Use automatic targeting in Display

Automatic targeting is designed to help you achieve additional conversions at around the same cost per customer. This article tells you how to turn on and off automatic targeting, and how to evaluate its performance in your campaign.

There are two types of automatic targeting: conservative and aggressive. For an overview of these types, read About automatic targeting in Display.

Before you begin

Important bidding information:

If you have a Smart Display campaign, targeting and bidding are already automated.

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

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 or campaign.



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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 Settings in the page menu.
  5. Click Edit ad group targeting.
  6. Under “Automated targeting,” select one of three options:
    • No automated targeting: You’ll have to target your ads manually.
    • Conservative automation: Focuses targeting on contexts closely related to your ad group, and helps you stay under your current cost-per-customer. Can be used with remarketing.
    • Aggressive automation: Applies more variation to your targeting to reach more customers, and can be used with remarketing.


Conservative automation is the default targeting setting and is recommended at all times. Advertisers who want to increase their reach at their target ROI should choose 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.

“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 how ad groups are performing for different targeting settings, follow the steps in “Change automatic targeting settings” to see which targeting setting your ad group has.  Once your ad group is selected,  you can do any of the following:

  1. Click Overview in the page menu to get data on clicks and impressions. From the “Overview” page, click Status review to see any notifications on targeting.
  2. Click Placements in the page menu to see where your ads showed.
  3. Click Audiences or Demographics in the page menu to see what kinds of customers your ads are reaching.


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 navigation panel.
  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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