Placement Targeting 101: The Basics

By Sarah Bonner | May 10, 2013
More Articles by Sarah

As you may have learned in my last blog post about Display Targeting Methods, there are multiple ways to target ads in Google’s Display Network. Each type of targeting needs to be done a different way. Today we’ll get more into placements. Placements are locations on the Google Display Network where ads can appear. It can be an entire website, a specific page on a website, an individual ad unit, a mobile phone app, and many more. Placement targeting can be beneficial to any account because, if done correctly, can show ads to searchers who are already interested in what you are selling.

Placement Targeting

Placement targeting is choosing specific or relevant sites where you would like to show your ad. In the example above, the Volkswagen Jetta Car and Driver page was specifically chosen to show the Volkswagen Jetta ad, because they are so closely related. The main goal of placement targeting is to show your ad where interested parties may be looking. Someone who is looking up the specifics of a Jetta is probably starting the buying process for a new car, so they could be interested in the Volkswagen promotion!

Types of Placements

There are two types of placements: automatic and managed. Automatic placements can be found in every Display Network campaign, letting you know where your ads were specifically shown. For example, if you choose to target topics, Google places your ad on sites that are relevant to your topics list. You can also add a contextual keyword list, but that will further limit clicks and impressions. Monitor these metrics closely to make sure you’re getting the results you want. If your numbers are low (or high) it could be due to how you’ve chosen to target your placements. You may want to keep different targeting methods in separate campaigns so you don’t limit yourself too much, and can also more easily budget and report on performance for each method. With automatic placements, advertisers cannot bid on individual placements.

If a particular website or page is performing well as an automatic placement, add that website as a managed placement. By adding the website as a managed placement, advertisers can set individual placement bids and make sure that their ad continues to show on that specific page.  Keywords are not required for this type of placement targeting. If you know already what websites your target customers visit, add those pages as managed placements.  For example, if you are selling books, you may choose to select a popular book review blog as a placement. If you aren’t sure which placements to choose, Google’s Placement Tool provides insight into what placements are relevant to your ads. Find the tool under the “Tools and Analysis” menu in your AdWords account.

Monitoring Placement Performance

When using placement targeting ads, you always want your ad to be highly relevant to the page it is showing on. It is important to monitor placement locations and performance to be sure the ads are not showing up in undesirable locations. When your ad shows up on pages that you consider irrelevant, you can add the placement as exclusion. That will stop your ad from showing on that page, much like negative keywords in the Search Network.  If you are having other issues with your placements, try running a placement diagnosis to check your placements.

How to Add Placements

To add new placements or make changes to your current placements, go to the Display Network tab and select placements from the targeting options. To see what you already have running in terms of managed placements, automatic placements, or exclusions, simply click the “+” to the left of each heading to expand them out.


To add a new managed placement, select the green Change display targeting button, choose the ad group you want to add placements to and you will see this box:


You can search for ideas with the Placement Tool, or add one or more managed placements. Don’t be afraid to click around and experiment with different targeting methods!

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