At the end of last month Google added an another way to contextually target ads on the Display Network, with the addition of ‘topics’.

Until now Google used advertisers specified keywords to contextually target ads, by finding web pages on the Display Network that mentioned any of keywords found in the ad group and showing the ads alongside that content.

For instance, if an advertiser had the keyword “computers“ in an ad group and that keyword was mentioned in an article on a web page about beauty, then the ad would still appear even though that page wouldn’t be classified under the ‘Computer & Electronics’ topic.

However now Google has added the option to contextually target ads by choosing ‘topics’ and has a selection of over 1,750 topics and sub-topics to choose from.

By simply choosing to target ads by selecting a topic(s) advertisers will be able to show their ads to a broader audience across the Internet and more quickly and easily then selecting keywords.

Advertisers can also choose to use both topics and keywords in conjunction to cleverly target different types of audiences across the Display Network.

The topics option should be used to target a much broader audience on web pages that are related to a product / service and can help to increase brand awareness.

Keywords can then be added to an ad group to narrow the audience by only allowing ads to appear on web pages that mention chosen keywords ie. a specific product / service. This allows advertisers to create a text / image ad that is more targeted to those keywords and hopefully have a call-to-action that will attract clicks and sales.

For example if a company was selling Satellite Navigation systems then they could use contextual targeting on the Display Network as follows:

  • To reach the widest possible audience that may be interested in their product they could select to show a generic ad promoting their products on web pages in the ‘Computer & Electronics’ topic.
  • They could create a more specific ad and choose the ‘GPS and Navigation’ sub-topic.
  • Finally they could create an ad group and add keywords specific to one of their products and create an ad specifically promoting that product and a call to action to attract clicks and sales.

Topics and sub-topics can also be chosen to exclude web pages on the Display Network, to stop ads appearing on web pages that advertisers do not want their product or service to be associated with.

This new targeting option supports all of Google’s available ad formats and also bidding options, as well as still allowing URL-level reporting, so you can see which web pages are working best for your business and highlight ones that are not.