Optimized targeting

Optimized targeting helps you find new and relevant people beyond your manually-selected audience segments. This gives your campaign the flexibility to explore customers who have the highest chance of converting as defined by your campaign to improve your return on investment for your display, video, audio, and YouTube video action campaigns.

  • For display, video, and audio line items: Optimized targeting will soon replace targeting expansion.
  • For YouTube video action campaigns: Optimized targeting is already available when targeting audience lists.

You can use optimized targeting to:

  • Expand to new audiences beyond your existing segments.
  • Discover new audiences more likely to convert to improve your campaign performance.
  • Improve your campaign’s performance by optimizing towards your KPIs while maintaining cost efficiency.

You may want to use manually-selected audiences without optimized targeting to:

  • Target only existing customers using an existing audience segment from past campaigns. This allows you to focus on marketing to previous customers.

Topics in this article

Important: If your line items use targeting expansion with fixed bidding, you must update your bid strategy to use automated bidding to continue using audience expansion with optimized targeting. Learn more about Using optimized targeting for display, video, and audio.

Brand safety

Optimized targeting respects your existing brand safety settings, such as content exclusions. Optimized targeting doesn't require additional changes to your brand safety settings.

How optimized targeting works

Optimized targeting uses your audience list as a starting point and gathers real-time data, such as clicks and conversions, from your campaign to find new audiences more likely to convert.

You can add the following targeting signals to create a starting point for optimized targeting:

  • Audience segments, custom segments, and customer data segments

Optimized targeting works with automated bidding and uses the same campaign objective as the bidding system. Optimized targeting also works with custom bidding strategies, allowing you to customize your goal, which are used across targeting and bidding to help improve your return on investment (ROI).

Important: Optimized targeting may adjust how your campaign serves ads as it finds better performing traffic. Traffic to your manually targeted audience list may be reduced if optimized targeting finds more traffic at the same ROI. You can turn off optimized targeting by deselecting the feature.


How you use optimized targeting depends on your campaign goals. Here are a few examples:

Discover new and relevant customers further along the sales funnel

Optimized targeting forms an informed model using campaign data, which includes campaign KPIs such as clicks and conversions, combined with query signals from impressions to find customers at the bottom level of the sales funnel in order to drive conversions while maintaining cost efficiency.

For example:

An advertiser wants to help attract new and relevant customers for a well-established gaming company already popular with repeat customers. They could create a campaign using optimized targeting with a first-party audience list to help meet their campaign goals.

Optimized targeting would form an informed model by using their campaign data, which includes the first-party audience list, to help discover new and relevant customers beyond the first-party audience list.

Expand your reach by finding customers beyond your existing segments

When used with targeting signals such as keywords that your audience is interested in (for example, custom audiences defined using keywords), Optimized Targeting forms an informed model to help you expand your reach beyond your manually-selected list.

For example:

An agency wants to help a book publisher acquire leads for new customers for their line of children's books. They could use optimized targeting and add custom intent audiences with keywords such as: "children's books", "family-friendly", and "family books".

Since optimized targeting continues to optimize while finding new and relevant customers that meet your campaign objective, it could stop serving to audience segments that don’t perform as well. For example, it could stop traffic to signals using “family literature” to optimize your reach.

Using optimized targeting in Display & Video 360

Optimized targeting is available for the following campaign type:

Display, Video, and Audio

Optimized targeting is automatically turned on when you create new line items for your display, video, or audio campaign when your line items use an automated bid strategy and audience targeting.

For existing line items, optimized targeting will automatically turn on for line items using automated bidding and audience targeting when you edit the line item.

To update your bidding strategy and audience targeting:

  1. For Bid Strategy: Choose Automated bidding.
  2. For Targeting: Choose one of the following audiences that support optimized targeting:

Once your line item is set up to use automated bidding and is targeting an eligible audience, you can use optimized targeting.

To turn on optimized targeting for your display, video, or audio line items:

  1. Navigate to a line items details page.
  2. Under Optimized Targeting, select Use optimized targeting.
  3. (Optional) If targeting a first-party audience list, you can choose to Exclude first-party audiences in your targeting.

YouTube & partners video

Optimized targeting is automatically turned on when you create new YouTube line items for your YouTube video action campaigns and use audience lists for targeting your ad groups.

For existing YouTube line items, optimized targeting will automatically turn on for ad groups with audience list targeting applied when you edit the line item.

If you’ve initially opted-out of optimized targeting and want to opt-in:

  1. Navigate to a line items details.
  2. Under Targeting, for ad groups targeting using Audience Lists:
    1. Under Optimized Targeting, select Use optimized targeting.

You can add the following targeting signals to optimize targeting for your YouTube video action campaigns: audience segments, custom segments, and customer data segments.

Note: Optimized targeting is only available for YouTube video action line items if you're using audience lists for targeting.

Reviewing campaign performance

You can generate an offline report using the optimized targeting dimension to measure which impressions come from optimized targeting and which come from manually-selected segments:

  • Yes: Impressions that come from optimized targeting.
  • No: Impressions that come from manually-selected segments.

With the optimized targeting dimension, the following additional dimensions are compatible. Learn more about Dimensions in reports:

  • Advertiser
  • Insertion order
  • Line item
  • Date
Your average cost-per-action (CPA) may fluctuate when you initially use optimized targeting. Your CPA will become more consistent over time when optimized targeting learns which targeting works best to drive the most conversions. This is similar to how automated bidding models work today.


When using optimized targeting:

  • Your ads may serve to users beyond your chosen targeting signals.
  • Your ads will serve on placements that you provide. Placements can't be used as a targeting signal.
  • Your ads won't serve to audiences that you exclude on your customer data segments.

Frequently asked questions

What “notch” on the slider for targeting expansion is equivalent to optimized targeting?

Optimized targeting works differently than targeting expansion, which means it doesn’t have an equivalent expansion level to targeting expansion.

See What makes optimized targeting different from audience expansion?

What makes optimized targeting different from audience expansion?

There are key differences between targeting expansion and optimized targeting:

  • Optimized targeting is more flexible and dynamic:
    • Optimized targeting works together with the bidding system to achieve the same campaign goal in order to achieve the best ROI.
    • It uses a manually-selected audience segment as a starting point, then finds new audiences by gathering real-time conversion data from your campaign.
  • Targeting expansion expanded against a pre-set criteria:
    • Targeting expansion used a manually-selected audience segment and expanded it by finding similar audiences that fit a criteria, such as sharing similar interests.
    • While targeting expansion used data such as clicks and conversions, it uses campaign data and performance metrics at a lesser extent than optimized targeting.
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