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Display Network - How many Targeting Methods to choose?

The display network offers three major pre-set targeting methods, depending on the campaign's goals. (Awareness, Drive consideration, Drive action).


Inside AdWords  An easier way to create Display campaigns.png

Advertisers can also customize their targeting methods using the ”all features” options (“no marketing objectives”). This is my preferred display campaign settings: it allows fine tuning of the targeting methods and audiences in a display campaign.


However, when using the “all features and options” in a display campaign, advertisers should be cautious, on one hand, not to target too broad, and on the other hand, not to target too narrow,  and potentially lose relevant audiences.


So, how many targeting methods would I recommend for a direct sales campaign?


I always start with keywords. Keyword targeting defines the “framework” of the business or products promoted. 10-15 keywords should suffice to define the theme of the products or services promoted. I see in many campaigns that advertisers use dozens of keywords for a display campaign. This isn't necessary. On the display network keywords work collectively to define a broad theme which is matched to the content of webpages. Hence, using long tail keywords, or too many keywords - is a redundancy.


Keywords should not be too specific, but also not too broad. For example, airline tickets could be too broad, however, low cost air tickets, budget air tickets in Europe, last minute cheap flight are all examples of keywords which together work collectively to define a theme of low cost airline tickets.


In addition to keywords targeting,  I usually include one more targeting method. This could be either Topics, or managed placements. (Adjust the bid for the better performing placements under the placements tab.)  For a direct sales campaign, my preference is to limit  to only two targeting methods. Adding interests or demographic could exclude potential audiences.


However, in remarketing campaigns, in which  ads are shown only to user already visited the site, and the advertiser's goal is to attract these users back to the site (to convert),  there is an advantage  to add interests AND  demographic  targeting. This would  narrow the group of users  targeted, and focus on user who have shown a real  interest in the product or service.


To conclude; 

When using the "all features" targeting for setting a display campaign:

  • Choose your keywords wisely. (Not too broad, but not too narrow either.)
  • Ad another targeting method.
  • As the  campaign progresses and a Remarketing list is built: Add a Remarketing campaign with additional targeting methods to focus on the audience likely to convert.

about Moshe Avichai

We are an online advertising partnership, specializing in Search and Display networks, Global Campaigns, Audience targeting, and AdWords Policy

Lakatos Top Contributor
June 2016

Thanks for posting the article, Moshe. It really offers thoughtful insight to newbies and experienced advertisers alike.