Google Topic & Interest Targeting… It’s Kind of a Big Deal

By Nelson Hudspeth | Feb 15, 2013
More Articles by Nelson


Online marketers are constantly clamoring for more accurate audience segmentation within their Google Display Network campaigns. This “hyper-segmentation” is something that Facebook has been able to do very well for years, thanks to its massive aggregation of information in regards to every aspect of your digital life. Have no fear though fellow marketers; Google has a few tricks up its sleeve when it comes to audience segmentation. You could make the argument that they’re kind of a big deal…

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Interest Categories vs. Topic Targeting

Before we get into what each one is, let’s clear up how they differ… Topic targeting places ads on pages that are more contextually relevant to the overall “topic”. Interest categories allow you to reach people who have demonstrated specific interests, regardless of whether the ad you are serving is contextually relevant to the page they’re currently on. For more information on how Google determines a particular user’s interests take a look here.

Topic Targeting

Within the Google Display Network’s targeting tools, you have the ability to target placements by topic. Topic targeting means that Google will scan the content of each page and assign it a particular topic. When setting up your campaign, you choose from a pre-existing list of topics, things like travel, entertainment, or fitness and Google will begin showing your ads on groups of quality sites relating to that topic. These broad topics can be drilled down to become much more specific, as you can see below:

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This targeting method will allow you to view campaign statistics by individual topic, letting you adjust Max. CPC per topic up or down depending on performance. Topic targeting is a great way to get relevant exposure on the Google Display Network, without needing to target these sites one by one. Topic targeting is found in under the Display Network tab of your account.

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Interest Targeting

Within the Google Display Network targeting tools, you also have the ability to target placements by interest. With interest categories, you’re targeting groups of people whose online behaviors & patterns show that they share a common interest, like cars or sports. Once you designate the categories you’re interested in targeting, you can show them relevant ads wherever they are online. The user doesn’t necessarily have to be looking at a page that’s contextually similar to your ad thanks to the cookied information that was shared with Google, placing them in specific interest groups. Just like with topics, the broader interests can be drilled down to be much more specific:

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Are Topics & Interests Worth It?

While targeting users through Google Display Network is not as user friendly or streamlined as it is on Facebook, if leveraged properly, it will help qualify your traffic/conversions, improving overall campaign performance.  With over 1,600 pre-defined topics & interest categories, the sky is the targeting limit!

Do you have any targeting success or horror stories to share? Drop a line in the comments below or find me on twitter @Nhudspeth4 to continue to conversation!

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