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    We can direct ads in Google Ads by audience and/or by content.

    contextual ad targeting

    We can call audience targeting behavioral targeting – it directly relates to our online behavior, based on which we are plugged into certain groups, to which ads are later targeted. 

    Content-based targeting is called contextual targeting. Contextual targeting depends on the content of the web pages we are on at any given time. “Content” refers to the pages where your ads could potentially be located. Google’s system analyzes the content of the pages you are on to determine their main theme. If you have selected such keywords and/or themes that coincide with the content of a given page then your ad will probably appear there. 

    Contextual targeting is divided into several types:

    • themes
    • destinations
    • keywords in the content


    “Topics” refers to pages with specific topics. Google Ads analyzes web content, taking into account text, language, link structure and page structure, among other factors. It then determines the main theme of each page and directs ads to those that match the themes we have chosen. We can use them for video campaigns and ad network campaigns. Unfortunately, I have not been able to find information on how many themes we can use, nor whether there is a specific list with all the currently available themes. However, when you look through them for yourself, you will notice that there are really a lot of them and there is a lot to choose from.

    Adding targeting to topics will increase our reach and will prove helpful when we don’t yet have a specific target audience or when we are just getting to know it. It’s much easier to determine the theme of our business and what we want to see our advertising next to than to create a whole persona we want to target. 

    Imagine that you offer moving services – it would be a good idea to display on sites where users are looking for houses/apartments for rent or planning to buy them. And if you don’t want your ad to display on sites with specific topics, you can also exclude those topics. It’s as simple as selecting the topics for ad targeting. 


    Target Places are locations – websites, channels on YT, mobile apps – where your ads from video and display campaigns can be displayed. As of recently, we can also use this option for Performance Max campaigns

    When targeting ads, I found it more common to exclude specific sites or locations. It is common practice to exclude targeting for all apps from destinations. This is argued by the high number of unintended clicks coming from apps. This can distort our later results and make it difficult to optimize the campaign.

    If we don’t offer products for children then he also recommends excluding YouTube channels, videos and children’s sites – often parents give their children their own phones, computer, tablets, etc. with a video on, using their Google account. If we do not want our ads to be displayed in such a situation – it is worth taking care of these exclusions. We can do the same with other types of content that we don’t like – just exclude them. 

    Luckily, we can exclude all apps at once by doing it from the Google Ads Editor under “Mobile app categories, Exclusions” or from the Google Ads panel: in the form, we click “Enter multiple destinations” and enter “mobileappcategory::69500” as the URL. Before 2018, you could exclude mobile apps from the campaign settings from the “content exclusions” tab. Nowadays, we can only do this in a YouTube live streamed video, embedded YouTube videos or video, which can also be helpful. 

    If we want to check where our ads are showing and work on that (I think this is the best place to start the “fun” of adding and excluding destinations), all we have to do is go to the “where ads are showing” tab in the Google Ads panel. Who would have thought 😉 . When our ads have been running for a while, we should have a lot of results here. We check for ourselves which ones convert best and which ones don’t and exclude or add targeting. I recommend focusing on inclusions. Small advertisers may benefit from the option to add targeting, but with larger advertisers, the game is not worth the candle.

    Remember, if you choose to target popular sites, YouTube or ad network videos or apps, getting impressions may require setting higher rates. 

    Keyword targeting 

    This works similarly to keyword on the search network Google Ads will search for relevant websites containing the keywords we added, as well as relevant audiences interested in those keywords. 

    Sometimes ads may appear in destinations seemingly unrelated to our keywords. Depending on your keyword settings, ads may display to audiences based on recent browsing history or other factors, rather than the content of the page just viewed. 

    Here we can also exclude keywords that do not resonate with our campaigns. We can use those phrases that we normally have excluded in the search network. We also have the option to add an exclusion list of keywords, which is the easiest way to exclude multiple phrases at once.

    Extension to search advertising network

    Another option that somehow “fell” into our bag of contextual targeting. We have this option only for campaigns on the search network. After enabling it, Google Ads will use the unspent budgets allocated for the search network in the ad network.

    I am quite skeptical about this option. The advantage of the ad network is the ability to interest the potential customer in the visual form of the ad, here it is taken away from us. We have a dry message from a search network ad thrown into a display format. 

    Google, however, promises us a lot, provided, of course, that we add this capability to our campaigns: “Search network campaigns with a separate budget on the search network and an extension to the ad network enabled can get up to 15% more conversions at a similar CPA as on the search network.” With rate setting and ad targeting remaining unchanged, the overall budget cap is also unchanged. Conversion cost is expected to be similar or lower, and ads will be created automatically. 

    Ad targeting works just like keyword targeting in display campaigns – ads will be displayed to potential customers who browse or search for similar products on different sites based on our keywords.

    Discover the possibilities of contextual ad targeting in Google Ads!

    Don’t miss the chance to reach the right people at the right time. Contact us today and we’ll help you realize the full potential of contextual ad targeting.

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    Absolutely worth using contextual targeting! If we have limited resources then at least use the option to exclude destinations. We can achieve really good results without spending colossal budgets. 

    And if you need help with the introduction of contextual targeting and its subsequent optimization then get back to our digital marketing agency, let’s certainly work out the best solution!

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    Aneta Siemieniak
    Aneta Siemieniak

    He has been involved in SEM for more than two years, constantly developing his knowledge and deepening his skills. She owes her very rapid growth to her independence and courage in managing client projects in the field of social media and search engine advertising. She has worked with brands such as E.ON and Vectra.