Using Google display ads to reach your targeted audience

Google display adsSeveral folks have asked us about display ads that seem to be targeted to their interests. “How did they put an ad tailored to me on an unrelated web page (or phone app or video)?”

Google Display Ads

The system that makes that possible is GDN (Google Display Network), and, more specifically Google’s contextual targeting tool. Actually, Google uses contextual targeting for Ads in various formats – text, video, display and rich media. Ads are “placed” (Google’s term) in one of two ways:

  1. Based on content. You are on a pet-centric website and an ad for flea collars is placed. In this case, the ads are not based on your current or past Google searches, but rather the content of the page you are viewing.
  2. Based on a user’s present or past search terms. You searched for “flea collars” so a flea collar display ad is placed. Keyword-based display ads can be placed in one or more of these four ways:
    1. Display ads can appear on Google search results pages based on searches being conducted at the moment. A user searches for “VW Golf TDI” and a display ad showing a used Golf VW TDI appears within the search results.
    2. Display ads can appear on Google search results pages based on searches conducted in the past. A user who searched for “VW Golf TDI” in the past searches for “boys mittens” and the VW ad appears in the results.
    3. Display ads can appear on any web page, phone app or video in Google’s display ad network, but only on contextually relevant pages. A user who searched for “VW Golf TDI” in the past is on a car-centric web page in the Google display ad network and the VW ad appears.
    4. Display ads can appear on any web page in Google’s display ad network, regardless of page content. A user who searched for “VW Golf TDI” in the past is on a weather forecast website and the VW ad appears.

Advertisers can choose where they want their ads to appear within the GDN, including Gmail pages, and what type format to use.

Google Knows You

How does Google know who I am? The short answer is through your IP address, which is unique to your computer or current location, and by installing an identifier cookie on your computer that makes you easier to track. Google is often able to derive basic demographic information about users based on their browsing history. This allows advertisers to both target their ads and verify that their ads are reaching the intended audience. There are allegations that Google monitors up to 90 percent of Internet users worldwide, and may scan every email message that goes through one of its servers, regardless of whether Gmail is used. Some people report being served display ads after writing on an obscure topic in email and suspect it was due to Google’s scanning (and indexing) of messages.


Google offers a very powerful sales follow-up tool known as remarketing. After someone visits your website, ads for your products and services are placed on other GDN websites she/he visits. This gives you an opportunity to re-engage visitors who exit your website before they convert.

Watch for more on Remarketing in Buzzquake’s next post.

2016-10-17T10:29:42+00:00 September 7th, 2015|Business Advice, Newsletter|