YouTube campaigns

Targeting for YouTube & partners line items

The types of targeting available for YouTube & partners line items are slightly different than Display & Video 360's standard set of targeting controls. Additionally, unlike other types of line items, targeting for YouTube & partners line items is set at three levels: the advertiser, line item level, and the ad group level. Targeting set at the insertion order level doesn't apply to YouTube & partners line items.

Advertiser-level targeting

There are several options at the advertiser level that you can use to help set a base level of brand suitable targeting. 

Targeting set at the advertiser level will apply to all current and future YouTube & partners line items contained within the advertiser.

The following options are available across line item types:

To target negative keywords at the advertiser level:

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

You can also exclude YouTube placements at the advertiser level:

  1. Navigate to your advertiser's Settings and then Targeting in the left menu.
  2. Find Channels & URLs and click Edit Edit
  3. Click on the YouTube URLs section.
  4. Enter up to 65,000 YouTube URLs and up to 15 YouTube TV channels to exclude. Accepted formats include:
    • YouTube channels: ""
    • YouTube videos: "" or ""
    • YouTube users: "" or ""
    • YouTube TV channels: “…” or YouTube TV channel IDs. 
  5. Select Exclude.
  6. Click Apply
Note: Advertiser-level placement exclusions apply to YouTube & partners line items contained within the advertiser, but are not visible in the line item details in Display & Video 360.

Line item-level targeting

Targeting set at the line item level will apply to all ad groups contained within the line item and can't be overwritten by ad group targeting. Usually people use line item targeting to apply general targeting to their YouTube ads.


Inventory sources

Based on the type of YouTube & partners line item you're using, you'll see pre-selected options from the following inventory sources:

  • YouTube: YouTube videos, channel pages, the YouTube homepage, YouTube videos embedded on other sites, and the search results page on YouTube. All targeting settings apply for YouTube search inventory, except for placements.
  • Video partners: A collection of partner sites and apps that follow the same brand safety standards as YouTube. Learn more about Google video partners
  • Google TV: A media-streaming platform used to stream TV shows, movies, and other video content from apps. In-stream ads on Google TV are only available for line items serving in the United States, and not all YouTube & partners line item subtypes support Google TV. Learn more about Google TV


You can choose to exclude individual keywords at the advertiser level or ad group level. At the insertion order or line item level you can exclude individual keywords or keyword lists. The same keyword matches described below are available for individual keyword exclusions. Learn more

Category exclusions

Category exclusion settings - content categories, digital content labels, and other content types - help you exclude types of content that, while in compliance with our policies, may not fit your brand or business. Regardless of the settings you select, your ads will be excluded from showing on content that isn’t appropriate for any advertiser. Learn more


Show your ads based on the languages a user speaks. This is determined based on the language preference a given user sets on the YouTube homepage, as well as various other signals such as the user’s browser language, location, and viewing history.



We strongly recommend using geography targeting with YouTube & partners line items to control the reach of your line item. Learn more

Learn more about reporting on geography targeting

Location dimensions in YouTube offline reports let you view your ad performance at the most specific level available for targeting. In other words, if you were targeting the United States, you could view location data down to the postal code, university, airport, or congressional district level. This gives you a more detailed view of the locations where your campaigns are performing well. Keep in mind that your location reports can only show data about location target types within the country you’re targeting. 

Metrics listed below country level may not add up to campaign totals. This is due to some impressions only being matched at the country level and not included in smaller geographic areas.

Day and time

Show your ads based on a specific day and time. Learn more



Show your ads based on specific operating systems, device models, and carriers. 

Ad group-level targeting

Targeting set at the ad group-level is used to target your YouTube ads more granularly.


Placement, keyword, and category contextual targeting are treated as a single contextual targeting dimension in YouTube & partners brand line items. Your ads will target any context you include, without restricting reach. For example, if you target “bikes” as a topic and “cycling” as a keyword, your ads will show on content that matches either.
To prevent narrowing eligible inventory, positive targeting of keywords, categories or placements is not available for YouTube video action campaigns. Exclusions are supported. 


