Understanding Your Targeting Options For a Better AdWords Campaign

Increasingly, digital marketing in general and Google AdWords in particular is becoming an indispensable part of growing audience awareness about your brand and business. If you can reach interested potential customers with an effective message on Google and its millions of partner website, you have taken a significant step toward growing your web clicks and revenue.

To get to that point, of course, you have to know exactly how to leverage the platform for maximum success. That includes a broad understanding of the various options through which you can specify and target your audience. Keep reading for a more comprehensive overview of your Google AdWords targeting options.

Google Search Ads

With 3.5 billion searches per day, Google is the single most popular website across the world. Every minute, millions of internet users ask questions, browse general information, and research potential purchases. Naturally, the advertising and targeting options on Google's search results pages are immense:

  • Keyword Targeting. The most popular type of targeting on Google is simply showing your ad each time a member of your audience searches for a term you specify. You might, for example, bid for your ad to appear anytime a user searches for 'Sydney women's fashion'. Through Google's Keyword Planner tool, you can find effective keywords that strike the balance between frequent searches and high bids.
  • Location Targeting. Keywords are the basis for every search-based advertising campaign. Beyond that, you can limit the specific geographic location within which your ad will appear. To stay with the above example, a fashion boutique in Sydney will probably find searches from England or even Western Australia irrelevant. Through location targeting, you can keep your advertising campaign and budget focused.
  • Language Targeting. This variable is another option to limit your keyword targeting only to relevant industries. The education industry, for instance, will probably prefer English natives as their audience. Google uses each user's browser setting to specify exactly which languages your ad should be shown in.
  • Device Targeting. Like the rest of the internet, Google is increasingly reliant on mobile searches for its traffic. In fact, 60 per cent of searches on the platform now occur from a mobile device. Through this option, you can get as specific as targeting only users of specific mobile devices (such as iPhone or Android), which can be essential especially in the technology industry.

Through these options, you can set up a search campaign designed to target only the most relevant audiences for you. With effective messaging, you will be able to unfold Google's immense traffic and potential for digital marketing. But of course, that potential doesn't end with search. Instead, you can also take advantage of the platform's vast display network.

Google Display Ads

Through the years, Google has partnered with more than 2 million websites across the world to show display and banner ads. The partnership is simple: websites that are part of Google's Display Network show ads placed through AdWords, in exchange for a small portion of the revenue Google makes from its advertisers.

Placing ads on the Display Network has the potential to reach more than 90% of all global internet users. But of course, especially for Sydney businesses, narrowing down that vast range is essential for both budget and focus. These are the targeting options that can get you there:

  • Keyword Targeting. Similar to the search option above, keyword targeting on the Display Network has to start with finding the words and phrases most relevant to your audience. AdWords then shows your display ads on websites that include the words or phrases you have specified. 
  • Topic Targeting. Whereas keyword targeting is very specific, topic targeting can be more broad. Google categorizes each website in its Display Network into one or more distinct topics that the content seems to cover. Specify the topic most relevant to you, and the platform automatically matches your ads to related websites.
  • Placement Targeting. The most distinct targeting option for Display Ads, this method only places your ads on websites you have specified. If you know that your audience often frequents one or two websites within your industry, this option allows you to reach them exactly and only on these websites.

Of course, you can also narrow down your targeting approach with the same secondary methods mentioned above. AdWords allows advertisers to narrow down their display placements only to distinct geographic areas, languages, and devices. The result is a more targeted approach to improve the focus of your campaigns.

Advanced Targeting Categories

Finally, don't underestimate your opportunity to go beyond the above targeting methods. Keyword, topic, and placement targeting are relatively basic. But as it turns out, they're far from your only options.

  • Remarketing. Google allows you to specifically target search or display ads to recent web visitors. Research shows that 96 per cent of your web visitors are not yet ready to buy. Through retargeting ads, you can keep your brand in your visitors' mind as they leave your site, making sure that when they're ready, they'll remember you as an option.
  • Custom Lists. These function similarly to remarketing ads, but with a twist. Google allows advertisers to upload customer and prospect lists, and automatically matches email addresses to Google accounts. You can then show search or display ads either only to contacts you have uploaded, or to users who share similar common characteristics with these contacts.

The targeting options for Google AdWords are immense. But as you decide between keyword or topic targeting, don't lose track of some more advanced options, as well. If your goal is to make the most of your budget, they might just be the best possible fit for your needs.

Building a Better AdWords Campaign

You can read more about each of the above targeting options on Google's internal overview page. The key, of course, is finding one or more options that match ideally with your target audience. That necessitates thorough audience research, which should include both demographics and online behaviors.

Ideally, you can define your target audience all the way down from location to the device they use to browse the internet and even the websites they probably visit. With that information in hand, you can choose your targeting option(s) in a way that makes the most out of your budget and helps to maximize your digital marketing success.


Ideally, you should be accross multiple marketing channels so that you gain optimum exposure. If you liked our blog about Adwords and want to learn more about optimising for Google Organic Search, then check out our latest SEO eBook:

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