Manage ads

Keyword targeting

You can target your ad to keywords in the placement tag.

  1. Choose Include placeholder in your placement properties to include a keyword placeholder for your publisher. This makes it easy for you or your publisher to add keywords to your tags.

    Or choose Generate a tag for each keyword if you need to use different tags for each keyword targeted by each ad. Campaign Manager will automatically include each keyword you target in a separate tag, but no single tag will have more than one keyword. Learn more

  2. Ask your publisher to replace the placeholder with the keywords you wish to target, or add them yourself.

    This is important, because Campaign Manager targets the keywords in your tags. When an impression is available, Campaign Manager checks whether the one or more of the targeted keywords is in the tag. If it is not in the tag, Campaign Manager does not serve the ad.

  3. Add these keywords to the Keyword expressions section of your ad properties. Your ad will only serve to a site if the placement tag includes these keywords in the keyword handling section (kw=).

For more advanced keyword targeting, use more advanced keyword expressions (see below).

When to use keyword targeting

Typically, keyword targeting is used to target ads based on publisher data. For example, the publisher may insert keywords that identify the section of a site where the ad request originates, or what language is used on the page. Publishers may also add this kind of data dynamically.

For example, if a site has a search function, a publisher may add code to your tag that expands dynamically into the term a user searches for on the site. If the search term matches the keyword you target in your ad properties, the ad serves to the user. If the search term doesn't match, another ad serves. 

Basic keyword targeting example

You want to use the same placement for ads that appear on three different parts of a site: the main page, the contacts page, and the about page. However, one of the ads on your placement is only meant for users on the main page. Here's what you do:

  1. Assign a few ads to a placement and export tags. Ask your publisher to implement your tags in three different places on a site: the main page, the contacts page, and the about page. 

  2. Ask the publisher to add the keyword "main" to the tag that goes on the main page.

  3. Open the properties of the ad you want to show on the main page. Enter main in the Keyword expression field. Because main is found only in the tag on the main page, this ad will only serve to users on the main page. 

Dynamic keyword targeting example

You want a different ad to appear depending on whether the user searches for "soda", "juice", or "water" on a site. For users who don't search for these terms, you want to show a more generic ad. Here's what you do:

  1. Assign a soda ad, a juice ad, a water ad, and a generic ad to your placement. Using the Keyword expression field in your ad properties, target the soda ad to soda, the juice ad to juice, and the water ad to water

  2. Set the priority for the generic ad to be a higher number (i.e., a lower priority) than the other ads.

  3. Ask the publisher to add code that expands dynamically into the term a user searches for on the site. When a user searches for soda, the code will expand into soda and the ad targeted to soda will be eligible to serve. The same process selects the juice ad or water ad depending on the search. 

    If a user doesn't search for these terms, only the generic ad will be eligible to serve. 

Advanced keyword expression targeting example

You want to target your ads to users who search a site for any of the following keywords:

  • soda
  • juice
  • drink, as long as user didn't also search for straw.

Here's what you do:

  1. Assign an ad to your placement.

  2. Enter the following keyword expression into the the Keyword expression section of your ad properties: soda, juice, (drink and !straw).

    The explanation point before straw means that the word "straw" must not be found. So (drink and !straw) means that "drink" only meets your criteria if "straw" is not found.

  3. Assign a generic ad to your placement and don't target it to a keyword. Set the priority for the generic ad to be a higher number (i.e., a lower priority) than the other ad.

  4. Ask the publisher to add code that expands dynamically into the term a user searches for on the site.

    • In this case, the ad can serve if a user searches for soda, for juice, or for drink (if the user didn't also search for straw).

    • If a user doesn't search for these terms, only the generic ad will be eligible to serve. 

  5. Campaign Manager logs the search term that matches your criteria. Campaign Manager will not log any of the other search terms. In the case above, if the user searched for juice, only the search term "juice" would be logged.

What are keyword expressions?

Keyword expressions include any group of keywords. The simplest way to group keywords is to separate them with commas, such as: soda, juice, water. In this case, your ad serves if any of these keywords is found in the keyword handling section of the tag (or if all three are found).

You can use special characters to set more advanced rules for how Campaign Manager targets keywords. See the bottom of this article for a table of special characters and their uses in keyword targeting.

