How Are Google Ads Targeted?

January 24, 2024

How Are Google Ads Targeted? | AIA Book in a free 30 minute strategy session

At Australian Internet Advertising, most of our work has to do with Google. Whether it’s for search engine optimisation purposes, creating great websites for clients, or even just old-fashioned advertising, everything we do for our clients is tightly related to Google.

And for a good reason. In today’s market, the top search engine can have a lot to say about the success of a business. So before we do anything, we try to think about what Google would want to see from a website and follow that lead.

The same goes for PPC ads or Google Ads. It’s not what we, or what our clients want the ad to do, or who to target, but what Google wants. So, we’ve used our practical knowledge on how Google expects you to target your ads to create this guide and help you boost your paid search efforts.

Why You Need to Worry about Targeting

Targeting your ads correctly is essential. You may have created the absolute perfect ad. The ad copy is spot on and guaranteed to draw people’s attention. But unless you show it to the right people, and at the right moment, you’ll have a hard time reaching your goal.

And just because you pay for Adwords doesn’t mean you’re guaranteed a good conversion rate. The Google service, like any other PPC out there, is just that: resource marketers can access to market their products and services and get them in front of as many people as possible. It’s how you use it that really counts.

How to Target People with Google Ads

When we’re using targeting options for our ads (be they campaigns, ad groups, or whatever else we have going on), we are essentially telling Google Ads how to act: who to display the ads to, and where we’d like the ads to appear on this vast sea of information (commonly known as the web).

There are three types of Google Ads Campaigns available: display (ads that appear on certain parts of the web), search (ads that appear in the Google search page when a user looks for something), and video (including, but not limited to, advertisements that annoy regular YouTube users).

Remarketing flat isometric vector concept. A man pushing an AD on the web page and gets the same advertising banner on all types of devices for internet access.

There are two significant forms of targeting you need to focus on:

What to Target?

1. Audience Targeting

This is the “who” part of the equation. It’s beneficial because it allows marketers to take their ads to those users who might be the most interested in them, therefore increasing the chances of getting qualified leads and, ultimately, conversions.

And there are a lot of different things that go into it:

  • Demographics: focusing on people with a specific profile, based on location, age, gender, or even the type of device they use to surf the web;
  • In-market: people who’ve previously searched for products or services similar to those you are offering. These users have already shown interest into what you’re providing so there could be a better chance of getting conversions by targeting them;
  • Affinity: a more generalised audience with a common interest, or preference, similar to how TV programs target audiences behave. For instance, people who watch Breaking Bad on TV can vary regarding demographics, but their affinity links them for the show;
  • Custom intent audience: here, you can use keywords related to people most likely to engage with your website. Additionally, you can also add URLs for sites, YouTube content or even apps, as long as they relate to the custom intent audience’s interests.
  • Remarketing: targeting people who have already interacted with your ad or website, but did not convert. The only criterion before starting adding people to your remarketing list is that they’ve previously been redirected to your site through the ad;
  • Similar audience: targeting audiences similar to those from your remarketing list. Even though they haven’t searched for your products or services, their similar interests make them a valuable audience to target.

2. Content Targeting

This goes beyond who we target in our ads and gets more in detail about how we want our ads to appear. And as you’ll see soon enough, most have to do with the Google Display Network, so before we begin, let’s establish what it is.

In short, the display network is a group of more than 2 million websites, apps, or videos where Google Ads can appear. Some estimate that it reaches over 90% of internet users worldwide. With it, you can target people who display particular behaviors, have specific interests, or belong to a certain demographic. That’s the Display Network in a nutshell.

Here are the basics of content targeting:

  • Placement: targeting websites on the Google Display Network the customers visit. If you choose this type of targeting, you’ll have to compile a list of sites where you want your ads to appear. It can be either the entire website or just a specific part where you think it would perform the best;
  • Topics: allows you to target one ad to multiple pages on particular topics at once. With it, you can reach a wide range of pages on the Display Network, as long as they fit the topics you select.
  • Content keywords: choosing words relevant to your brand (product or service) to target people searching them;
  • Display expansion for search: here, you leave your fate in the hands of Google. Adwords will find users for your ads using a combination of smart targeting and automated bidding.

One More Thing: Observation

Let’s say, you want to observe how an ad performs when a user matches your criteria, but you don’t want to restrict the ads only to show that criteria. Well, the observation feature lets you monitor and establish custom bids for targeting criteria without needing to limit ad reach.

The feature doesn’t affect who can see your ad or where it’ll be placed, but you can monitor its performance for a selected placement, audience, or topics the display campaign runs on. So, you still need to go through the classic steps of targeting.

You can then use the information you get through this feature in your subsequent Google Ads activities. For instance, the observation feature can show you that some audiences are also interested in another topic/keyword, one you completely missed. So, you can go to your AdWords profile and add it to your targeting to improve ad performance.

The feature is especially recommended for Search campaigns. If you have more experience with Google Ads, you can even try it with Display campaigns. Unfortunately, it’s not available for video.

Back to You

One of the worst feelings in the world for marketers is to create AdWords campaigns, give a good part of their budget to it, and then get lackluster results. It’s very frustrating, and unless you have a good understanding of how Google Ads work, it’s possible for you to experience it too.

But if you need extra assistance, we’re always up for a chat. Call Australian Internet Advertising today, and we’ll make sure your Google Ads always target the right audience.

Billy P.

About The Author

William Polson founded Australian Internet Advertising in 2013 and has over 12 years of experience immersed in Digital Marketing.

With an in-depth level of digital marketing knowledge, William has been sort after by and worked for, many large national brands including Subaru, Blooms The Chemist, and Nova 96.9.

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