Use automatic targeting in Google Display ads


Automatic targeting expands your reach to additional users to help you generate more conversions at or around the same cost per customer with Google Display ads. This article tells you how to change your targeting expansion setting and how to evaluate its performance in your campaign.

For an overview of automatic targeting in Google Display ads and how it works, read About automatic targeting in Google Display ads.

Before you begin

Important bidding information:

Automatic targeting results in new placements, so it's suitable for advertisers who don't have strict brand guidelines about where their ads appear. Keep in mind that you can still exclude placements from your ad group, campaign, or account.

Note: If you have a Smart Display campaign, targeting and bidding are already automated, so there is no need to use targeting expansion setting manually.

If you’re a conversion-focused advertiser but you are not using a Smart Display campaign, consider using a bidding strategy such as Target cost per action (CPA) or Target return on ad spend (ROAS) with automatic targeting. Using Target CPA or Target ROAS is recommended for automatic targeting because it allows our system to best use conversion data to get you the most value for your campaign.

If you’re focused more on generating site traffic, consider using a manual bidding strategy such as Manual cost per click (CPC) or Enhanced CPC with automatic targeting. Using Manual CPC allows automatic targeting to expand your reach to additional users to help generate more site traffic at or around the same cost per customer.


Change automatic targeting settings

  1. Click Display campaigns in the navigation panel.
  2. Find your campaign and click on it.
  3. Click on the ad group you’d like to adjust targeting for.
  4. Click Audiences in the navigation menu.
  5. Click the pencil icon Editand select Edit ad group targeting.
  6. Drag the slider to the right to increase audience expansion.
  7. Click Save.

The default setting offers limited expansion to additional audiences (previously the "conservative automation" setting). To increase your reach at the same target ROI, you should choose the highest level of automation (previously “aggressive automation”).

Review performance

When reviewing your performance, keep in mind that automatic targeting extends your reach to people who otherwise wouldn’t have seen your ads. The conversions you get through automatic targeting are additional conversions that you wouldn't otherwise have gotten.

When you maximize your automatic targeting, your initial average cost per action (CPA) may fluctuate. Over time, automatic targeting will learn which targeting works best for you and optimize your reach at a more consistent average CPA to drive the most possible conversions.

To review how your ads are performing on automatic targeting, you can:

  • Click Display campaigns in the left-hand navigation menu.
  • Optional: click into the campaign or ad group for which you’d like to review performance.
  • Scroll to the bottom of the stats table and note the summary rows at the bottom. The row labeled "Display automatic targeting" contains all traffic from automatic targeting.

Compare performance: If you have different ad groups using different kinds of targeting, you may want to see how they each perform. To do so:

  1. Select Display campaigns in the left-hand navigation menu.
  2. Select Ad groups in the page menu. 
You can see data on clicks, impressions, and conversions by ad group.

Targeting vs. observations: If you edited your ad group to use “Observations,” you may see reports on how additional targeting may benefit your ad group. Learn more about targeting and observation settings
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