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Effective Targeting Methods for Google Display Network9 min read

March 06, 2019

If you have opted for online Ads, Google Adwords is your best bet to reach a wide range of customers, targeting sites and pages. Moreover, it helps you engage your audience with a variety of appealing ad formats too.

The Display Network is a collection of millions of websites, smartphone apps, videos, blogs, and other online destinations where advertisers can place their Display ads.

It includes various ad types such as image, responsive, interactive, video and mobile.

Helping you target your ads effectively, GDN gets the most compatible audience through its different channels.

Get More Control, and Choose the Target Audience

Google Display Network provides you with different targeting options to strategically show your message to potential customers. Here are some ways you can approach targeting:

  • Website Based Targeting: Target all users from a set of websites, based on certain chosen criteria. It shows ads to all users on those sites.
  • Managed Placements Targeting: A targeting method you can use to specifically choose websites, videos, and apps that are part of the Google Display Network where you’d like to show your ads. A managed placement target is the most direct way to target a website. Simply choose the website(s) or pages you want to show your Ad. You can use the Display Planner Tool to get traffic and cost estimates for a certain domain, see which ad formats the site supports, and get ideas for other similar placements.
    If you know or have a hunch that your prospective audience frequents the specific site, directly target those. For TrueView in-stream ads you can target specific YouTube videos, a YouTube channel, and even websites on the Display Network.
  • Keyword Contextual Targeting: Keyword contextual targeting on GDN is similar to topic targeting but less restrictive. It’s perfect if your topic isn’t one of the hundreds defined by Google in the topic targeting. Simply create a list of keywords and your ads will be matched to the page that has contextually similar content. You can target ads to people who are visiting or have visited websites with content relevant to the keywords you enter. This is an easy way to target a lot of people who meet very narrow, specific criteria.

  • Remarketing: Remarketing is one of GDN’s most powerful tools. It allows you to serve ads to previous visitors of your site as they navigate the web, keeping your product and brand at the front of their mind, even after leaving the site. Remarketing also allows you to engage with high-value visitors, such as those who have purchased (from you) in the past, viewed key pages (such as product or pricing pages), or were engaged on your site, differently than those who have not. There are different types of remarketing which are mentioned below:
    • Standard remarketing: Show ads to your past visitors as they browse Display Network websites and use Display Network apps.
    • Dynamic remarketing: Work to boost your results with dynamic remarketing, which takes remarketing to the next level with ads that include products or services that people viewed on your website.
    • Video remarketing: Show ads to people who have interacted with your videos or YouTube channel as they use YouTube and browse Display Network videos, websites, and apps. 
  • Similar Audiences: It allows you to attract new users to your site who have similar browsing and search behaviour as those already on your remarketing lists. Similar audience targeting is a great next step for those advertisers who have seen success with remarketing to find their next best audience to target. Let Google target prospects similar to the site visitors in your remarketing list. Commonly called “look-alike targeting,” targeting these shared characteristics reaches an audience, on average, 5x larger than your remarketing list.
  • In-Market Audiences: In-market audience targeting shows your ad to users whose search and internet browsing behaviour indicates that they may be “in the market” for a certain product or service.
    Reach potential customers while they’re actively browsing, researching or comparing the types of products you sell and are close to conversion. For example, a user who starts repeatedly searching for “Startup Jobs” and starts visiting related postings on angel.com could be identified as “in the market” for a temporary or startup job. In the market, audience targeting works best for products or services that have longer buying and researching cycles.
  • Custom Intent Audiences: Custom intent audiences allow you to reach the ideal audience for your business in your Display and Video campaigns by segmenting ad groups according to the specific keywords and landing pages you would like to target. You can use custom intent audiences with auto-created audience segments or you can define your own audiences by entering high intent keywords related to your product or service. Google Ads will then show ads to people who are likely to be interested in these keywords on pages, apps, and videos.
  • Interests: Interest targeting matches your ads to users who recently started viewing sites of the same topic.
    It’s ideal for finding new customers who have just begun to be interested in something. Consider matching your offer and promoting beginner or novice level products or services for these casual users.
  • Affinity: Affinity targeting is similar to interest targeting, but it matches your ads to users who habitually visit sites of the same topic. Think of them as long-term interests. These are your more experienced, hardcore users. Consider matching your offer and promoting more advanced or speciality products or services for these experienced users. Reach audiences based on their specific interests as they browse pages, apps, channels, and content across the Display Network. Choose from 80 segments based on online behaviour. 
  • Custom affinity targeting: Customize an existing affinity audience to further optimize and capture prospective customers. For example, rather than reaching sports fans, a running shoe company may want to reach “avid marathon runners” instead. With custom affinity audiences, the shoe company can define this audience.
  • Demographic Targeting on the Google Display Network: In addition to the various website- and user-based targeting methods, we can also layer on demographic targets for a user’s gender, age range, and parental status. Advertisers can either exclude or create custom bid adjustments for users based on these demographics. The implications for certain advertisers with a strong homogenous key demographics are clear. If your industry leans heavily on one gender, age range, or parental status (say, women’s clothing, retirement services, or baby care), demographic targeting may be a powerful tool for you to leverage.
  • Automatic targeting: For targeting that quickly and automatically optimizes, use automatic targeting. With automatic targeting, we don’t need to manage each aspect of targeting—just let Google’s systems discover what strategies work best for us. It is of 2 types: 
    • Conservative automation: If we are happy with the performance of our campaign and want additional traffic, consider enabling conservative automation. If we want more conversions, but need to stay close to our current cost per customer, conservative automation is for us!
    • Aggressive automation: If we want to get as many conversions as possible, typically around +10 per cent from our current cost per customer, we should try aggressive automation. Aggressive automation is unlocked on Display campaigns when we reach at least 15 conversions per month (with conversion tracking enabled).

