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Explain like I'm a complete noob: Placement targeting "bid only"

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# 1
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Suppose I have a GDN only campaign where im targeting by age, gender, interest, and keywords.


Suppose i have these targetings

age: target and bid

- gender: target and bid

- interest: target and bid

- placement: bid only


What does this mean? Does this mean that adwords will show an ad IF the user meets the age, gender, and interest... but not placement? 

Marked as Best Answer.
Accepted by topic author taewoo
June 2016

Re: Explain like I'm a complete noob: Placement targeting "bid only"

[ Edited ]
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# 2
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Target and bid, means that a user MUST fit that category for AdWords to serve an ad. So, if you set
Age: 18-24, 25-34, 35-44
Gender: Male
Interest: Outdoor Sports
all to Target and Bid, then AdWords will only serve an ad for someone that fits into all three of those categories. It's a way to make sure your targeting is very narrow.

If you add placement targeting as bid only, then you're telling AdWords to use a certain bid for a placement. So, the user will still be restricted by your other categories, but ads can show on any placement. You would use this if you didn't want to restrict the placements, but maybe there are a few websites that you want to bid really high for because you know they are highly relevant sites.

Re: Explain like I'm a complete noob: Placement targeting "bid only"

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# 3
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Thanks MIchael

Two questions in the same scenario

1) if i say "target and bid" for placement, does that mean that I want ONLY placements that are relevant via keywords?
2) if adgroup has KWs, are keywords "target and bid" (so to speak) by default?

Re: Explain like I'm a complete noob: Placement targeting "bid only"

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# 4
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1) No, when you set a placement, you are specifically saying I want to appear on this website (e.g.,, so it's not about the keywords (or topic, interest, affinity segment, whatever).

2) Yes, keywords are always used to target. Right now, there is no option to add keywords as "bid only."

Essentially, one of your targeting methods *has* to be "target and bid" and then you can add other layers either to a) narrow that down more (target and bid), or b) keep targeting the entire group, but adjust bids based on other factors (bid only).

Re: Explain like I'm a complete noob: Placement targeting "bid only"

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# 5
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Thanks for that clarification Michael
One last "clarification" question..

if I had adgroup A as bid only (and NO specified placements), would adwords sorta go off and try placements it thinks it would work?

if I had adgroup B as bid & target AND i did specify placements, would adwords bid ONLY on those placements?

And what would happen if I had in adgroup C where I specified bid only AND did specify placements?

Re: Explain like I'm a complete noob: Placement targeting "bid only"

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# 6
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I'm assuming you mean alongside the other targeting criteria? Because you have to specify some sort of targeting criteria to serve ads. In general, I leave placements alone until the ad groups have gathered some data, and then I look at the placements report to see where the ads have been showing up. You'll find some irrelevant ones that you want to exclude, and you'll find some that seem to work that you hadn't thought of. Then you can go and add these later if you'd like to manage bids on particular placements.

So, yes, AdWords will automatically serve your ads on any page that matches your targeting criteria, whether you've specified placements or not. You can think of all the different targeting criteria like a big Venn diagram. The more layers that you add as "target and bid", the smaller the pool of web pages that match.

Re: Explain like I'm a complete noob: Placement targeting "bid only"

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# 7
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For others.. I got a response from Jarett from adwords social media team:


Ok all great questions! "target and bid" and "bid only" can become a bit overwhelming sometimes. So first, you always have to have at least one targeting method set to "target and bid" within an adgroup. If you do not, AdWords will not know what to target. The "bid only" feature is sort of like "and if this overlaps" feature. What I mean here, is the "bid only" feature allows you to bid more competitively when the targeting method you've selected as "bid only" overlaps with your main targeting method set to "target and bid." Let's use your examples to explain.

Adgroup A: If ad group A is only set as "bid only", then no ads will show period. You need to specify some sort of targeting method as "target and bid."

Adgroup B: If you select the targeting method "placements" and set it to "target and bid," AdWords would only target those placements if that's the only targeting method you have set to "target and bid." Now let's say in addition to "placement" targeting set to "target and bid" you also decide to use the "remarketing" targeting and set it to "target and bid." This acts as an 'and' statement. Meaning the user has to have been on your remarketing list and be on a specified placement to be eligible to see your ad.

Now here's another hypothetical. Let's say you use the targeting method "remarketing" and have it set to "target and bid." You then also select placements in the same adgroup as a targeting method and set it to "bid only." You've now specified that a user MUST be on your remarketing list (target and bid) to see your ad and if they happen to be on one of the websites you've added as a placement, then you're willing to bid more for your ad to show (bid only).

So to illustrate more for you, let's say you have a bid set at $5 overall. So when someone is surfing the web, you're willing to spend $5 to have your ad show if they are on your remarketing list. But you have a site that you know a lot of your target market visits,, so you set a bid at $10 for that site. So you have instructed AdWords to only show your ad to people who are on your remarketing list (target and bid) at $5 per click. If that person who is on your remarketing list also visits the site, you've specified that you are now willing to pay $10 vs. $5 for the combo of targeting methods.

So in summary:
(1) An adgroup must have at least one targeting method set to "target and bid" to show ads.
(2) Bid only is used to specify that you want to set a different bid if the customer meats your "target and bid" targeting method, and happens to also meet the "bid only" specification.
(3) "Target and bid" acts as an 'and' meaning that if you have any targeting method set to it, it must be met for your ad to show. So if you have multiple targeting methods set to "target and bid" within one adgroup, all must be met by your customer for your ad to show.

It looks like adgroup C is the same as adgroup B in your question. This is a lot of information, so please let me know if you have additional questions.