Optimize Display campaigns on the Google Display Network

Reach the right audience at the right moment

Your next step is to reach the right audiences across the various touch points of the customer journey. Programmatic can help automate your audience targeting.

Re-engage past site visitors with remarketing.

Remarketing keeps your ads in front of people who have previously visited your site or app. On average, consumers visit mobile websites 6 times in the purchase process. You’ll want to re-engage them when they’re most likely to buy.Consider these sources to create your audience lists for display remarketing:

  • Desktop and mobile website visitors: This is the most common source for building your remarketing lists. Top lists to focus on include all site visitors, category page viewers, cart abandoners, product page viewers and past converters.
  • Mobile app users: There are two main use cases for mobile app remarketing: driving conversions or app re-engagement. To drive conversions, your remarketing lists should include product viewers or cart abandoners. To drive app re-engagement, your remarketing lists should focus on lapsed or inactive users. See the available lists for mobile app engagement.
  • YouTube video viewers: Once you link your Google Ads account and YouTube channel, create video remarketing lists based off of your YouTube viewers and specific actions they’ve taken with your channel.

If you’re a business with a large portfolio of products (for example, retail or travel), you’ll want to start off with dynamic remarketing. This will show potential customers the most tailored ad possible based on your existing inventory, eliminating the need to build thousands of ads.

For more advanced GDN remarketing tips, check out our guide on how to reach customers with remarketing.


Use Google Ads Editor to apply audience lists in bulk to your ad groups.

Did you know...

When dynamic remarketing is paired together with Target ROAS bidding, advertisers see up to a 40% improvement in return on ad spend.6

Enhance your remarketing with similar audiences.

Extend the reach of your remarketing campaigns with Google’s lookalike targeting. Similar audiences finds new people who share interests with those on your current remarketing lists. This can grow your remarketing conversions by up to 38% compared to using remarketing alone.7


  • Consider creating similar audiences based on past purchasers or best-selling products and services.
  • Set up a separate campaign for similar audiences. It’ll allow you to better manage your bids, ads and targeting.

Find additional customers with keyword targeting and in-market audiences.

If you want to show new customers contextually relevant ads based on the content they currently or recently viewed, use Display keyword targeting. If you’re already running search campaigns, you can use some of your Search Network best practices in your Google Display Network campaigns:

  • Use top performing keywords from your Search campaigns
  • Use your website taxonomy to guide campaign structure
  • Add keywords based on broad concepts and structure them in tightly themed ad groups

When you’re building out keywords, don’t waste time with variations or long-tail terms. All keywords are broad-matched on the Display Network, so these variations won’t lead to additional reach.

Note: If your ads show up on placements that seem unrelated to your Display keywords, it’s possible they are being shown to someone based on their recent browsing history or other factors.

If you want to reach new and highly-qualified consumers who are actively researching products or services in your category, use in-market audiences. Make sure you target the audience that’s most relevant to your business; there are almost 500 categories to choose from. For example, you can find potential customers who are in-market for handbags or jewelry within the retail category.

Last but not least, new customers typically command higher CPAs versus existing customers. Keep this in mind as you set your target bids.


Avoid stacking multiple targeting methods for audience lists. Your ads won’t serve if you set too many restrictions.

Automate your targeting with display targeting optimization

Display targeting optimization works best when layered with Target CPA or ROAS. You have two options: conservative targeting and aggressive targeting.

  • Use “Conservative Targeting” when you want to drive additional conversions based on your business goals or Target CPA. This setting is on by default.
  • Use “Aggressive Targeting” when you want to drive even more conversions, but you have some flexibility with your business goals or Target CPA. You need at least 15 conversions per month to enable this option. Aggressive targeting works best when the ad group has a significant and consistent volume of conversions. This gives the algorithm a larger data set to learn from for future auctions.


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5 Source: Google/Nielsen Study: Mobile Path to Purchase: Five Key Findings, November 2013.
6 Source: Google internal data, 2013.
7 Source: Calculated median from internal Google data, March 2015.

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