Keyword targeting

You can use contextual keyword targeting, also known as keyword contextual targeting (KCT), to check site content, app store descriptions, and video metadata to help target content that’s relevant to your brand, product, or service. This helps you match website, app, and video inventory with specific keywords so that you can focus on getting impressions that’s most relevant to your campaign goals.

There are two types of keyword targeting in Display & Video 360:

  1. You can positively target keywords to check for inventory you want to include in your campaign.
  2. You can negatively target keywords to check for inventory you want to exclude from your campaign. If you have a list of keywords you frequently use, you can save time by creating a negative keyword list or by adding keyword exclusions at the advertiser level.

Keyword targeting works on Google Ad Manager and third-party exchange inventory.

Important: Keyword targeting may not function effectively for all in-app content since some apps are categorized by the main function of the app, rather than the in-app content.

Topics in this article

How keyword targeting works in Display & Video 360

Display & Video 360 uses Google search technology to check webpage text, app store descriptions, or video metadata for keywords to help you target inventory that aligns with your campaign's goals for your brand, product, or service.

Display & Video 360 frequently crawls pages, app store descriptions, and video metadata to stay up-to-date with content changes to help consistently match inventory to your relevant keywords.

By default, all keyword match types are eligible to match to close variants. Close variants allow keywords to match to terms that are similar, but not identical to the targeted keyword, and help you connect with people who are looking for your business—despite slight variations in the way they search—reducing the need to build out exhaustive keyword lists to reach these customers.

Positive keyword targeting

When you positively target keywords, your keywords are matched using phrase matching. Positively targeting keywords automatically expands to include the plural, canonical and synonym forms of your keywords to improve coverage and minimize the chance of missing inventory matches. Adding keywords increases and focuses your reach because more inventory can match your keywords and serve your ads. A narrow keyword inclusion list limits the number of inventory that can serve your ads and may limit your reach.

  • Canonical keywords: These different keywords with the same semantic meaning. For example, canonicalized keywords for "travel London" could include "travel in London" and "London travel". You’d only need to positively target 1 keyword to target the other 3.
  • Phrase matching: You can use more than one word as a keyword. Your ad would serve where there’s an exact match for the phrase or includes any of the words in your keyword phrases. The meaning of the keyword can be implied, and terms can be a more specific form of the meaning.

Example: Positive keyword targeting

Example

If you’re building a campaign for a shoe company launching a new line of waterproof shoes, you could target the keyword “tennis shoe”. In this example, your ads would serve on website, app, and video inventory that mention:

  • “tennis shoe”
  • “tennis”
  • “shoe”

This automatically expands to include:

  • Plural form: “tennis shoes”
  • Canonical form: “shoes tennis”
  • Synonyms: “buy tennis shoes”, “shoes for tennis”

If you wanted to cover the top 3 common misspelled variations for “tennis shoes” you would manually add: “tennnis”, “shooes”, “shues”

Negative keyword targeting

Negative keywords can help you avoid targeting unrelated sites, apps, or videos. Depending on the other keywords or targeting methods in your line item or ad group, some places where your ad appears may occasionally contain excluded terms. Negative keywords cover exact matches, but also expand for a broader match. Adding negative keyword reduces the number of inventory that can serve your ads when it matches your excluded keywords.

For YouTube negative keyword targeting if there is a strong match between the negative keyword and the video, your ads generally won't be served. This does not mean ads are excluded from showing on every site, app, or video that contains that negative keyword. Here are some reasons why your ads may appear on videos that are similar to, or not exact matches to, your negative keywords:

  • Your ads still might show on pages that contain variations of the terms that you select as negative keywords (for example, if you have the negative keyword “wine bottle”, your ad may still show on a video about wine racks).
  • Your ads might still show on videos that contain only one of your negative keyword terms if your keyword terms are more than one word. Let's say you add the negative keyword "wine bottle." Your ad might still show with videos that contain "stemless wine glasses," "red wine," or "glass bottle." However, your ad wouldn't show with videos on "red wine bottle" or "wine bottle opener."