Keyword targeting and your reports

Campaign Manager logs the exact keyword expression you target and associates it with each impression. Campaign Manager does not log which particular keyword is found in your tags. It only tells you which keyword expression matched your tags for a particular impression.

Example
  1. Say you target a car ad with the keyword expression car,driver.

    This means Campaign Manager must find either car or driver in the tag to serve your ad.

  2. Next, your publisher adds code to the tag that pulls in any keywords that visitors search for when they visit the site.

  3. After your tag goes live, a user visits and searches for "cars" on the site. Now the tag has the keyword car in it, because the user searched for "cars" on the site and the publisher's system dynamically added the search term to your tag.

  4. Later, the user visits a page that has your tag. The tag's keyword matches the keyword expression you wanted to target your car ad to. It matches because one of the two keywords was found (car). For this reason, the impression goes to your car ad.

  5. In your reports, Campaign Manager will show associate the impression with the keyword expression car,driver. It will not log which keyword was actually found in the tag. You will only know that one or both of the keywords was found.

FAQ

What characters can't I use in keywords?

The following special characters cannot be used in keyword expressions: 

  • ^ (caret)
  • + (plus sign)
  • < > (angle brackets)
  • * (asterisk)
How do I target a keyword if it includes a character I can't use?

Ask the publisher to add code to the keyword handling section of your tag that changes the special character into a substitute. Then target that substitue.

For example, say you want to target your ad to users who search for the keyword  C++. Ask the publisher to set up the code so that any instance of a plus sign is changed to {plus}in your tag. Then target your add to the keyword C{plus}{plus}.

Can I change keywords as much as I want? Is there a limit?

An ad can use 1500 keywords over its lifetime. The total count of keywords includes any currently active keywords, each time you modify a keyword, and any keywords that were previously used and have been deleted. Note that terms joined by an and are counted as one keyword.

Keep in mind that for counting purposes, keyword expressions using parentheses are parsed into keyword expressions that don't need them. For example, if you enter car and (stereo,audio), keywords are counted for the equivalent expression car and stereo,car and audio. Two keywords are counted.

Special characters in keyword expressions

                                                                                                                                                                             
Special character Usage Example

, (comma)

Separates keywords in a list. Any keyword in the list is a match. Equivalent to the Boolean operator OR.

audio,equipment

       

The ad can serve either audio or equipment or both keywords are found.

# (pound or hash sign)

Requires an exact match with whatever comes after the hash sign.

#car

       

The ad can only serve if car is found in the tag by itself. If other keywords are included in the keyword section, the ad is not served.

       

#car,#audio

       

The ad can serve if car or audio is found, but not both.

" " (quotation marks)

Requires the exact phrase within the quotation marks.

"audio equipment"

       

The ad can serve only if the exact phrase audio equipment is found. No other combination of the two words is a match, and no additional letters are allowed. Variations such as audio equipments, equipment, or equipment audio are not considered matches.

       
You can only create keyword phrases that include spaces by putting them in quotation marks. For example, you won't be allowed to save the keyword expression audio equipment without quotation marks. However, you can use spaces to separate Boolean operators such as and and or (for example, audio and equipment is an acceptable keyword phrase).

and

Use with two keywords, one before and one after the word and. Requires that both keywords are found.

audio and equipment

       

The ad can serve if both  audio and equipment are found. If other keywords are also found, or if the keywords are in a different order, the ad can still serve.

( ) (parentheses)

Groups keywords aso that you can set rules within the parentheticals.

       

Parentheses around a single keyword are ignored.

car and (new,used)

       

The ad can serve if car plus either new or used are found. So if car and new are found, the ad can serve. If car and used are found, the ad can serve. If car and new and used are found, the ad can serve. If only new is found, the ad can't serve.

! (exclamation point)

Excludes the keyword that follows it.

       
You must include a keyword you wish to target in order to add one you wish to exclude. You can't add the excluded keyword by itself.

car and !stereo

       

The ad can serve if car is found and stereo is not found. If car and stereo are both found, the ad can't serve. If car is not found and neither is stereo, the ad can't serve. If stereo is found, the ad can't serve.

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