About optimized targeting

Access the right Google audiences with optimized targeting


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Depending on your campaign’s goal, optimized targeting can help you reach new and relevant audiences that are likely to convert. Optimized targeting looks beyond manually-selected audience segments in your campaign to find audience segments that you may have missed to improve the campaign’s performance.

In this article, you'll learn about the benefits and features of optimized targeting.

When to use optimized targeting

Optimized targeting works best for advertisers in any of the following situations:

  • You want your campaign to serve to audience segments most likely to convert.
  • You want to acquire new customers beyond your existing segments and still meet your goals.
  • You want to identify new people who perform well for your campaign.
  • You want to increase conversions without increasing bids or the cost per customer.

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How it works

Optimized targeting is automatically turned on for all campaigns. Optimized targeting looks at information like keywords on your landing page or in your creative assets, then finds audiences that can meet your campaign's goals. If you don't want to use optimized targeting, you can turn it off in your ad group settings.

You can also add criteria like audience segments or keywords (also known as “targeting signals”) to optimized targeting. Optimized targeting uses targeting signals to find similar criteria to serve your ads on. If optimized targeting finds better performing traffic, it may reduce or stop serving traffic on your signals.

What’s the difference between audience expansion and optimized targeting?

Audience expansion looks for more people similar to your existing audience segment so you may find an increase in impressions, views, clicks, and conversions through your campaigns. Optimized targeting looks for additional conversions by targeting people most likely to convert, based on real-time campaign conversion data, like what people who convert recently searched for. With optimized targeting, your manually-selected audience segments influence the model by providing an informed starting point.

For example, Jiaying wants to attract people to the upcoming launch of a new running shoe. In the campaign’s targeting, Jiaying uses 2 audience types: a custom segment based on top performing keywords from her Search campaigns, for example, “running shoe sale”, and the “Athletic Footwear” in-market segment. Here’s how audience expansion and optimized targeting may handle Jiaying’s campaign:

  • Audience expansion: In addition to Jiaying’s manually-selected audience segments, audience expansion includes similar segments like the “trainers sale” custom segment and the “Sporting Goods” in-market segment.
  • Optimized targeting: Optimized targeting expands to users that are likely to convert by creating a profile of what a converter looks like based on real-time conversion data. For example, that data could include Google searches for specific running shoe brands or clicks to a popular sportswear website. While Jiaying’s manually-selected audience segments provide a starting point, optimized targeting looks for conversions outside of her selected segments.

Audience insights

Audience insights help you better understand who your customers are by surfacing the unique characteristics, interests, and behaviors of user groups who view your ads then convert.

When you use optimized targeting, audience insights highlight the top Google audience segments that have been targeted and are performing well.

Note: Audience insights are currently available for the following campaign types:
  • Persona audience insights: Search, Shopping, Performance Max, Video Action campaigns (VAC), Display (beta)
  • Asset audience insights: Search, Performance Max, Video


How you use--or don’t use--optimized targeting depends on what you’re trying to achieve in your campaign. Expand a section below to learn when to use optimized targeting in the campaign.

You want to acquire new, relevant customers while meeting your goals

Use optimized targeting

If you're focused on finding new and relevant customers, use optimized targeting.

Klaus runs a company that sells computer parts for gaming PCs. Klaus’ business is already popular with repeat buyers, and he’s looking to expand his company by offering pre-built gaming PCs. Since Klaus wants to attract new clients to his business who may not have built their own custom gaming PC before, he sticks with using only optimized targeting.

Since optimized targeting is relying on information from sources like the landing page URL and the creative assets included in the ad, Klaus’ ads will reach people who are interested in buying a gaming PC.

You want to acquire new, relevant customers, and you have specific audience segments in mind

Use optimized targeting with targeting signals

If you want to inform the model that optimized targeting uses to find new and relevant audiences, you can add targeting signals.

Monique wants to spread awareness and sell bookings for a new 7-day camping excursion from her river rafting tour company. Since summer is quickly approaching and kids will be out of school, Monique wants to sell bookings to families primarily. When creating her Display campaign, Monique adds keywords like “outdoor families”, “river rafting families”, and “traveling families'' (in addition to keeping optimized targeting turned on).

When running the campaign, optimized targeting finds that Monique receives better performance when the keywords “river rafting adventures”, “white water rafting”, and “river rafting tour” are added to her targeting. Additionally, optimized targeting stops the Display campaign from serving on “traveling families” due to its lack of performance.

You want previous customers to purchase your products or use your services again

Use manual targeting only

If you only want to attract your previous customers with your ads, use manual targeting.

Taylor’s agency is launching a new Video campaign for a premier fashion label’s line of purses. Since Taylor has previously used a data segment that contains the fashion label’s customers, she reuses it for the campaign. She also turns off optimized targeting for the campaign, so that the campaign is specifically focused on marketing to the fashion label’s usual customers.

Compatible campaign types

Optimized targeting is available for:

  • Display campaigns
  • Video campaigns that use the “Sales”, “Leads”, or “Website traffic” goals (for example, Video action campaigns)
  • Demand Gen campaigns

Keep in mind that the targeting signals available may be different depending on your campaign type. Expand a section below to read which targeting signals can be added to optimized targeting based on the campaign type.


  • You can provide audience segments, custom segments, customer data segments, keywords, and topics as signals for optimized targeting.
  • Your ads may show to users beyond your selected signals.


  • You can provide audience segments, custom segments, and customer data segments as signals for optimized targeting.
  • Your ads may show to users beyond your selected signals.
  • Placements will not be used as a signal and your ads will only show on the placements that you provide.
  • Optimized targeting will not show ads to users that you've excluded using your customer data segments.

Demand Gen

  • You can provide audience segments, custom segments, and customer data segments as signals for optimized targeting.
  • Your ads may show to users beyond your selected signals.
  • Optimized targeting will not show ads to users that you've excluded using your customer data segments.
  • When optimized targeting is enabled, demographic expansion will also take effect. This means that optimized targeting may target beyond your selected demographic signals, like age, gender, household income, and parental status, to help drive enhanced campaign performance.
Optimized targeting traffic, along with select traffic experiments run by Google, shows up in the “Total: Expansion and optimized targeting” row in your performance reporting.

Brand safety

Optimized targeting respects your existing brand safety settings (such as content exclusions). You don’t need to make additional changes to your brand safety settings when using optimized targeting.

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