Depending on your video ad format, you can show video ads based on words or phrases--keywords--related to a YouTube video, YouTube channel, or type of website that your audience is interested in. You can use the following keyword matches to control which searches will trigger your ad:

Option Description Symbol Example keyword Example search
Broad match (default) Ads may show on searches that contain misspellings, synonyms, related searches, and other relevant variations.  none women's hat buy ladies' hats
Phrase match Ads may show on searches that are a phrase, and close variations of that phrase.  "keyword" "women's hats" buy women's hats
Exact match Ads may show on searches that are an exact term and close variations of that exact term. [keyword] [women's hats] women's hats


Target your video ads to specific topics on YouTube and from video partners. Category targeting lets you reach a broad range of videos, channels, and websites related to the topics you select. For example, if you target the "Automotive" topic, your ad will show on YouTube to people watching videos about cars. Some content subcategories can't be excluded from targeting. 


From the placements targeting option you can choose from the following:

  • YouTube channels: Select this option to target individual YouTube channels by searching for the channel
  • YouTube videos: Select this option to target individual YouTube videos by searching for the video.
  • Video lineups: Select this option to target popular content and video lineups across YouTube and Google video partners. 
  • URLs: Select this option to target individual websites and webpages by searching for the URL.
  • Apps: Select this option to target individual apps for Android and iOS app stores. You can search for apps by name or app store ID. To search for apps by operating system, use the platform filter. 
  • Collections: Select this option to target dynamic groups of related apps. For example, a collection called “Top selling free weather apps” will always be up to date. There’s no need to track the top weather apps or manually add channels to target them. You can filter the list of collections by platform and search for specific collections. You can also click “Included apps” link for each collection to see the list of specific apps included in the collection.

You can either include  Green check or exclude any combination of placements.

To add placements in bulk, select the option to add multiple items at once. Enter a list of app IDs and URLs, one item per line. Make sure you use the following formats:

  • YouTube channels: ""
  • YouTube videos: "" or ""
  • YouTube users: "" or ""
  • Domains: ""
  • URLs: ""

Keep in mind that when you add YouTube placements, your ads may still run in eligible locations across video partners. Similarly, when adding video partner placements, your ads may still run in eligible locations on YouTube. If you'd like to target only one specific placement, make sure that your line item's inventory source targeting excludes all other content. For example, if you want to only target a specific YouTube placement, exclude video partner placements from the line item targeting.

If you exclude a placement at the advertiser level as described above, you cannot override that setting by including the placement at the ad group level.


If you target multiple audience lists in YouTube & partners line items, your ads will serve to users who appear on any of the lists.


Reach an audience by age, gender, household income, or parental status. Learn more

Audience lists

Includes the following options:

  • First party: Select from several types of audience lists, including:
    • YouTube audiences: Reach viewers that are important to your business with first-party audiences. You can target YouTube users who have interacted with your videos or YouTube channel, or upload Customer Match lists. Learn more
  • Google audiences: Select from several types of audience lists, including:
    • Affinity: Raise brand awareness and drive consideration with your YouTube video ads by reaching people who already have a strong interest in relevant topics or based on their shopping and lifestyle habits, such as where they shop or how often they go out to eat. Learn more
    • In-market: Select from these audiences to find customers who are researching products and actively considering buying a service or product like those you offer. Learn more
    • Life events: Reach audiences when purchase behavior shifts and brand preferences change during key life milestones like moving, graduating from college, or getting married.
    • Detailed demographics: Reach users based on additional broad, shared traits, such as college students, homeowners, or new parents.
  • Combined audiences: Create custom combination audiences using your first-party and Google audiences. First-party YouTube audiences are not eligible to be included in a combination audience.
  • Google custom audiences: Use Custom Affinity segments to target an audience by the media they consume online or by the products and services they're interested in. Use Custom Intent to define and reach a specific audience as they are making a purchase decision related to your product or service. Learn more
  • Audience expansion: Audience expansion leverages Google’s machine learning technology to help scale and simplify how you optimize your YouTube Brand campaigns to find more people who are likely interested in your brand, product, or service. Learn more
  • Optimized targeting: For YouTube video action campaigns optimized targeting uses real-time campaign data to help you find new and relevant people who are more likely to convert within your campaign goals. You can use optimized targeting to expand to audiences who you may otherwise miss with only manual targeting.  Learn more

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