If Display & Video 360 can’t determine the context of a website, app, or video inventory, it’ll automatically exclude it from serving a line item with keyword exclusions.

Negative keyword targeting isn’t intended to be a form of brand safety targeting. To learn more, see Brand safety targeting.

Example: Negative keyword targeting

Example

A set of negative keywords like "women’s pants" would block bidding on content about women’s jeans, even if the exact phrase "women’s pants" didn't appear on the page. However, we wouldn't generalize beyond the concept of women’s pants to other kinds of women’s bottoms (for example, skirts) or men’s slacks.

 

Creating effective keywords

You can use the following table that summarizes considerations when creating effective keywords for positive and negative keyword targeting in Display & Video 360:

Consideration

Positive keyword targeting

Negative keyword targeting

Pluralization

YesPlural versions of your keywords are automatically targeted. For example, targeting “ski hat” as a keyword automatically targets “ski hats”

NoDoesn’t automatically expand your excluded terms by adding plural forms.

Canonicalization

YesCanonicalized versions of your keywords are automatically targeted. For example, targeting “ski hat” automatically targets “hat ski”.

 YesCanonicalized versions of your keywords are automatically targeted. For example, targeting “ski hat” automatically targets “hat ski”.

Synonyms

YesSynonyms related to your keywords are automatically targeted.For example, targeting “ice cream” would automatically target “sorbet”

NoDoesn’t automatically expand your excluded terms by adding plural forms

Misspellings

YesMay include misspellings, singular or plural forms, stemmings (for example, floor and flooring), abbreviations, or accents.

NoDoesn’t automatically expand your negative keywords to include misspellings.

Special symbols

YesYouTube line items allow the following special symbols: " [] +

NoThe following symbols are aren’t accepted: , . ! @ % ^ () = {} ; ~ ` <> ? \ | “ [] {} +

NoThe following symbols aren’t accepted: , . ! @ % ^ () = {} ; ~ ` <> ? \ | “ [] {} +

Use keyword targeting

You can use a single term or a phrase as a single keyword entry for keyword targeting at the advertiser, campaign, insertion order, or line item level:

  • Advertiser level: Keyword exclusions at the advertiser level apply a blanket keyword exclusions to all campaigns, excluding Instant Reserve deals for Shorts ads, Connected TV and Digital Out of Home line items.
  • Campaign level: Keyword targeting at the campaign level applies a blanket keyword list to all insertion orders within the campaign.
  • Insertion order level: Keyword targeting at the insertion order level applies the keyword list to all line items in that insertion order. Setting up keyword targeting at the insertion level overwrites keywords at the campaign level.
  • Line item level: Keyword targeting at the line item level only applies to the individual line item.

To target keywords at the advertiser level:

  1. Navigate to your advertiser's Advertiser Settings > Targeting in the left menu.
  2. Find Keywords and click edit. 
  3. Enter a list of keywords to include, either one item to a line or separated by commas.
  4. Click Apply.

Keywords set at the advertiser level can not not be edited at the insertion order, line item, or ad group levels.

To use keyword targeting for an existing campaign:

  1. From the advertiser level, go to Campaign settings.
  2. Under Additional details, enter up to 5 keywords.

To use keyword targeting for an existing insertion order:

  1. From the advertiser level, go to Campaigns.
  2. Select a campaign.
  3. Select an insertion order.
  4. Choose Insertion order details.
  5. Under Targeting, choose Add targeting and then Keywords.
  6. Choose Include.
  7. You can either:
    1. Enter one individual keywords to exclude per line separated by commas or
    2. Choose Generate suggestions to get a list of related suggestions based on your existing keywords or landing page URL
  8. Choose Apply.
  9. Choose Save when done.

To use keyword targeting for an existing line item:

  1. From the advertiser level, go to Campaigns.
  2. Select a campaign.
  3. Select an insertion order.
  4. Select a line item.
  5. Under Targeting, choose Add targeting and then Keywords.
  6. Choose Include.
  7. You can either:
    1. Enter one individual keywords to exclude per line separated by commas or
    2. Choose Generate suggestions to get a list of related suggestions based on your existing keywords or landing page URL
  8. Choose Apply.
  9. Choose Save when done.

Create a negative keyword list

Creating a negative keyword list helps you group terms and save time so you won’t have to manually add the same negative keywords to your campaigns. Advertisers can create up to 20 negative keyword lists.

Important: YouTube & partners support the use of negative keyword lists at the line item
level, but not at the ad group level. Alternatively, you can exclude 5,000 individual words for YouTube ad groups. Learn more about targeting for YouTube & partners line items

To create a negative keyword list:

  1. From the advertiser level, go to Resources and then Channels & Keywords.
  2. Choose Negative keyword lists.
  3. Select New list.
  4. Enter the following:
    1. Name: Enter a descriptive name to help you identify the negative keyword list for targeting.
      • The field doesn’t accept the following symbols: , . ! @ % ^ () = {} ; ~ ` <> ? \ | “ [] {} +
    2. Keywords: Enter one keyword per line and separate keywords with a comma.
      • Your keyword list can contain a maximum of 5000 keywords.
  5. Choose Save when done.

Target negative keywords or keyword list

Negative keywords help you avoid irrelevant impressions and help focus inventory with content relevant to your campaign. You can target negative keywords or create a negative keyword list to prevent your ads from serving on sites that are irrelevant to your campaign goals.

You can target negative keywords at the advertiser level. Advertiser level negative keywords will be applied to all new and existing line items and ad groups.   At the insertion order or line item level you can target negative keywords and negative keyword lists. Each line item can target a maximum of 4 negative keyword lists.

To target negative keywords at the advertiser level:

  1. Navigate to your advertiser's Advertiser Settings > Targeting in the left menu.
  2. Find Keywords and click edit. 
  3. Enter a list of keywords to exclude, either one item to a line or separated by commas.
  4. Click Apply.

Negative Keywords set at the advertiser level can not not be edited at the insertion order, line item, or ad group levels.

To target negative keywords or keyword lists at the insertion order level:

  1. From the advertiser level, go to Campaigns.
  2. Select a campaign.
  3. Select an insertion order.
  4. Choose Insertion order details.
  5. Under Targeting, choose Add targeting > Keywords.
  6. Select Exclude.
  7. You can either:
    1. Enter one individual keywords to exclude per line separated by commas or
    2. Select a negative keyword list from the list.
  8. Choose Apply.
  9. Choose Save when done.

To target negative keywords or keyword lists at the line item level:

  1. From the advertiser level, go to Campaigns.
  2. Select a campaign.
  3. Select an insertion order.
  4. Select a line item.
  5. Under Targeting, choose Add targeting and then Keywords.
  6. Select Exclude.
  7. You can either:
    1. Enter one individual keywords to exclude per line separated by commas or
    2. Select a negative keyword list from the list.
  8. Choose Apply.
  9. Choose Save when done.

Limitations

  • Keyword targeting works on checking webpage content, app store description, and video metadata, but doesn’t work for in-app content.
  • Latency:
    • Line item latency: If you add additional keywords to an active line item, it may take one or more days before Display & Video 360 will be able to change your line item's bidding accordingly.
    • Keyword latency: If you target keywords for a new subject matter, such as keywords related to recent news, it may take Display & Video 360 one or more days before the keyword is targetable.
  • Advertisers can create up to 20 negative keyword lists.
  • Advertisers can target up to 1,000 negative keywords at the advertiser level.
  • Advertiser level negative keyword targeting is not inherited by digital out-of-home line items or the default line items for Programmatic Guaranteed deals. Keyword exclusions are not supported on in-feed ads (YouTube home feed, Discover feed, Search feed) or for Shorts ads.
  • Line items can target a combined maximum of 25,000 negative keywords:
    • Up to 5,000 individual excluded keywords
    • Up to 4 negative keyword lists (with a maximum 5,000 keywords per list)

Ad groups can target a maximum of individual excluded keywords

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