Google Optimize will no longer be available after September 30, 2023. Your experiments and personalizations can continue to run until that date. Learn more

Targeting overview

Get started with targeting and targeting rules.
This article contains some features only available in Google Optimize 360, part of Google Marketing Platform. Learn more.

Optimize targeting allows you to choose who is eligible to be in your experiment, and when they’re served experiment variants.

In this article:

Targeting examples

Here are a few examples of Optimize targeting:

  • Only show experiment variants to visitors in a specific city or county (Geo targeting)
  • Only show experiment variants to visitors referred from a specific web site (Behavior targeting)
  • Only render experiment variants on mobile or on certain browsers (Technology targeting)
  • Target users interested in a specific product category or who have purchased a certain product (Audience targeting)

Traffic allocation

Optimize includes two controls for targeting: Who and When.


Who determines whether a user is eligible to be included in an experiment. If a user is included in the percent subset that you’ve indicated in the slider, they will be served an experiment variant whenever the experiment is applicable (see When, below). They will remain in the experiment until it concludes.


When determines when it is appropriate to serve an eligible user (see Who, above) with an experiment variant. Use the condition builder to create When conditions. Note that a When condition does not affect eligibility, only the circumstances in which an experiment is applicable. Once included in an experiment, a user stays in the experiment until it concludes.


Create rules with the condition builder

Rules are the building blocks of Optimize targeting. The experiment will execute when targeting rules are met. You can target pages on your site, geographic regions, and specific user behavior. You can also combine multiple rules. For example, you might target loyal users coming to your home page, offer a discount to loyal users on a product page, or invite loyal users visiting from San Francisco to a special event. Or, you might target a change to a set of product pages, using one product per page as the Editor page then building targeting rules that match all product pages for your desired audience. 

To create a targeting rule, click + CREATE RULE on the Targeting tab of the Experiment detail page.

Optimize Targeting

  • numbered-callout-1-lg-44 Select a Variable.
  • numbered-callout-2-lg-44 Select a Match type.
  • numbered-callout-3-lg-44 Enter a Value(s).
  • numbered-callout-4-lg-44 Click ADD.
Create a URL targeting rule in Optimize.

You can combine multiple rule types to create very specific rules. Click ADD, then add more rules on the Targeting tab.

Rule types

Optimize includes the following targeting rule types, which are described in more detail in the following articles:

Google Analytics audiences  Target Audiences created in Google Analytics. Learn more.
Google Ads Target Google Ads accounts, campaigns, ad groups, and keywords. Learn more.
Device category Target visitors on mobile, tablet, or desktop devices. Learn more.
Behavior Target new vs. returning visitors or those coming from specific referrers. Learn more.
Geography Target visitors from a specific city, metro, region or county. Learn more.
Technology Target visitors using a specific device, browser or OS. Learn more.
URL targeting Target the specific URLs where your experiments run. Learn more.
icon JavaScript variable Target a JavaScript variable in the source code of the webpage. Learn more.
icon First-party cookie Target users that have a first-party cookie from your website. Learn more.
icon Custom JavaScript Target pages based upon a value returned by custom JavaScript. Learn more.
icon Query Parameter Target specific pages and sets of pages. Learn more.
icon Data Layer variable Target based on key values stored in the data layer. Learn more.

Quick Tips: Overview of Optimize Targeting

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