In the world of pay per click advertising, there are many different targeting options available that are unique ways for advertisers to reach their target audience.

Through platforms such as Google Ads, Microsoft Ads, and others, we can send targeted messages to users based on:

  • Your search behavior.
  • Content you are currently viewing.
  • Behaviors they exhibited.
  • And more.

This chapter explains the individual targeting options for search, ad and remarketing campaigns and how they can be used for customer loyalty.

Let's start with the most common targeting: Search.

Find targeting

Search campaigns are a powerful strategy for marketers that can help you reach users when they are actively searching for information.

By placing an ad on a search engine results page (SERP), you can answer the user's query and potentially influence them when making a purchase.


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How do you appear on these SERPs?

By bidding on keywords.


Keywords are expressions that advertisers use to tell platforms like Google and Bing which searches we want to be displayed for.

When someone goes to Google and types in "red shoes", Google will scan your account to see if your account contains the keyword "red shoes".

If you do this, you may appear for inquiry. If not, your ad won't appear.

There are many other factors that can affect whether your ads will show for a particular query, such as: B. Keyword match types, negative keywords, and your keyword bids. However, this is a topic for another chapter.

Dynamic search ads

The second type of targeting for search is called Dynamic Search Ads, or DSA.

DSA campaigns are relatively new to the PPC playground and a move away from keyword targeting.

Instead of providing the platforms with a list of keywords, you provide them with your website and the engines will match user requests related to the content of your website.

A complete guide to PPC ad targeting options

You can allow the platform to scan all pages, some pages, or specify lists of pages that it can display. However, the entire ad service is determined by the content of your website.


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Dynamic Search Ads are a great tool if you want to expand the reach of your current search campaigns as they are designed to help advertisers find relevant searches that have not yet been bid in their account.


The targeting in the search advertising network is rounded off by the target groups.

There are several different types of audiences you can use in your search, from remarketing to in-market to life events, which are covered in the following sections. However, these can help narrow your focus on the search.

When you add an audience to a search campaign, your ads will only be targeted to people who are searching for keywords that you are targeting or that you match through DSA, but that also match that audience.

These audience levels allow you to create a custom experience for this list of users as compared to all other users by creating a separate campaign, adjusting the ad copy, setting new bids, and more.

Show targeting

Display campaigns on the Google Display Network (GDN) offer a few different targeting options, but two main categories: content and audience.

Contextual (content) targeting means that your targeting options focus on the content of the page or website.

If you choose contextual targeting, you are telling Google that you want to appear on websites with content that is relevant to you.

If you choose to target audience, you are telling Google that you want to be shown to people who display the behavior you identify as important, regardless of what content they are viewing.

The following list of GDN targeting options is from narrowest to broadest in order of reach.

Contextual targeting

Placement targeting

Placement targeting is the closest targeting in the GDN.

With placement targeting, advertisers provide Google with a list of specific websites on which to show their ads.

In order for your ad to appear, the website must choose Google's advertising network, AdSense.

Keyword targeting

Keywords are also a potential targeting option for the Google Display Network, but they work differently than they do with search.

For the GDN, keywords do not use match types and work like a broad match when searching.


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Advertisers provide Google with a list of keywords. Google then looks for content that loosely matches the keywords and then displays ads related to that content.


Topics are the third and final contextual goal option and have the largest reach of the contextual goals.

Topic targeting allows advertisers to choose topics from a list that Google created to group websites and placements that are relevant to the topic.

Topics range from gardening and business software to extreme sports and medical research.

There are many high-level categories, most with multiple sub-categories, so you can find the exact type of content you want to appear next to.

A complete guide to PPC ad targeting options

Addressing target groups

On the market

In-market audiences are very similar to topic targeting, but are more of a predefined audience than Google's contextual audiences.


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These audiences are groups of users that Google believes are actively looking for a particular product or service, or are “in the market”.

The lists of in-market audiences are searchable in the same way as topics, and many audiences have topics similar to the topic list.

A complete guide to PPC ad targeting options

Until recently, in-market audiences were exclusive to the Display Network, but both Google and Microsoft Ads offer advertisers the ability to include these lists in search campaigns.


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Adding this layer can help narrow the focus to those users who have shown research behavior in addition to performing the search.

Life events

You can use life events to target users who have indicators of important life events.

These have been around for a while, and the list is longer than it was a few years ago.

A complete guide to PPC ad targeting options

Detailed demographic data

A complete guide to PPC ad targeting options

Similar to life events, detailed demographics let you target users based on information that Google suspects or inferred, such as: B. Parental status, marital status, educational level and home ownership status.


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Custom audiences

Custom audiences are one of the newest audiences on the GDN.

These lists allow advertisers to use keywords and URLs to create an audience based on products and services that your ideal audience is actively researching.

