’ve selected, like keywords
  • Allows you to set bids for individual targeting, like $2.00 for buy soccer balls
Affinity audience is Soccer Fans

Based on your Display keywords, your ads can now show on pages about soccer. However, you want to reach soccer fans specifically, so you target the affinity audience Soccer Fans and set both targeting methods to “Target and bid.”

“Bid only”

  • Doesn’t restrict your ads to showing for the targeting method you’ve selected
  • Allows you to set bids for individual targeting, like $2.00 for Soccer Fans
Affinity audience is Soccer Fans

Using the same example as above, let’s say you have a preference for your ads to show to soccer enthusiasts but don’t want to limit your ads to this audience. You decide to do the following:

  • Set Display keywords as "Target and bid" so your ads are shown based on your keywords.
  • Set “Interests & Remarketing” to “Bid only” with an increased bid on Soccer Fans to increase the chances your ads will show to people with that affinity audience.

How to do this in your AdWords account

When you add multiple targeting methods to the same ad group and set these to “Target and bid,” you’re telling AdWords to restrict or narrow the reach of your ads. When you add additional targeting methods and set them to “Bid only,” you’re telling AdWords not to restrict where your ads show but to increase or decrease its chances of showing depending on the bid you choose.

  1. Repeat steps 1-3 from the first section for each additional targeting method you add to your ad group.
  2. Choose either “Target and bid” or “Bid only” for each targeting method. Note that at least one targeting method should be set to “Target and bid.”
  3. (Optional) Choose different bids for your targeting. For example, you can set a bid for Soccer Fans from the Interests & remarketing sub-tab.

To the side you may notice that each time you add a targeting method to your ad group and set it to “Target and bid,” the number of available impressions shrinks. This is typical when you add multiple targeting methods set to “Target and bid” in a single ad group.

Keywords Keywords + affinity audience Keywords + affinity audience + gender

Important note: For small and medium businesses, it's better to set fewer targeting methods to “Target and bid” in an ad group. Otherwise you may be narrowing the reach of your ads so they rarely show.

Try advanced targeting combinations based on your goals

Direct sales campaigns

If your goal is to sell products and reach a specific type of audience, you might want to add a few targeting methods to your ad group that are set to “Target and bid.” Then your ads can show only when the specific targeting methods you've selected match. Here are some sample combinations:

Targeting methods “Target and bid” (default setting) “Bid only” When ads can show
Keywords + placements Keywords + placements Not selected Keywords AND placements both required for ads to show.
Audiences + age Audiences + age Not selected Audiences AND age both required for ads to show.
Keywords + topics Keywords + topics Not selected Keywords AND topics both required for ads to show.
Remarketing + gender Remarketing + gender Not selected Remarketing AND gender both required for ads to show.
Topics + audiences Topics + audiences Not selected Topics AND in-market audiences both required for ads to show.

Brand campaigns

If your goal is to reach as many people as possible, you might not want to add too many targeting methods to your ad group. You may still choose, however, to add multiple targeting methods so you can set bids on a particular one without significantly limiting your reach. Here are some sample combinations:

Targeting methods “Target and bid” (default setting) “Bid only” What it means
Age + gender + affinity audiences Age + gender + affinity audiences Not selected Age AND gender AND affinity audiences all required for ads to show.
Affinity audiences and age* Affinity audiences Age Affinity audiences required for ads to show. If affinity audiences and age overlap, you’ll see reporting for both. The bid used will depend on your bidding selection.
Keywords + placements Keywords Placements Keywords required for ads to show. If keywords and placements overlap, you’ll see reporting for both. The bid used will depend on your bidding selection.
Keywords + gender * Keywords Gender Keywords required for ads to show. If keywords and gender overlap, you’ll see reporting for both. The bid used will depend on your bidding selection.
Topics + affinity audiences + placements Topics + affinity audiences Placements Topics AND affinity audiences both required for ads to show. If topics, affinity audiences, and placements overlap, you’ll see reporting for all. The bid used will depend on your bidding selection.

* These combinations can be useful for people who would like to increase their chances of reaching certain demographic groups, but don't want to restrict their traffic to those groups only.

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