How placements and keywords work together

This article applies to previous AdWords and Google Ads experiences. Determine which AdWords experience you're using.

To provide a comprehensive and consolidated view of your content targeting and make content targeting management and optimization simpler, you’ll see the following improvements in Google Ads:

All types of content targeting can now be found under “Content” in the side navigation:

  • "Topics", "Placements", "Display/Video keywords", and "Exclusions" for all types of content targeting are now categorized under the "Content" tab in the side navigation menu. For "Exclusions", click the drop-down arrow to the right of the term "Exclusions" to select exclusions for topics, placements or Display/Video keywords.

Soon, you’ll see further improvements:

  • "Topics", "Placements", "Display/Video keywords" will be consolidated into a single "Content" page and report. Exclusions will also be consolidated into a single report in the same page ("Content").
  • Your ads will target any of your selected content in your ad group. For example, if you targeted “bikes” as a topic and “cycling” as a Display/Video keyword, your ads will show on content that matches either.

Until your account is migrated, we recommend that you only use one content targeting method (topics, placements, OR Display/Video keywords) per ad group. Before the upcoming changes, combining methods can limit campaign performance.

Placements and keywords can work together to determine where your ads will appear on the Display Network and how much you'll pay for them. You can choose to show your ads based only on your keyword list while using placements to adjust your bidding. You can also use a combination of placements and keywords to refine where your ads are eligible to show. Using both together helps you narrow the audience for your ads and set the right price for clicks from those potential customers.

Using placement targeting

  • Placements help you determine the exact URLs where your ads can appear.
  • To choose specific places for your ad to appear, try using placement targeting for your campaign or ad group.
  • Managed placements can help you promote your brand by having your ads appear on a certain website or a certain group of sites on the Display Network.

Using keyword targeting

  • Keyword lists determine the pages where your ad can be shown, specifically the subject or content of the page.
  • To help your ads appear next to lots of relevant content, try using keywords for your campaigns or ad groups.
  • For example, if you wanted your ad to appear near content that refers to tennis, you could try starting with keywords related to tennis.
    • Note: This only applies to keywords in Display campaigns with “Content” selected for the keyword setting.

What happens when you target both keywords and placements

In the example diagrams below, the blue area represents the potential reach of keyword targeting, and the pink area shows the reach of placement targeting. The shaded areas are the reach defined by either the "Target and bid" setting, or the "Bid only" setting.

Placements -- Target and bid setting

Targeting keywords and placements together

When you add placements and keywords to an ad group to target your ads, your ads will only show on the page you specify when the content is relevant to your keywords. Google Ads uses contextual targeting to find pages in the Display Network with content that matches your keywords. If the placement you choose has multiple webpages, only the pages that match your keywords can show your ads. This placements setting is called "Target and bid", and greatly restricts where your ads can show.

Using keywords with placements narrows the targeting of your ads, and can limit the reach of your ad group. This option may be useful if you're targeting placements that have a wide variety of content, such as news sites and social networks. That way, your ads will be more likely to appear in relevant locations on those sites. However in many cases, layering multiple targeting methods can overly restrict the reach of your ad group. Make sure to monitor your ad's performance to check that you're getting the results you want.


Suppose that for your campaign you create an ad group with managed placements A, B, and C, and the keyword red roses. When you add your placements, you set them to "Target and bid" and click Save.

Your ad will appear on placements A, B, and C only if their content is related to red roses. So, if Google Ads determines that matches for red roses appear only on A and B, your ad won't appear on placement C, even though you've selected it. Because placement C doesn't have any content about red roses, it's not a contextual match for your keyword, and your ad won't show.

Now, suppose placement A is a website about flowers, with 100 different pages: 5 about red roses and 95 about other flower varieties. Because contextual targeting works down to the page level, Google Ads might identify only those 5 pages about red roses as a good match for your keyword. Your ad won't appear on the other 95 pages of website A if those pages aren't a match to your keywords, even though you've added the entire website in your placement targeting.

Learn more about targeting settings on the Display Network.

Placements -- "Bid only" setting

Targeting keywords with additional bidding on placements

To show your ads on any variety of sites that match your keywords and only bid higher when your placements and keyword targeting overlap, you can choose "Bid only" before saving your placement targeting. Unlike the option above, choosing "Bid only" allows your ad to show on all placements that match your keyword targeting, but you set a certain bid for a specific placement.


Suppose you're an apartment rental company, and you want to show your ads on a range of websites, specifically on pages about renting apartments in New York. Start by adding keywords that are related to renting New York apartments to help your ad appear on any pages including those keywords. You also know that people who visit specific websites, for example websites A and B, are more likely to use your apartment rental services.

To concentrate your ads on those sites, add them to your placements targeting, choose "Bid only", and set higher bids for those specific placements. By choosing "Bid only", your ad can show on a variety of different websites that include your keywords, but you can set a higher CPC bid to prioritize showing ads on specific websites that also include your keywords.

Did you know...

Placement-targeted ads and keyword-targeted ads compete to appear on pages on the Display Network based on their Ad Rank. Ad Rank for placement-targeted or keyword-targeted ads, and all other ads targeted to the Display Network, is determined depending on whether the campaign uses cost-per-click (CPC) or cost-per-thousand viewable impressions (vCPM) bidding.

Monitoring your performance data

You can review your performance data, including impressions, for your placement-targeted and keyword-targeted ads.

Impressions for placements you've targeted

When your ad appears on a placement you've chosen, the impression will be reported both as a placement impression and a keyword impression.

You can review your data for placements and keywords by selecting the "Display Network" tab. Keep in mind that you can review your performance data for campaigns that target the Search and Display Networks or the Display Network only.


Suppose your ad group has 3 keywords (roses, tulips, and sunflowers) and you have chosen as a placement. If Google Ads shows your ad 3 times on based on both keyword and placement matching, it'll be reported both as a keyword impression and a placement impression. You'll find the 3 impressions from in your Placements tab, and you'll find the 3 impressions based on keyword targeting in your Keywords tab. For instance, if your ads showed on once because of your keyword roses, twice because of your keyword tulips, and 0 times for sunflowers, you'll find the impressions counted next to each keyword.

Here's how to find your statistics:

  • To find your managed placement impressions, click the "Placements" tab and look for placements with the status "Managed." You'll find your performance data, including impressions.
  • To find your keyword impressions, click the "Display Keywords" tab. You'll find a table with your performance data, including impressions.
Impressions for placements you haven't targeted

When keywords in your ad group trigger your ad to show on a placement that you didn't target, then the impression will be reported both as a keyword impression and placement impression.

You can find your data for placements and keywords by selecting the "Display Network" tab. Keep in mind that you can find your performance data for campaigns that target search and the Display Network, the Search and Display Networks, or the Display Network only.

Here's how to find your statistics:

  • To find your automatic placement impressions, click the "Placements" tab and look for placements with the status "Automatic." You'll find your performance data, including impressions.
  • To find your keyword impressions, click the "Display Keywords" tab. You'll find a table with your performance data, including impressions.
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