Google Silently Introduces New Display Keywords Targeting Settings


Over the past week, Google’s been making a lot of announcements for its plans to enhance their display network at AdWeek and SMX East in New York City. Some of the more heralded news is that Google announced advertisers will soon have the ability to remarket to users across different devices and measure store visits as a result of their display ads. And while these announcements of future changes may have stolen the show in New York and advertisers have every reason to be excited of these coming soon, Google silently rolled out one subtle, but major, change into every live display campaign on AdWords by introducing Display Keyword Targeting Settings on the Display Network.

Google’s most recent change affects how display keywords target their ads on the Google Display network. Display keyword targeting is one of the oldest and simplest forms of targeting on the Google Display network but is still widely used by advertisers. Advertisers simply set up a list of keywords related to their business and Google would automatically serve their ads on sites related to those keywords AND to users likely interested in those keywords. A keyword targeted on the display network was a fast track to reaching a wide audience on the Google Display Network, but it gave advertisers little direct control on exactly where their ads were likely to show. Unlike search keywords, which allow for advertisers to target exactly which searches they show ads for with keyword match types, display keywords have no match type and often risked attracting poorly targeted traffic.

Google Updates

GDN’s new targeting feature, Display Keyword Targeting Settings, gives advertisers more control over exactly how their ads are targeted on the display network. Advertisers now have the choice to target just the content (sites, videos, and apps) that is relevant to their keywords or if they want also want to target the audience that is potentially interested in those keywords, even when they’re viewing other content. These new display keyword targeting settings are available within any ad group on the display network when setting up their targeting options.

Display Keywords

From this menu, advertisers can specify their display keyword targeting setting. Selecting “Audience” (defaulted) allows you to serve display ads to anyone potentially interested in your keywords, regardless of what type of site they’re currently on. Selecting “Content” will restrict your ads to exclusively serve on websites, apps, and videos that are contextually relevant to your keywords.

The option to restrict your display keywords to exclusively target related content on the Google Display network is new to advertisers and will match their display keywords to placements similarly to how Search with Display select campaigns target the display network. In most cases, this setting should help reduce the amount of spend wasted on poorly targeted ads. However, advertisers should be warned that the improved targeting comes at the cost of a much reduced reach on the display network – Google claims that using the “Content” setting only provides about 30% the reach as the defaulted “Audience” setting.

The new setting option is ideal for advertisers who had previously struggled on the display network or may have a limited budget for their display campaigns. Regardless of whether or not you’re an advanced display advertiser or just getting started, this new setting opens up a lot of opportunities for display advertisers big and small.

About the author:

Mark is a Senior Data Scientist at WordStream with a background in SEM, SEO, and Statistical Modeling. He was named the 14th Most Influential PPC Expert of 2016 by PPC Hero. You can follow him on TwitterLinkedIn, and Google +.

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Oct 04, 2016

Audience Keywords is the new name for KCT and Content Keywords is the new name for DSK, which is now launched. Thanks for bringing attention to this and clarifying!

Mark Irvine
Oct 05, 2016

Hi Mila,

Yes! These products were taken out of beta and made available to all advertisers now :)

Oct 05, 2016

Yes, it's awesome that DSK is finally available to all advertisers. I've been waiting for this for years.

However I am apprehensive of Audience Keywords being the recommended option. DSK has always worked much better than KCT for us, so I don't understand or agree with this.

Oct 05, 2016

This is the write article........thanku...

Oct 13, 2016

Great content

with Audience Setting tab good for Small Advertisers and Low Budget.

Roland Poulin
Oct 13, 2016

This is a game changer. Audience focus contextual targeting for display ads sounds like a great way to uncover sub-niches for your offerings within unknown marketplaces.

Oct 14, 2016

Very useful feature for new advertisers. Nice explain.

diego kandinski
Oct 17, 2016

I have failed miserably in my last display campaign. It is getting very complicated.

Oct 19, 2016

Very useful info thank you........

Nov 02, 2016

Is it possible to change the targeting, from Audience to Content (or vice versa) after the fact?

Mark Irvine
Nov 03, 2016

Hi John!

Yes, advertisers can switch between these settings freely

arba travel
Dec 29, 2016

OMG! Nice features!

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