Ultimate Guide to Display Ads Targeting options

Google Display Ads Targeting

What are the Targeting options in Display Ads Network?

It was a mind numbing question for the most of the budding advertisers. Many targeting options are available in display ads to find your potential customers.

Google display Ads targeting

What is google display network?

Google display ads network is a collection of independent content publishers websites and apps. Google helps the advertisers by grouping these sites/apps into relevant category. The cost is relatively lower than compared to google search so was the intent and conversion rate.

But it not impossible to find high intent users in google display network or there’s just no high intent users here. It’s just little difficult to pinpoint the high intent users. The search makes incredible easy with keyword targeting but the display doesn’t have such easy way.

Display campaign offers variety of targeting options for advertisers. You can target based on keywords, websites, specific topics ( of websites) , People ( audience) , demographics.

These tools will help advertisers to reach audience in scale. The trick is often finding out which targeting option would yield better results. Here i help you understand how each targeting works, advantages and disadvantages of each one. How you can each options to get desired results you want.

However with right strategy it is possible to get the same quality users as search. Let’s see how we can achieve the same in this chapter.

Display ads Network targeting options  #1 Keywords


Keywords have been an integral part of targeting in google platform. Same trends continues with display network. Unlike in the search , this keywords won’t be user searched rather contextually matched with a web page.

How this differs from search “keywords”

In google search keywords refers to two things

  • Keywords ( advertiser perceived and using in ad groups)
  • Keywords ( search queries actually user typed in the google.com)

In google display ads,

Keyword refers to the contextual match of the web page. Here keyword isn’t related to the user queries or users. In display keywords refers to the page that matched with a keyword by google algorithm.

Google scans the page of the website. Whatever it understands about the page will be summarized by keywords.

How keyword targeting in google display works?

When you want to target using keywords in google display, you will be using keywords based on your products/services.

For example, if you’re a German language expert, you might use keywords like :

  • German coaching
  • How to learn German
  • Learn German online
  • Tips to learn German
  • Best online courses in German

Google algorithm will show your ad creative in the pages that are contextually related to those courses. Page will be contextually related. The degree of the relevancy is very hard to measure.

Advantages :

This options let’s you to show ads to massive numbers of users at scale in small time
Keywords are still straight forward targeting compared to other targeting options ( saving time in campaign creation )


Though this offers scale, degree of relevancy for this targeting options is difficult to find out
Sometimes, if only that pages relates to those keywords with contextual matches,chances of showing ads to less intent users is high.

How keyword targeting in display differs from search?

Also, keywords in the display campaigns doesn’t have any matches types since it was contextually match – which is very abstract.  Display campaign also have negative keywords with same purpose as search. You can use negative keywords in the exclude section of the display campaigns.

One problem with the display keywords is the contextual keyword match of the pages. Sometimes this could show ads in the pages which are slightly less relevant.

You can also get more information on keywords from the display planner tool.

Display Ads Network targeting options #2 Topics

google display ads - topics
google display ads – topics

Topics targeting options is created based on the website as a whole. It doesn’t takes the user parameters such as ( interest, age ) into consideration. Whomever visiting the website of the particular topic will be targeted.

Placements targeting is using the website URL in the targeting. In this targeting advertisers will specify domains. Then based on the quality of the ad creative and cpc, advertisers will be awarded impressions in the auctions.

Topics targeting address the problem with the display keywords. This is help advertisers to get the sites which has largely similar content not just a page. For example,

In keyword targeting, Keyword = organic foods,

Your ads will be shown in the pages that contextually matches with the keyword “organic foods” this could be news site which has variety of pages and one of the page contextually matches with keyword.

In Topics targeting, Topics = Foods,

Your ads will be shown in the websites that has all pages about foods. Sometimes it’s good idea to use both targeting options.  And yes, google provides you so many topics of sites. Which is really cool.

This is one of the effective targeting options, if you exactly know which sites has relevant audience for your business/products.


  • Relevancy in the targeting is fairly high
  • Able to identify which targeting yields results


If finite no of sites are available and many advertisers to show ads there, then cost to advertise on the site will go up due to competition.

Display Ads Network targeting options #3 Audience Targeting

google display ads - audience

Audience targeting is created around the users. You can use this targeting option based on the interest of the users irrespective of the website they visit.

It has two types

  • In-market audience
  • Affinity Audience

To explain this, let’s take real life scenario,

Let’s say i’m a blogger and i passionately care about technology and right now i’m looking to buy a Honda car. And if you wonder about the which types of audience i fall into the google audience.

In- market audience : used car buyer

Affinity audience : Technology

In- Market Audience:

In market audience contains many categories which is the particular user is interested in temporarily. The user is actively searching for something until he get what he wants and after that he won’t be interested in that. This audience has high intent than the affinity audience.

Affinity Audience:

Affinity audience contains many categories in which user is passionate about those things for longer period of time.

Display Network targeting options  #4 Demographics

Demographics targeting -google display

If you want to advertise a product or service which can be used by a particular age group or gender irrespective of what they passionate about. For instance, the product/service could be mostly a utility such as plumber, medicines, groceries.

If you’re selling baby diaper, women with age group of 20-40 will be an ideal target irrespective of other targeting parameters. You can use demographics targeting to achieve this scale of targeting.

Display Ads Network targeting options #5 Re targeting

where you go i follow you- re-targeting

One of the mostly used targeting option in the google display network is the re-targeting. This targeting is very effective in terms of conversions and conversion rate.

While re targeting, you target users who visited your website earlier. This can be done by creating a re-targeting list and then selecting the re-targeting list in the display campaign.

To create a re-targeting list, go to shared library → audience and click on + re-targeting button.

Exclusion in Display Network

In google search ads network, irrelevant traffic can be excluded by using the negative keywords. Similar to that display network provides you the exclusions. You can almost use all the targeting options in the exclusion which works exactly opposite way.

Exclusions can be found at the bottom of the targeting menu.

By yathav

I'm very passionate about technology, marketing & analytics. Using WordPress and working on blogging & search engine optimization for almost 8+ years, I'd like to share my thoughts, hacks and best practices about what i do professionally & what I experience.

Leave a comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *