For most Google AdWords campaign managers, their journey to becoming an AdWords Guru started with Google Search Advertising and somehow naturally progressed into Display Advertising. One soon learns however, that Google AdWords Display Advertising (also known as Placement Targeting) is a very different animal to Google AdWords Search Advertising.

We highlight 7 key Targeting features of Google Display Targeting that can help your AdWords Campaigns perform better.

1. Contextual (or Semantic) Targeting:

Instead of being triggered by Search Queries on Google Search Engine Results Pages through Search Targeting your ads are shown to users who are visiting web pages that contextually match the keywords that you have chosen.

Imagine this: someone is browsing the web looking for information about growing and pruning rose bushes and visits a gardening blog that provides useful tips on how to grow and maintain roses. You, the advertiser, wants to of course sell roses to people who have an interest in growing rose bushes. Suddenly, the semantic web displays your advertisement selling beautiful rose bushes on special on that particular gardening blog. Even though the avid gardener was not actively searching to buy roses on Google, your advert piqued their interest enough to click on your advertisement and take advantage of your special offer.

Picture of roses being cut

This type of Contextual Relevance means they are more likely to convert into sales, than on other more generic or unrelated sites.

Useful Tip:
When first opting into the Display Network, try not to merely copy your search campaign keywords over into your new Display Campaign. Rather focus on more specific, targeted groups of closely related keywords (no more than 5 to 10 thematically related keywords) to help Google better match your campaign to related sites. Remember to exclude keywords that you know will not be relevant in context. “Guns and Roses” may not be so appropriate.


Find your Display Campaign Keywords under the Display Network tab.

2. Topic Targeting in the Google Display Network

Perhaps not as targeted as Contextual Targeting, targeting by topic is fantastic for both relevance and when you don’t have the time to fine tune your targeting to keyword level. Since Google builds online advertising profiles for all people who use the Search Engine, making it easier for Google to show ads to people who have shown an interest in a specific topics.


As an advertiser, you can easily identify the categories and topics that you want to target by going to the Topics section under the Display Campaigns tab of your Campaign. The tool will help you select the best topics based on the keywords that you have identified for the campaign.

3. Use Remarketing to increase Response

Remarketing is a wonderful targeting method for Display Advertising to help drive down wasted impressions on irrelevant users and improve Click Thru’s from those visitors who are actually interested in what you have to offer. Not to mention a decrease in cost-per-clicks. Google’s research has shown that people are more likely to click on display ads if they have seen your Search ads before – and visa versa. Just imagine what you could achieve when you target people who have already shown interest in your business offering.

Watch this video to learn more about Remarketing:

Useful Tip:

The best tip that I could give you for Targeting with Remarketing is to start the process with a Search Campaign. In niche markets with very specific search queries, the clicks you receive from these keywords are from people who are much more likely to convert than others who are just browsing.


Apply your Remarketing code to the pages that your Search Campaign point to. This way you will be able to re-target those customers on Google’s Display network, targeting people who have both shown an interest and need to see your ads more before they are willing to convert. Remember to set Impression caps and re-marketing timespans – we usually say no more than 7 times in 7 days per visitor – you don’t want to rack up unnecessary impressions or make your clients feel like you are spamming them.

4. Managed Placement Targeting

Do you know exactly which sites and which pages you want to advertise on? This, for many Google Display Advertisers helps to cement their campaign targeting. This may help to enhance visibility for your campaigns if you know which specific online media channels your audiences use.

Placement Targeting allows you to specify a particular website – and in most instances, exactly where on the website – your ad should appear. Managed Placement Targeting allows you to control how much (or little) you are prepared to spend on a specific website in order to attract your customer.

Useful Tip:
Management Placement Targeting means that you are targeting specific placements on websites that belong to the Google Display Network. To get best return on your investment, never bid more CPM (Cost per thousand impressions) than the publisher’s rate-card rate. Remember, you are also not guaranteed this spot as it comes down to the AdWords auction and ranking model. If you want to guarantee that your advertisement is going to appear on a specific spot on a particular website, then rather contact the publisher of that website directly.

5. Geographic Targeting in Display Campaigns

Geographic Targeting is as much a part of your Display Targeting as it was in your Search Campaigns, if not even more important. Because the rate of impressions that are generated with Display Campaigns is so high, making sure that your Geographic Targeting is accurate and appropriate can help you vastly improve the efficacy of your ads. With proper Geographic Targeting you should expect higher Click Thru Rates and of course, more targeted and relevant customers visiting your website.

south america statistics image

Useful Tip:

Be sure to pick only those areas you are most likely to receive relevant clicks from. If you are a hair salon in Fourways, don’t set your targeting to National – you will waste your impressions. You will find the Geographic Targeting settings in your Campaign Settings Tab. It’s wise to go with the option that says, “Target people in or Searching for information on my area”. This helps negate much of your unwanted traffic, especially in display campaigns.

6. Age and Gender Targeting

This is surely a game changer for Google Display that you won’t find in Google Search Advertising. You are able to set which age group and gender you prefer to target for each of your active Display Campaigns, and Google AdWords will only show your Display ads to users on the Display Network who are most likely to match this in their profile.


To apply Demographic Targeting in your Display Campaign, visit the, Display Network tab of your Display Campaign and select either the, “Age” or , “Gender” tab in that section.

Useful Tip:

You will be able to see exactly how your campaigns have been fairing in terms age category and gender, making it easier to exclude those categories in your campaigns that aren’t receiving the traffic rates that you are looking for.

7. Exclusions for Google Display

If you’ve used Negative Keywords in Google Search Campaigns, you’ll be familiar with the benefits that excluding irrelevant traffic has on your AdWords results. Exclusions can take your Display Campaigns from high levels of irrelevant clicks to having surplus budget for the, “right” types of traffic. Better click-thru’s, lower cost-per-clicks, lower monthly costs, and more conversions are all benefits to eliminating irrelevant and unwanted traffic.

Useful Tip:
To get the best results from your Display Advertising, make use of the Exclusions Tab at the bottom of all the Targeting Sections that were mentioned above this point (point1-7). Each section of targeting in your Display Networks tab allows you to exclude the traffic that may be spilling over into your targeted display traffic. Targeting Exclusions are available for Display Keywords, Specific Placements, Topics, Gender, Age and Categories of sites.

Here, “Categories” is an additional tab that lets you exclude specific placements based on the types of sites and their content (i.e. If you do not want your advertisement to be associated with a particular category of sites). These exclusions, amongst others, are based on excluding mobile sites, offensive or adult content, or even perhaps sites with too much video content.

Google Display Advertising is not at the mercy of poor targeting!

The next time you are managing and refining your Google Display Advertising campaigns, explore these ways in which you can fine-tune your campaign targeting. You need to go against the belief that Display Advertising has low Click Thru Rates and push back against the thought that, “that’s just how the Online World works”. With better targeting, you can increase your Display Ad click-thru-rates from the shocking 0.3% that advertisers have come to expect, to between 1.5% and 3% (at least).

With all the available impressions and disposable income online, learning to refine your Google AdWords Display Targeting will help not only boost, but kick-start your supercharged Google Display results.