Definite Guide to Google Display Ads – Targeting

google display ads targeting

Ultimate guide to setting up Targeting in Display Ads

Display ads targeting is extremely diverse. You have multiple ad formats to choose from and countless ways to reach new users. The worlds most effective ad channel for high intent is google search. This is due to the inherent nature of the search engines. The relevant ads will be shown to users only when they actually type in the query. It’s very easy to find high intent users by following best practices in search.

Google display ads targeting is far from google search ads targeting in terms of high intent users. Let’s see some unconventional targeting options to target high intent users in google display.

Layered targeting in Display Ads

google display layered targeting

One of the best ways to laser target users is to use layered targeting. Layered targeting combines two types of targeting options. In this method, you should keep the basic yet obvious targeting options as base. Targeting options that reflects the intent which helps your service/product should be layered.

For example, if your selling a  self help finance books, you need an audience who likes to read finance book. But unfortunately those aren’t in large numbers and google doesn’t have predefined targeting for this.

Here’s how the layered targeting looks like

Base targeting  : Avid book readers ( book lovers)


Intent targeting : Those who has interest in finance

With Base targeting, your targeting large no of audience who are readers but not necessarily finance book readers.

To fix that your targeting audience who has interest in finance and overlap with the obvious targeting.

Why layered targeting?

Two reasons:

  • Audience reach will be too broad if you just use one targeting option
  • If your campaign objective is conversion, the quality of conversion will be low
Types of layered targeting

Since layered targeting is a combination of targeting it can vary for various business. Also, layered targeting is not limited to layering two targeting options. If the audience are broad enough you can do as many as you like. One disadvantage of these multiple layered targeting is that sometimes your audience will be too low.

In those cases consider removing one of the top level targeting to fix the issue.

Topics + Keywords

This layered targeting will be helpful in drilling down the relevant websites with relevant web pages. This could be crucial for finding relevant web properties at scale.

For instance, if your selling an  “dog foods ”

Ideal targeting websites : A website which is about dog care and a web section where it also recommends dog foods to try out.  

The tricky thing to identify is the pages which talks about dogs & dog foods. This is can be achieved with layered targeting.

Base targeting :

Topics → Pets→ dogs

In this targeting, we are actually targeting website that are related to dogs.

Intent targeting :

Keywords :

Buy dog food , dog food online, how to buy dog food, best dog food.

By layering the two targeting options, you can able to display your ad in the specific page that talks about dog food.

Interest + Keywords

In interest targeting you can target in two ways. You can target broad audience. You can re-target your existing users by list. In either of two ways, the targeting is about actual people. In the topic targeting it is about the website.

How this can be useful?

List + Keywords

Image if a user already visited your website and now researching in about the product on google display network.

In re targeting you targeting user whichever site he/she visits irrespective of site relevancy to your products.  You can increase the relevancy by using a layered targeting. You have to added a keyword targeting as a layer. The keywords should be related to buying of your services.

Audience + Layer

Audience is basically classified into two types: Affinity and in-market audience.

Since the audience targeting is based on the users, you can’t be sure that your ads show to users on right websites.

For example, let’s say your selling “ finance book for investors ‘

You can choose the targeting options as

Interest → Affinity Audience → Banking & Finance → Avid Investors.

Now your ads will be targeting the avid investors. Interesting problem here is investors don’t visit sites related only to investments. They could also visit movie review sites, entertainment sites, fitness sites , etc. If you show them finance book ad on the entertainment, even though they like it, they don’t engage with the ad on the entertainment site.

Because right now, they seek entertainment that’s why they visit the entertainment site in the first place.

You can fix this by layering the existing targeting with keywords that are related to finance book purchase or recommendation. Post this, your ad will only visible to people who are investors and when they visit page related to finance or books.

Interest + Placements

This layered targeting is very similar to interest + keywords. Only change is, instead of layering audience with a specific pages, this layers with specific websites.

With keyword you can target specific pages which contextually matches given keywords. With placements you can explicitly give a domain name to target.

How this can be used ?

Let’s say you’re running a campaign a B2B sales, targeting CEO’s. If you know is where any CEO spends good amount of time, then you can layer your interest with to deliver a personalized message.

Any Targeting + Demographics

If the product/service you promoting is specific to gender, age and marital status you can layer with demographics. Adding demographics are proven to improve the lead quality, reduce the cost. This is a must try if you’re looking to try out a basic level of layering.

And more importantly this can be layered with any targeting!.

Target & Bid

Google offers two options.

  • Target and bid
  • Bid only

Target and bid

In this options, user will be show Ad creative if a user matches all of the targeting options. Means if you’re using layered targeting, this “target and bid” will ensure that the both criteria matches with the user before showing the ads.

Bid Only

In bid only options, user doesn’t have to me matched with all of the targeting options.In this, even if you layered targeting, google will bid separately for each targeting options and it doesn’t necessarily need to overlap.

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.

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