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An Introduction To Google's Placement Targeting

This column has primarily focused on paid search, but for the last few weeks, we’ve discussed contextual targeting using the engines. Today we’re going to dive into another non-search triggered product that Google offers, display targeting.

Placement targeting, like content targeting allows you to access the largest ad network on the web, the Google display network (GDN), which reaches over 70% of the global internet audience and serves between six and seven billion ads each day. You can also go beyond three line text ads as image, flash and video ads are accepted on many sites. However, unlike content targeting, which uses contextual algorithms to marry keyword filled ad groups with relevant content, placement targeting works like almost every other modern media vehicle (television, radio, print, etc.) where advertisers can choose the placements (in this case, website placements) where they want to have their ads viewed.

Here’s the Google elevator pitch on this ad network:

From the busiest news and video sites to the most passionate arts and crafts websites, you can connect with your ideal customers easily with the Google Display Network. Your text, image, rich media, and video ads can appear across YouTube, Google properties such as Google Finance, Gmail, Google Maps, Blogger, as well as over one million Web, video, gaming, and mobile display partners.

The managed placements campaign setting inside AdWords lets you bypass keyword contextual targeting (automatic placements) and use the placement targeting option to pick the sites and sections to place your ads. There are a few different pricing models but just know that you can bid with MAX CPCs and pay at a cost-per-click basis just as with search.

The Placement Tool

Once you decide to manage your placements yourself, you’ll be brought to the placement tool. Here, Google offers many different ways to slice and dice the inventory opportunities on their publisher partners. You can browse by category and subcategory, for example, Travel & Adventure Travel. You can also input keywords and topics which the system will attempt to match up with relevant placements. Another option is to target specific demographic segments as some publishers, though not all, may have that information on their users.

What if you know you want to advertise at a certain site? To check if that site is part of the Google display network, choose the list urls option and just input any web addresses you have your eye on.


Pick your sites, choose your bids, upload your ads and you’re done. You now have access to the auctions of almost 200 billion ads per month. Placement targeting has become a bigger part of Google’s business as the web (and thus ad inventory) is growing at a faster rate than search inventory. They’ve been able to offer some really great tools to support this channel but it’s probably just the tip of the iceberg.

Next week, I’ll take you step by step on creating your first placement targeting campaign.

PPC Academy is a comprehensive, one-year search advertising course from beginning to end. Starting with the basics, PPC Academy progressively explores all of the varied facets of paid search, and the tactics needed to succeed and become an advanced paid search marketer.

Opinions expressed in this article are those of the guest author and not necessarily Search Engine Land. Staff authors are listed here.

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