AdWords is now Google Ads. Our new name reflects the full range of advertising options we offer across Search, Display, YouTube, and more. Learn more

2.5K members online now
2.5K members online now
Welcome to the Official Google Ads Community
Find optimization tips and how-to guides and videos by the Google team, Google Ads Experts and other industry experts
Google Employee

Target and Bid vs Bid Only | #AdWordsAnswers


Hi AdWords Community,

I’m Priyanka from the AdWords team, and today I’d like to talk about two targeting options: Target and Bid and Bid Only.

Target and Bid and Bid Only are terms you’ll come across while setting up ads on the Display Network or when setting up Remarketing Lists for Search Ads (RLSA) on the Search Network.


Let’s start by defining them:


Target and Bid:


For the system to serve your ads, it needs a target. How will it find users for your ads? The answer to that is your targeting method. You can instruct the system to target a specific website(s), keyword(s), topic(s) and so on. Think of it as a game of darts--if the darts are ads, the dartboard is the target.


Bid Only:


In addition to Target and Bid, you can also have the system bid differently on a specific targeting option without having it as a mandatory condition. Think of this as the “bullseye” on a dartboard. It’s not mandatory to hit it, but it’s definitely a bonus!


Why do I need “Bid Only”? Can’t I just use the “Target and Bid” option?


It is important to remember that all Target and Bid targets are mandatory targets. All targets need to be satisfied in order for the user to be eligible to see your ad. You’ll see in the examples mentioned below that layering targets on top of the “Target and Bid” option will streamline your targeting without the negative effect of a loss in traffic.


We’ll clarify the need for “Bid Only” with an example. Let’s say you’re an ecommerce site that specialises in mobile phones. You have created an Ad Group with Display Banner ads to serve on Let’s say that you would like to bid $1 on the ads. In addition to that, you add the “Mobile Phones” topic as Bid Only with a $2 bid.

The system interprets it this way:

1. The user must be on to see the ad

  1. The user need not be interested in the topic: Mobile Phones
  2. The default bids for the ad is $1
  3. If the user is interested in “Mobile Phones,” then the bid is automatically increased to $2.


Let’s understand these settings better with an example


download (3).png

In this case above, we have chosen Placements Targeting for and and kept it on Target and Bid. At the same time, we’ve added a Topic Targeting of “Cats” on Bid Only.

What happens next? This means that the ad will only run on or Since Cats is on Bid Only, it means it’s an optional targeting setting. We can set a specific bid for cases where videos about Cats on YouTube come together.


download (2).png


In this case, we’ve kept both the targeting options of Placements (, and Topic Targeting (Cats) on Target and Bid.

What will happen next this time? The ads will only show when both criteria are fulfilled, i.e. on pages on YouTube that are related to Cats. If you’ve specified two different bids for the targeting options, the one that’s higher will be taken into consideration during the auction.


Note that by adding just one more layer of “Target and Bid” targeting, we are now looking at a smaller fraction of the original traffic estimate (5 billion impressions to 5 million impressions). These are just estimates by the system, but keep in mind that layering too many targets might not only lead to a sharp decline in traffic but also, in some cases, even prevent your ads from showing.

Points to keep in mind while using these settings


  • There has to be at least one targeting method on “Target and Bid” in order for the ad group to run successfully.
  • Display Keywords are always on “Target and Bid” by default.
  • Want to check your settings at a glance?  Add the "Targeting setting" column located under "Attributes" in the "Column" drop-down menu to see which of your methods are set to "Target and bid" or "Bid only."

I hope this was insightful! If you have any questions, do leave a comment below and we’d be happy to answer them. If you’d like to discuss the targeting options in detail, feel free to get in touch with the AdWords Support Team.

Have a great day ahead!

Maayrah I
April 2016

Hi Priyanka,


Helpful post. QQ. If I am choosing Keywords and topics, with topics being on bid only, how do I go about setting different bids for keywords and topics, like say $2 for Kws and $4 for Topics. After having added kws, it anyways picks up the $2 bid that is the default ad group bid. So now when I go to the Topics page under Display and try to change the bid, it says enable custom bid to be able to do that. I enable it from there itself and change the bid to $4 for topics like I wanted. However, now when I go back to Kws tab under Display, the $2 bid is gone and nothing is there. If I try to edit that, it says that I will have to give up the custom bid on Topics to set this. So it's seeming like I can only specify for one. Help, where am I going wrong.




Priyanka B Google Employee
May 2016

Hi Adi, 

That's a great question! You're right, Custom Bids can only be enabled for any one targeting option. The other targeting options would end up using the default bid that's in place. 

I'd recommend reading more about how you can alter bids in Display Network campaigns with default bids, custom bids and bid adjustments. We have a really helpful article that explains all these concepts clearly; check it out here: 

Hope this helps! Do let me know if there's anything else I can help you with. Smiley Happy


September 2016

Your given link return 404 error. Please give me the correct link.


Shuvashish Saha

Analytics M
April 2017

I have a Display network campaign with the Adgroup targeting managed placements with Target & Bid option. I wanted to add another targeting "Topics" .My requirement here is this topic targeting should not narrow my managed placements . My Topic targeting should be independent it should  additionally target websites topic wise not interfering my management placements in anyways.

In such scenario advice which bid method works


Managed placements - Target and bid


Topic - Target and bid


Topic - Bid only

Arv r
April 2017

Hi, Priyanka


Regarding Managed placement and Topics combination of Target & Bid and Bid Only

There has been couple of explanations about Target & Bid and Bid Only options however either it’s explained too simple or too complicated and leaving us little confused hence I have come out with combinations where experts could help us with the answers.


Here I consider the combinations of Managed placement and Topics.


Scenario 1

Managed placements (Target & Bid) + Topics (Bid Only):


Let me come with an example:

Managed placement:

Topic: News


Will ads display in and will it also display in “other websites” wherever the topic matches. Here i mean other websites as websites that are not listed in the manually entered placements.


Will ads display in (across pages) and also display in when it matches the topic i.e. the topic “News” in  and any other websites mentioned within the placements we have entered.


Scenario 2

Topics (Bid Only) + Managed placements (Target & Bid)

Let me come with an example:

Topic: News

Managed placement:


Will ads display in all websites that are not listed in the placements when topic matches? and also Ads will display in all the websites across display network which are not listed in placements and also will ads run in placements websites only if it matches the topic.


Scenario 3

Managed placements (Target & Bid) + Topics (Target & Bid)

Will ads display in placement websites only if the topic matches and ads will not run in any other websites apart the manually entered placements.

Ads run only in if it matches the topic News.


Scenario 4

Topics (Target & Bid) + Managed placements (Bid only)

Ads display in all websites in display network irrespective of the manually entered placements and also ads run in managed placement websites if the topic matches.

Ads run across display network + only in if it matches the topic.


Priyanka B Google Employee
April 2017

Hi Analytics M

To achieve the objective you mentioned, the setup should be - 

Managed placements - Target and bid

Topics - Bid Only

You can then bid higher on Topics if you want. Hope this helps! 

Leandra P
June 2017

Very helpful. Thank you

Marina Pilip
June 2017

Hi Priyanka, 


Very helpful article, thank you!


Do I understand correctly that "Bid only" strategy doesn't work with "Target CPA" automated bidding strategy as I cannot modify bids manually for different targets?