How to Decide which Targeting to Use?

Before we start figuring out which targeting strategies to use, it’s helpful to visualize how we will find potential customers online. The following framework breaks down it in three distinct ways:

One aspect of targeting focuses on “WHO” is in your target audience.

Audience targeting helps you identify, re-engage, and expand your audience online. You can target those who actively intend to purchase your products using high intent keywords in Custom Intent Audiences and personalize your ads with relevant messages. All thanks to machine learning.

Example: For customers who abandoned a shopping cart without making a purchase, show ads with “20% Off Your Next Order!” to encourage them to complete the purchase.

Another aspect of targeting focuses on “WHERE” your audience is.

“WHERE” can refer to where your customers are in the physical world (e.g., location and device targeting) or where they are online (e.g., contextual or topic targeting).

Example: Suppose you’ve created an ad group to advertise your car dealership’s latest lineup and you’ve included keywords like “fuel-efficient cars” and “2018 electric cars”. We use contextual targeting to identify and place your ad on pages that match those keywords.

The final aspect of targeting focuses on “WHAT” is of interest to your audience.

With Google Ads, you can specify keywords based on what people are searching for. When people search for words like your keywords on Google or partner sites, you can display your ads alongside those search results.

Example: Say you own a flower shop. You can create keywords like “flowers for mom”. When people search “flowers for mom”, your ad may show alongside those search results.

Which one has been the most impactful in the majority business objectives?

As choosing the right audience strategy is a matter of analysis and a few major factors but as per the experience, “Custom Intent Audiences” has been very impactful in terms of the conversion results. To start working with custom intent audiences, make sure you have created a keywords list to target the right customers. You get to set up these audiences in the Display and Video campaigns to reach an online audience that’s actively researching a related product or service. Include keywords related to the products and services this audience is researching, which will be used as the focal point for building the custom intent audience. If possible, it’s a good idea (but not essential) to set up conversion tracking before you start your campaign. And optimizing for the end conversion provides best results as Google learns and segments the audience as per the probability of users’ converting on the website.

Google uses machine-learning technology to analyze your existing campaigns and automatically creates custom intent audience suggestions. These audiences are based on the most common keywords found in content that people browse while researching a given product or service.

For example, insights from existing campaigns may show that people who’ve visited a sporting goods website have also actively researched rainy day workout shoes. Google Ads may then auto-create a new “waterproof trail running shoes” custom intent audience that can simplify the process of reaching this niche segment of customers. These audiences are constantly refreshed, which may lead to improved performance over time.

We offer Display, Video & Native Advertising solutions.

The Google Display Network is a powerful medium to expose your brand to a wide range of new users who might not yet be searching on Google for your product. Sophisticated website and user-based targets, as well as layered demographic targeting, allows you to experiment and find your audience, no matter how niche it is.

Show laser-targeted ads to your potential customers and save on ad waste.

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