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About targeting criteria

Targeting criteria is information that you specify at the line item level to help your advertisers target ads to inventory units, specific audiences, and custom criteria. You can use a combination of these criteria to target line items at a level more granular than ad units and placements by either applying the criteria manually or by using targeting presets.

With DFP Small Business, you can specify the following criteria:



You can target line items to either specific inventory (ad units and placements) or to all inventory units across your network.

Target to specific inventory units

In the line item’s "Add targeting" section, click Inventory to select specific ad units and placements to which to target the line item. The line item will only deliver to the inventory units you select.

Target to all inventory units

If you don’t select any targeting criteria for the line item at all, then the line item could deliver to all ad units in your network to which it’s eligible to serve (based on the size and other targeting options you select).


Custom criteria

Targeting option that you can use together with system-defined criteria such as bandwidth, geography, or operating system. To use custom targeting, you set up key-values in the DFP UI and then include those key-values in your ad tags. If a line item targets a key-value, the ad server will serve it to the ad tags on your website that include the key-value (assuming all other targeting criteria in the line item matches the ad tag). You can specify up to 20 keys for custom targeting criteria and up to 200 values for each key.

You can use custom and free-form targeting keys in the same line item. However, an individual target key may only be set to custom or free-form targeting, not both.

When running a forecast on a prospective line item, free-form values are taken into account immediately; defined values need to have been added 28 days prior to a forecast in order be fully accounted for in the projection. See How forecasting accounts for custom criteria to learn more.

Examples of custom targeting

Target line items to demographic groups

You can define custom criteria based on common characteristics of your site visitors that you collect through your website. DFP Small Business can't determine these criteria, but if, for example, you have user registration data from your site, you can specify demographic information such as gender, age and user interests. You could create a custom key, gender, with the values male and female. 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 Small Business criteria and your custom criterion gender.

Target line items to very specific areas of your site

Another way you might use custom targeting is to target ads to specific pages on your site. You could create an ID for each page or article and then create key-values like articleID=123. Add that key-value to the ad tags of that page and then target your line item to that key-value to ensure your line item only shows up on that page. Most publishers pass such key-values to their ad tags dynamically through their content management system (CMS).

You can also use custom targeting to target ads to specific ad slot positions. Maybe you sell your ad slots above the fold at a premium. You can create a key to define the ad slot position as top (e.g., position=top) and target certain line items to that key-value so they won't show below the fold.

(Learn more about custom targeting criteria and how to define it.)



You can target line items to countries, regions, metro areas (DMA), cities, and U.S. zip codes or Canadian postal code prefixes. Either search for a specific place or browse through the list of countries and drill down to the places you want to target. For example, you can target country=US AND city=Paris. You can also exclude places. For example, you can target country=France AND city!=Paris to target France but exclude Paris.



You can target line items to a user’s browsing environment:

  • Bandwidth: cable, DSL, etc.

  • Browser: Android, Chrome, Firefox, Google Chrome, Microsoft Internet Explorer, etc.

  • Browser language: Chinese, English, Italian, German, etc.

  • Operating system: Android, Apple iOS, Linux, Macintosh, Microsoft Windows, etc.

Target line items to all browser versions or versions not in the list

To target the line item to all versions of a particular browser, select browser name (x.x). To target the line item to versions of a browser that aren't in the list, select browser name Unknown.Unknown. For example, 4.x targets all releases of the browser between version 4 and up to, but not including version 5. That is, 4.1, 4.2 and so on.

Learn how to add targeting criteria to a line item.


User domains

You can set line items to target ads only to the domains or subdomains of the Internet service providers (ISPs) your users use to access the Internet. For example, if you target, you are targeting students, faculty, and staff of Stanford University only. If you target, you are targeting Google employees only. You can specify top-level domains, such as .edu, and .gov, and subdomains, such as, and Invalid values include services like, and

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