About contextual targeting

Contextual targeting is one of a few different methods that you can use to get your display ads on sites, apps and web pages that are part of the Display Network. This method of targeting uses the keywords or topics that you’ve chosen in order to match your ads to relevant sites. Note: This only applies to keywords with “Content” selected for the keyword setting.

1. You choose keywords and topics

Contextual targeting starts with you adding content keywords or topics to ad groups in your Display Network campaigns. Keywords are individual words, whereas a topic is a web page’s concepts or central theme, rather than its individual terms.

2. Our system analyses web pages that make up the Display Network

Our system analyses the content of each Display Network web page or URL, considering factors such as the following:

  • Text
  • Language
  • Link structure
  • Page structure

Based on this analysis, the central theme of each web page is determined.

3. Your ad gets placed

By content keywords

When your keyword (using the “Content” keyword setting) matches a web page’s concepts or its central theme, your ad is eligible to appear on that web page (also known as an automatic placement). Whether your ad actually appears there is determined by a number of factors, including your language and location targeting.



Suppose that you've created an ad group to advertise your car dealership’s latest lineup and you've included keywords like fuel efficient cars and 2015 electric cars. We use contextual targeting to identify and place your ad on Display Network pages that match those keywords.

By topic

When your topic matches a web page’s central theme, your ad is eligible to show on that web page. Whether your ad actually shows there is determined by a number of factors, such as your language and location targeting.


Let's imagine again that you want to show ads about electric cars that are for sale. You could add the sub-topic Cars & Vehicles > Vehicle Shopping > Vehicle Specs, Reviews & Comparisons to your ad group. This would help you target all the pages on the Display Network related to car reviews and comparisons, regardless of whether your exact keywords appear on the page.

Next steps


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