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About key-value targeting

Key-values (4:43)

Use key-value targeting with care. Under the terms of your contract, you must not pass any information to DoubleClick that DoubleClick could use or recognize as personally identifiable information.

With key-value targeting, you can define your own targeting criteria (such as age, gender, or content) that DFP is not able to determine. For example, you can define criteria based on common characteristics of your site’s visitors such as gender, age and interests.

To use key-value targeting, create key-values in DFP, target your line items to them, then pass the key-values into your ad tags. If a line item targets a key-value, the ad server only serves it to ad tags on your website that include that key-value. Learn about system limits for keys and values

You don’t need to create a key-value to represent the size of your ad tag, since you define ad tag size when you create ad units.

If your DFP network is linked to Ad Exchange,  the key-values you create in DFP are also available for targeting in your linked Ad Exchange account.

Predefined versus free-form key-values

You can either pre-define a key and its values or set up a free-form key-value. With free-form key-values, you define the key but the values are dynamically passed to the ad tag based on information about a user or a user's behavior. If you require more than 200 possible targeting values per key and don't want to define your targeting values in advance, use free-form targeting instead of key-value targeting.

Predefined key-values

Use predefined key-values when you know the possible values of a targeting key based on common characteristics of your site’s visitors. Let's say you want to target a line item to people between the ages of 18-34. Create a predefined key called age and enter the desired age ranges as values. When you create the line item, select age as a key and 18-34 as the value. That key-value remains hard-coded in the ad tag.

When targeting a line item to a predefined key-value, you see a list of values that are defined in DFP Inventory. You can only choose from that list of values. Once a value is removed from the Inventory section, you don't see it as an option when targeting that key.

Free-form key-values

Free-form key-values let you pass targeting values dynamically into an ad tag based on information you collect from your users. For example, you can use free-form key-values to target ads based on a user’s search terms on your site. Use wildcards to accommodate search variances and use "begins with" in the targeting value. To do this, your webmaster should add JavaScript code to your site that translates search terms entered by your site's visitors into key-values and passes those key-values into the ad tags.

With free-form targeting, you can have thousands of possible targeting values without defining each one ahead of time. For example, you can create a free-form key called occupation and add specific occupations when you create the line item. To target a specific value, enter that targeting value into your line item.

When you target a line item to a free-form key-value, you see an open text box. Beneath that box, you may see a list of suggested values based on values you've targeted in the past. Choose from that list or type a new value in the box.

Let's say you have a car website where users search for information about different brands of cars. You want to target a line item to appear any time a user searches for the term autoco (a fictitious car brand created for this example). First, create a free-form key. It doesn’t matter what key you create as long as it means something to you; for example, you might create car= or brand=or search=. Let’s say you create search=. Next, make sure your webmaster has set it up so that when a user searches for a term, the key-value search=search_term is passed to your ad tags. Once that's in place, you can target ads in DFP to the search term autoco by targeting search=autoco in the key-value section of the line item screen. Then, whenever a user searches for the word autoco, your line item appears.

That would be an effective targeting solution for your Autoco ads, but you'd probably see very few impressions for this ad because DFP uses exact match by default when targeting key-values. Unless the key-value in your ad tag exactly matches the key-value targeted by the line item, the line item won't deliver to that ad tag. In the example above, if the line item is targeting search=autoco and a user types in autoco coupe, that line item won’t deliver to them because the search term they entered (autoco coupe) and the key-value created dynamically from that search term (search=autoco coupe) don't match exactly with the line item targeted in DoubleClick for Publishers (search=autoco).

Use cases

Target line items to demographic groups

You can define custom criteria based on common characteristics of your site’s visitors. DFP can't determine these criteria, but if, for example, you have user registration data, you can specify demographic information such as gender, age, and user interests, then create a custom key based on those values. Then you could target specific user types like "Men in the San Diego metropolitan area who use Mac OS X" using a combination of DFP and custom criteria.

Target line items to very specific areas of your site

You can also use key-values to target ads to specific pages on your site. Create an ID for any page and then create key-values like articleID=123. Add that key-value to the page’s ad tags and then target your line item to that key-value. Most publishers pass such key-values to their ad tags dynamically through their content management system (CMS).

You can also use key-values to target ads to specific ad slot positions. For instance, if you sell your ad slots above the fold at a premium,  create a key to define the ad slot position as top (for example, position=top) and target certain line items to that key-value so they don't show below the fold.

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