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 CPA (cost-per-acquisition) or Target ROAS (return on ad spend) 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.


The new Google Ads experience is now the exclusive way for most users to manage their accounts. Note, automatic targeting is only available in the new Google Ads experience.

Change automatic targeting settings

Follow these steps to choose your automatic targeting under the "Targeting optimization" option in your ad groups:

  1. Click the Display Network tab.
  2. Select your ad group, and click the + Targeting button.
  3. In the "Targeting optimization" section below the different targeting methods, select the checkbox with your preferred level of automatic targeting.
  4. Click Save.

You can change your selection to another available option, or opt out of targeting optimization, at any time.

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.

“Aggressive” targeting may vary from your target CPA initially, as it explores the Display Network to find additional customers for you. As your ads run, automatic targeting learns which targeting works best for you, and optimizes to boost your results. As a result—at the ad group level, and over time—your actual CPA typically gets closer and closer to your target CPA.

To review the performance of automatic targeting, you'll need to segment your report by "Targeting mode." Here's how:

  1. Click the Display Network tab from within the campaign for which you'd like to see statistics.
  2. Click the Placements tab.
  3. Click the "Segment" drop-down menu and select "Targeting mode."
  4. In the reporting table, look for placements categorized as "Auto-targeted."

To see statistics generated through your automatic targeting offline, you can download your automatic placements and sort by "Targeting mode."

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