How to Use Google Ads Targeting

Google ads can be optimised to improve ROI by focusing their targeting. A range of targeting options are available. These include:

  • Keyword targeting (covered in another video)
  • Device targeting. Targeting by mobile, tablet or desktop
  • Location targeting. Targeting by country or region
  • Ad scheduling. Bid different amounts at different times of day
  • Audience targeting.  Advertise to searchers based on their behaviour and interests
  • Network targeting. 

Advertisers may exclude specific targets entirely or use a bid adjustment to bid less for a particular segment. For example, if you find that people from London on average convert 10% less well than other customers, you could set a bid adjustment of 90% to only bid 90% of the standard bid for these customers.

Device Targeting

Bid adjustments are available for tablets, mobile phones and desktop computers.

Note: For Display and Video campaigns, you can target device types, operating systems, device models and ad inventory (places where publishers allow ads to run), operators and wireless networks. Some of these options are not available for other campaign types.

Bid adjustments are available for:

  • Computers: Desktop or laptop with screens larger than 7″ diagonal.
  • Mobile: Hand-held devices, including phones.
  • Tablet: Tablets are mobile devices, excluding phones
  • TV screens. Devices that stream TV content, e.g. smart TVs, gaming consoles and connected devices like Chromecast. Only available for Display and Video campaigns.
  • Networks and Audiences. Choose targeting signals to optimise your display campaigns

Location targeting

Location targeting allows ads to be served in the geographic locations of your choice.

Options include:

  • Countries
  • Areas within a country
  • Radius around a location
  • Location groups. These can include places of interest, your business locations or tiered demographics.

Ad scheduling

Advertisers can specify certain hours or days of the week when they want ads to appear. They can also set bid adjustments to increase or decrease bids for specific days and times. For example, you may want your ad to show whenever a customer searches online, perhaps only on certain days or during the working day when someone is available to answer customer queries.

By default, campaigns show all the time.

Note: Ad scheduling is incompatible with Smart Shopping campaigns or App campaigns.

Audience targeting

Audience segment targeting allows you to reach people based on who they are, their interests and habits, what they are researching or their interactions with your business. Targeting signals can help your campaign meet its goals.

When you target specific types of people, you can aim to get your ads seen by a particular audience. Examples include people who have visited your site or are likely to be interested in your products or demographics (e.g. parents).

Note: for Display ads, the audience targeting will determine the content sites on which the ads are shown.



Reach is the number of possible impressions estimated to be available given your targeting settings. Generally, more specific targeting narrows the potential reach of your ads.

‘Targeting’ and ‘Observation’ settings

The settings Targeting and Observation determine the reach of your ads.

  • Targeting. This setting sets the target audience for your ads
  • Observation. This option does not narrow your audience but will show the performance of selected audiences. If a specific audience performs well, you may wish to move to actively target it.

Optimised targeting

Optimised targeting allows google to select the audiences it thinks are most likely to convert within your campaign goals. When you use optimised targeting, you can optionally provide targeting signals like keywords or audiences. Google uses these signals to find similar criteria to serve your ads on.

Type of Audience

There are several audience segment types to use for targeting in your campaigns:


Segments based on users’ habits and interests.

Custom segments

User-defined segments based on a range of criteria

Detailed Demographics

Segments based on long-term life facts.

Life Events

Segments of users who are at important life milestones.


Reach users based on purchasing behaviour.

Your data segments

Target users that have interacted with your business. Options are:

  • Website and app visitors. Users who have visited your website and/or apps.
  • Customer Match. Target existing customers based on your customer data.
  • Similar segments. Target new users who are similar to your website visitors or existing customers.

Note: Not all audience types are available to all campaign types

Network targeting

Network targeting indicates where you want your ad to appear based on the chosen campaign type. For example, Search ads can appear on Google search sites and non-Google partner search sites (such as the Guardian) that partner with Google to show search ads.

For Display Ads, ads show on the Google display network of 3rd party sites. Advertisers can allow Google to select the sites where ads will serve or specify specific target sites.



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