Targeting Strategies for Display Advertising

Google Display Ads Targeting Strategies
May 31, 2019 MadMarTech

To run a successful display campaign, it is important to reach the right people at the right time. This can be accomplished using multiple targeting options available on Google Display Ads using the Google Display Network.

In this post on targeting overview, we will cover the following topics:

  1. Location Targeting
  2. Language Targeting
  3. Demographic Targeting
  4. Automated Targeting
  5. Audience Targeting Overview
  6. Contextual Targeting/Content Targeting

We will start with the basic ones and have a deep dive on audience targeting in the next article.

Location Targeting

Using Google Ads, you could show your ads to specific countries, states, or even a radius around your offline store. If you have an online eCommerce store or a webpage, we recommend following the steps below:

Navigate to the Audience section in Google Analytics and make a list of popular cities your users are coming from.
Filter out the locations that have the least engagement like dwell time for a non-eCommerce site or conversions for eCommerce sites.
Now go back to your display audiences and add the cities/locations in bulk using Advanced search options at the bottom left corner of location targeting options.

This will help you to target locations that have high potential to convert. Google will automatically detect all the locations and will add to your targeting strategy. Make sure you double check all the locations.

An important point to note: Always choose “People in or regularly in targeted locations” to optimize the campaign.

Here is an example of location targeting settings to use for your next Google Ads Display campaign:

Location targeting strategies for display ad campaigns


location targeting settings for Google display ads


Language Targeting

Language targeting is used to target users based on the language they understand. It is not limited to the languages of the page they visit, but it is attributed to the user. If you are French/English bilingual and you have surfed for webpages in French or consumed french content in the past, you are likely to get French ads even on English webpages. Language targeting is important if you have multi-lingual webpages or international eCommerce stores. Make sure that your creative/ad copy language matches the language of the store landing page.

Language Targeting in Google Display ads


Demographic Targeting

Google lets you target a particular demographic of people based on their age, gender, and household income, and parental status. It is always a good idea to have a look at your Google Analytics data and see which age group of people convert the most and exclude the ones that don’t convert. If you are running a webpage for new mothers, it makes sense to exclude “Not a parent” category to get better results for your display campaign. All the premium and luxury brands exclude low household income category. However, household income is not available for all countries.

Here is an example of a Demographic targeting interface on Google Ads:


demographic targeting strategies on display advertising

Automated Targeting

Automated targeting is a targeting strategy used by Google Ads and you have 2 available options to choose from:

1.Conservative Targeting
2.Aggressive Targeting

Aggressive Targeting is chosen when the advertiser wants to get as many conversions as possible based on the given budget. Aggressive targeting uses variations in the target audience set to reach more people. The cost per action using aggressive targeting may vary as Google algorithm tries to get as many conversions as possible.

Conservative targeting however on the other hand targets related audiences. For example, if you would like to target audience using shoes, then conservative targeting uses casual shoes, summer shoes, etc. Use conservative targeting if you have a small-medium budget or if you are not sure which one to use.

Audience Targeting

Audience targeting is the most powerful targeting in display ads. Google has monitored and profiled users based on their browser history and actions into buckets. For advertisers, this is a boon as you could target right users at the exact buying journey. This is a very vast topic and hence will have a dedicated article to cover this topic in greater detail. There are three types of audience targeting that you could use:

  1. Affinity Audiences which are ideal for branding purposes as they are broad
  2. Remarketing and Similar Audiences: Highly recommended for best conversions possibility.
  3. In-market and Custom Intent Audiences for high conversions

If you would like to know more about how to use these audiences and the best practices, we recommend you to read this post.


audience targeting for display ads

Content Targeting/Contextual Targeting

The content/contextual targeting has been the buzz word in the programmatic world and has been overly used in sales pitches to win new clients. This actually means that choosing the display ad targeting based on web content. You could target specific keywords, topic, and placements for your display ads. There is a lot of flexibility and you could narrow down your reach to a defined target group or expand your reach based on chosen targeting strategy. If you would like to know more on content targeting and how you could use it for your display ad campaign, check this post.