Quick & Dirty Guide to Google AdWords Auto Targets


Recently we’ve created a series of guides on various parts of the AdWords interface designed to help advertisers better understand all of the features and functionality available to them within AdWords, including:

In this post, we’ll focus on another area within the AdWords interface: the Auto Targets tab.

What Is the Google AdWords Auto Targets Tab?

Many people new to AdWords wonder what this tab even is – in fact the tab is irrelevant for some AdWords advertisers. The auto targets tab is a component of Google’s product listing ads. If you sell e-commerce products, you likely (and should) have a Google Merchant account. (As we mentioned in our guide to product extensions, two great resources on optimizing your Google Merchant feed are this video from our friends at PPC Hero and this tutorial from Practical E-Commerce). Product listing ads pull from that merchant feed, and the auto targets tab is your opportunity to get a more granular look at the performance of your product listing ad groupings, and also affords you the opportunity to manage bids on different products and product groupings.

What Can I Do in the Auto Targets Tab?

Again the auto targets tab is basically a dashboard to help you analyze and optimize the performance of your product listing ads. Once you’ve optimized your Google Merchant feed and your product extension ads, the next step is to analyze the performance of the different groups and manage bids accordingly. This is where your auto targets tab comes in:

Auto Targets Tab

As with keyword, ad, and ad group level views you can now look at the performance of each of these product listing ads and optimize performance by:

  • Defining specific Max CPC bids for different product listings (increasing bids on ads that perform well, decreasing bids on ads that perform poorly, etc.).
  • Pausing or deleting product listings that just aren’t efficient.
  • Restructuring elements of your product listing campaign based on feedback within your account.

From this screen you can also incorporate new product targets based on product target fields from your Google Merchant account.

As with any component of your AdWords campaign, it’s important to measure performance and make adjustments accordingly, so if you’re an e-commerce advertiser doing a lot of volume via your product listing ads, understanding the auto targets tab and being able to optimize your listings based on actual data is key.

Find out how you're REALLY doing in AdWords!

Watch the video below on our Free AdWords Grader:

Visit the AdWords Grader.


Nate Schubert
May 25, 2012

I have a Google Merchant Center product feed of about 350 individual products, most of which we resell and are not authorized to advertise via Paid Search. I have about 90 software products and 12 hardware products that we currently offer that I WOULD like to include in Product Listing Ads on AdWords. Unfortunately, the attribute options are very limited and all are far too general. I want to have one Ad Group that Targets ONE product, for example.How can I do this? Can I somehow set a custom attribute for item number, or should I use the adwords_groupings or adwords_labels attribute and modify my data feed to include one of those two columns, and just set each attribute individually for the one's I want to include? What do you think? I have been looking everywhere for an answer on this.

Jan 31, 2013

Thanks a lot, now I'm helping my collegue with AdWords in the PPC ads department,  it's quite new and still a lot to learn, so, I'm reading your articles and they are really helpful. Thanks Tom!

Leave a comment