How to Target Your Display Ads

You’re targeting your audience, but are they seeing your ad? This guide will help you get your display ads right.

Published Categorized as Ads

So you’re running a display ad campaign on Google Ads for the first time and you want to know how to best target your ads. Or it’s been a while since you’ve used Google Ads and you’re feeling a little rusty.

Whatever your situation, we have what you need here. We have rounded up the best ways to target your display ads on the Google Display Network, and we’ll point you where to go to learn more about them.

Targeting Your Display Ads by Keywords

This is the type of targeting that most display ad buyers use, and for good reason.

If you do your keyword research properly in Google Keyword Planner and you select a good amount of high-volume, low-competition keywords for your ad campaign, you can target your display ads to appear only on pages on the web that have relevant content.

Then all you have to do is optimize the creative and messaging through testing, and you have a turbocharged marketing engine that brings loads of traffic to your landing page.

The procedure is simple and will be familiar to many of you reading this post:

Think about relevant, high-intent terms and questions that people are typing into Google.

Run them through the Google Keyword Tool to find out their competition, search volume, and bid range.

For every ad group in your ad campaign, Google recommends that you create a list of 5 to 20 keywords. As a general rule of thumb, two to three-word phrases tend to work the best.

Run, monitor, and optimize your campaign as you compare your assumptions and expectations against the actual behavior of your ads and the lessons learned from users’ interactions with them.

Where to learn more: Choose keywords for Display Network Campaigns (Google Ads Help)

Targeting Your Display Ads by Placements

This is the secret display ad targeting technique of ad buyers in Fortune 500 companies, fast-growing startups, and large ad agencies.

Many ad buyers don’t know this technique, and few advertising course creators talk about it. And it’s no wonder! This technique is highly effective, and the high-priced consultants like to keep it hush-hush so they can charge their clients tens of thousands of dollars for its use.

What’s the technique?

First, you choose your target keywords with the Google Ads Keyword Tool as you’d normally do.

Then you open a new tab, do a Google search for every keyword, and visit each of the sites that organically appear on page 1 of Google’s search results.

Some of these results will be your competitors’ blogs. And as you can imagine, they won’t have ads on them. Others, however, will be news sites, online magazines, and bloggers that monetize their sites with ads from the Google Display Network.


You then do placement targeting in Google Ads so your ads show up on these exact URLs.

Where to learn more: About placement targeting (Google Ads Help)

Targeting Your Display Ads by Keywords and Placements

If you want to advertise on specific websites in the Google Display Network—but you don’t want to limit your ads to the exact URLs of specific pages on them—you can use a combination of keyword targeting and placement targeting to have your ads appear on all pages with relevant content.

Where to learn more: How placements and keywords work together (Google Ads Help)

Targeting Your Display Ads With Custom Segments

Custom segments in Google Ads allow you to target your ads based on:

  • Users’ interests or behaviors
  • Users who browse websites similar to one or multiple websites
  • Users who use apps similar to one or multiple apps

Previously, you could do this using Custom Intent and Custom Affinity targeting in Google Ads. However, Google decided to simplify these and combine them in a new targeting option called Custom Segments.

You can create, edit, and delete custom segments by signing into Google Ads, opening Tools and Settings, going to Audience Manager (under Shared Library), then switching to the Custom Segments tab.

Where to learn more: About custom segments (Google Ads Help)

Targeting Your Display Ads With Customer Match

If you collect first-party data such as email addresses, phone numbers, and names, or you’re buying ads for someone who does, then you can upload that data to Google Ads and retarget your existing customers.

You do this by creating a Customer Match segment. When the users in your list are signed into their Google accounts, they will be able to see your ads when they browse sites in the Google Display Network.

You can also use this type of ad targeting to find customers similar to your highest-value customers.

Where to learn more: About Customer Match (Google Ads Help)

Final Words

Remember that keyword-targeted ads, placement-targeted ads, and ads targeted with a combination of the two compete based on their Ad Rank.

Ad Rank is a complex score calculated based on your bidding strategy, your ad quality, the user context, and the signals for the user’s experience on your landing page.

This means that you not only want to use the right targeting strategy but also create ads and landing pages that compel and retain users.

Leave a comment

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