Although you add keywords like contextual targeting, Google Ads uses these keywords to find users who are likely to be interested in those keywords.

Google also often provides its own list of auto-generated custom audiences, which is created by reviewing other aspects of your account.

These are located just above the Custom Intent section in the user interface. If you're struggling to find your own, try one of these from the list.

A complete guide to PPC ad targeting options

This type of targeting is well suited for reaching users who you cannot identify in the in-market lists, or when you need to narrow the focus a little further than the in-market audiences offer.


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Affinity audience

Affinity audience has the largest reach of display network targeting. They were originally intended to imitate the television audience.

These lists are groups of people who may have an affinity for a certain industry or for certain things like “Beauty Mavens” or “Social Media Enthusiasts”.

These audiences are best used when trying to reach a very large group of people for actions like branding or high-level calls to action.

Similar to custom audiences, you can also create your own custom affinity lists by adding keywords and URLs to create custom topics.

A complete guide to PPC ad targeting options

Similar target groups

Similar audiences are the final type of audience target and a unique option. Similar audiences are a function of your remarketing audiences.


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Google regularly reviews user profiles on a specific remarketing list to look for patterns.

When a pattern is recognized, Google creates a similar audience or list of users who behave similarly to the users on your remarketing list.

You can then apply this list to your campaigns as a sole target or as a modifier layer like any other list.

If Google can't see a user pattern on a remarketing list because the list is either too small or too big, it won't create a similar audience.

To increase the likelihood that Google will create similar audiences on your account, it is important to create remarketing lists with meaningful segmentation to increase the likelihood of creating a meaningful pattern.


Remarketing is a way to get in touch with users you've come into contact with before.

There are many ways to compile these lists and use them in our PPC accounts.

Let's start with the most common method: pixel remarketing.


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Remarketing of pixel target groups

A remarketing pixel is a small snippet of code on your website that creates cookies for users who visit your page.

This cookie allows advertisers to create lists of users who should be redirected to ad platforms.

In addition, we can create criteria for these lists that only contain a certain subset of our target audience.

A very common list created is a converter list, meaning anyone who has made a purchase through your ecommerce website or submitted a lead on your Lead Gen website.

This list can then be used as a target audience for a campaign or as an exclusion. This means that you don't want these users to see your ad, even if they match all of the other target criteria for a campaign.

Customer uploads

Another type of remarketing list is a customer upload or list of customer emails that you import into Google, Bing, or Yahoo.

The ad platforms then match the e-mail addresses that you have given the users of your e-mail provider and allow you to address them specifically.


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This type of list is great when you want to realign users in your CRM or those who may not have been cooked with your Pixel.

Google Analytics import

In Google Ads, we can link our Google Analytics and Google Ads accounts and import audiences based on Google Analytics metrics.

Google Analytics has much more powerful audience criteria that we can use to use website engagement, sequencing, and other indicators to create our lists.

Unfortunately, this type of remarketing audience is only available for Google Ads.

A complete guide to PPC ad targeting options

Remarketing audiences can be applied to campaigns as the sole user group or as a bid modifier level, now called observation.


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They can also be applied to all types of campaigns on a given network, e.g. B. on search and dynamic search ads on the search advertising network.


Demographic targeting can be a great way to gradually influence performance or ensure that you reach your ideal audience.

These targeting levels are determined by information given to the channels when they are profiled, as well as by the behavior of the user.

Overall, these targeting options are best used as incremental layers to modify the other targeting options listed above, rather than using them alone.

Age gender

Demographic information is available for targeting in all campaign types in Google Ads and Microsoft Ads. Both channels support bid modifiers for the user's age and gender.

These targeting options allow you to see the performance of your ads for a specific group of users and then adjust the bid modifiers up or down to increase or decrease your bids for those groups of users.

Each of these targeting options are at the ad group level and can be adjusted in the Settings tab in Bing or the Demographics section in Google Ads.

A complete guide to PPC ad targeting options

Household income

Google Ads offers US residents an additional demographic leverage: household income.


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The data for these groups is determined by the location's average household income. So it's not a perfect science. However, this can be an important lever when trying to target users based on their income.

This targeting option is located in the "Demographics" area of ​​the Google Ads interface and can be adjusted in a similar way to the "Age" and "Gender" segments.

A complete guide to PPC ad targeting options

Parental status

After all, Google has reserved a specific demographic target for display campaigns: parental status.


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Similar to the other goals, parental status is at the ad group level and allows you to adjust your bids with modifiers based on your targeting preferences or performance.

A complete guide to PPC ad targeting options

There are many targeting options for PPC campaigns, each with its strengths, weaknesses, and use cases.

I recommend finding additional information on best practices for each targeting option and testing them on your account.


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