Targeting in Google Ads – How to Reach and Convert Customers

Targeting gives you the ability to show your ads to reach people with specific interests – namely, people who are interested in you products and services – and show them relevant ads.

Online advertising is about how to get the right messages in front of the right people, at the precise moment.

To decide on your targeting ask yourself:

  1. WHO is the target audience? 
  2. WHERE are they online?
  3. WHAT are they interested in?

Google Ads offers different ways of targeting, which we’ll go over in more detail later. For now, here’s a look at the choices that you have with online ads that can make your marketing campaigns even more targeted: 

Display Targeting Info-graphic​

A list of targeting on the Google Display Network. 

Display Network Targeting AdWords Google Ads Infographic

Type of Targeting

  • Keywords: Words or phrases relevant to your products and services, which are used to show your ads when customers search for those terms or visit relevant websites.

    Using keywords based on what people are searching for, it is possible to target what people are looking for.. When people search for words like your keywords on Google or partner sites, you can target your ads within these specific search results.a

  • Ad network & placement: Show your ads on Google search results pages and websites that are part of the Google Search and Display Networks.
  • Age, location and language: Choose the age, geographic location and language of your customers.
  • Days, times and frequency: Show your ads during certain hours or days of the week and determine how often your ads appear.
  • Devices: Your ads can appear on all types of devices and you can fine-tune which devices your ads appear on and when.
Campaign settings let you filter and refine the targeting options. To learn more check out this article Optimal Google Ads Settings

Campaign settings control aspects such as budgets, type of campaign, bid strategy, network, delivery method, ad  rotation, language, location and more.

The settings above are the account level settings. 

Audience targeting

Audience  targeting focuses on “WHO” is in your target audience. Audience targeting helps you identify, re-engage, and expand your audience online. You can target those who actively intend to buy your services and products, as well as personalize your ads with relevant messages.

  • Demographics: Target your ads based on how well your products and services trend with users in certain locations, ages, genders and device types. Demographic targeting allows you to reach a specific set of potential customers who are likely to be within a particular age range, gender, parental status, or household income.
  • Affinity: Advertisers with TV campaigns can extend a campaign online and reach an audience using Google Search or the Display Network.
  • In-market: Show ads to users who have been searching for products and services like yours. These users may be looking to make a purchase, or have previously made a purchase and could still be interested enough to interact with your ads.
  • Custom intent: Choose words or phrases related to the people that are most likely to engage with your site and make purchases by using “custom intent audiences”. In addition to keywords, custom intent audiences lets you add URLs for websites, apps, or YouTube content related to your audience’s interests.
  • Similar audiences: Expand your audience by targeting users with interests related to the users in your remarketing lists. These users aren’t searching for your products or services directly, but their related interests may lead them to interacting with your ads.
  • Display Remarketing: Target users that have already interacted with your ads, website or app so that they’ll see your ads more often. These users can be in any stage of conversion, as long as they’ve visited your site or clicked on your ad before. These users may even return to complete a purchase.

Content Targeting

  • Topics: Target one ad to multiple pages about certain topics at once. Topic targeting lets you reach a broad range of pages on the Display Network. Google Ads analyses web content and considers factors such as text, language, link structure and page structure. It then determines the central themes of each web page and targets ads based on your topic selections.
  • Placement: Target websites on the Display Network that your customers visit. If you select this type of targeting, Google Ads will only look at your chosen sites (managed placements) when searching for relevant sites. Unlike contextual targeting (automatic placements), placement targeting doesn’t require keywords. A placement might be an entire website or a subset of a website.
  • Content keywords: Choose words that are relevant to your product or service to target users making searches using those same terms. You can tailor a set of keywords to manually reach certain demographics or meet specific goals. For instance, you can change your keywords to reflect seasonal interests or make the most of a sale.
  • Display expansion for search: Let Google Ads find users for you with a combination of automated bidding and smart targeting. Display expansion works for both Search and Display campaigns, targeting high-performance moments for the best results.

Location Targeting

Location targeting focuses on “WHERE” your audience is, either in the physical world or online. 

Physical location targeting is achieved by location and device targeting, while targeting people online where they are is done using options such as contextual or topic targeting.

Location Settings Google Ads

Device Targeting

  • Computers: Target users viewing content on their desktop and laptop computers with a minimum screen size of seven inches.
  • Mobile: Target users on smartphones.
  • Tablet: Target users on mobile devices that don’t necessarily include phones.
  • TV screens: Target users on devices that stream TV content such as smart TVs, gaming consoles and connected devices like Chromecast. TV screen targeting is for video campaigns only. 


Google Ads (formerly AdWords) has various targeting options. These targeting options are combined to filter the audience to reach your target market and ideal prospect at different stages of the marketing funnel- using the various campaign objectives. You can configure the targeting settings within each campaign –  as well as select campaign types and objectives that best match the ways to reach prospective customers. You can use conversion tracking and brand metrics to measure success and optimise your account. 

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