Five ways to target ads on Google that don’t involve keywords Search Engine Watch


Google is synonymous with search, but there are many different ad types available to Google advertisers that don’t require keyword targeting at all.

In fact, Google Ads can be a particularly powerful tool for marketers who want to test different digital ad types without the complexity of managing multiple publishers. While Google isn’t quite a one-stop-shop for all digital advertising, it comes close.

So, if you want to expand your digital advertising strategy beyond keyword targeting, but aren’t ready to venture beyond Google, here are some tactics you can test from within your Google Ads account.

Display ads

Google’s display network (GDN) is comprised of over two million websites and reaches 90% of global internet users. Display ads come in a variety of flavors, but for the purpose of categorization, when I refer to display ads, I mean banners and text ads (as opposed to video ads) which run on websites such as blogs, YouTube and within apps.

Display ad placement examples—source: Google Ads

Google’s display network is vast and gives advertisers a lot of options when it comes to ad formats. These include:

  • Animated and nonanimated image ads
  • AMP HTML (mobile-optimized) ads
  • HTML5 ads
  • Responsive image ads
  • Text ads
  • Video ads (I’ll address these separately)

You can find a complete list of ad specifications here.

Display ads can be targeted in a variety of ways including (but not limited to) keywords. However, keep in mind that keyword targeting on display isn’t the same as keyword targeting on search.

Display advertising is based on context, so ads don’t appear based on a user’s search query, but show up passively beside content that is contextually relevant to an advertiser’s specified keywords. That’s why it’s helpful to use targeting criteria that focus on topics, interests, and demographics (in addition to or instead of keywords).

using criteria targeting to target ads on Google without keywords
Image Source: Google Ads

Display ads can also be targeted…


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