Category Archives: Display

Target Parental Status Through Google AdWords

There is a new “Parental status” target option that rolled out in AdWords, which helps you target parents versus those who are not. This is a useful feature for advertisers who have demographic data on their customers and already know that their audience falls into a clear bucket. For example, those selling baby products or children’s clothes would benefit from it, as the majority of their customers are parents.

Google determines parental status by monitoring browsing activity of sites you visit as as well as demographic data you may have shared in your Google profile or with similar sites. For example, if you browse mommy blog posts and read child development articles, Google may classify you in the  “Parent” group.

To see this option, navigate to your Display Network tab and select the Parental status sub-tab. Parental status is only available in display campaigns, and of course for a good number of users the information will be unknown.


One way you can use this option is to exclude non-parents, for example. Be careful to review your performance metrics first before completely excluding an entire subset of your visitors. Because parental status is unknown for a large number of visitors, you may be excluding some valuable traffic.


Another way to utilize this feature is with bid adjustments to increase or decrease bids. For example, if you already know that a good number of your converting customers are parents, bid more on that group, and decrease your bids on non-parents.

Parental status started by being rolled out to US advertisers, and it may not be available in all countries just yet.

Google’s New Display In-Market Buyers

About Display In-Market Buyers

If you’re running display campaigns through your Google AdWords account, you may have noticed a new targeting option called Display- In-market Buyers (ROI) in your interest categories section.

In-market segmentation is a new audience targeting method that allows advertisers to target users who are actively looking to buy certain products or services in the near future or have high propensity to buy if they find the right product or offer.

Google classifies users being in-market by:

– Identifying content that indicates user-intent to purchase an item. For example, someone        browsing consumer reviews and price comparison sites.
– Considering how often and how recently a user visited these pages.
– Identifying contexts where users have previously clicked on ads related to the product or service of interest and have converted.
– Considering common search keywords that led users to the page.
– Looking at display impression data or 3rd party data or both.

Display In-Market Buyers Best Practices

The set it up, I recommend creating a separate display only campaign dedicated to this targeting method, so you can use a different budget for this test. You’ll find Display In-Market Buyers in your Interests & remarketing section as you create an ad group and choose how to target ads.


The current available targets include categories such as “Autos & Vehicles” and “Education” and many others, as well as sub-categories if you’d like to make your audience more specific. If you do not see a category that’s relevant to you, make sure to check back as Google has been adding new categories since the launch of this feature.


I suggest keeping the bids more conservative than search, since you’ll be reaching a much more wide pool of users.

Make sure that you add image ads, and if you’re planning on using text ads, create separate ad groups for the text and banners, so you can use different bids.

As with any campaigns, check in on this campaign to make sure it’s bringing you the right types of visitors, and optimize by adjusting bids, excluding placements, and trying different ads.

So far, I am seeing a large amount of traffic from this strategy, but conversions have not been even close to search. It will likely convert worse than your remarketing campaigns, but could be a nice source of additional traffic for those who are looking to brand or reach new pools of users.

Should You Try Google’s Display Campaign Optimizer?

If you’ve been running Google AdWords display campaigns that are generating conversions, you’ve probably seen a message that some of your ad groups are eligible to use the Display Campaign Optimizer (DCO). But should you really enable it?

display campaign optimizer

DCO is Google’s tool that promises  to find you more conversions by working with your CPA goal. It adjusts your bids based on historical data and finds additional relevant placements to maximize display conversions. DCO requires a minimum of 15 conversions over the last 30 days and works best with a Target CPA bid.

Before you enable it in eligible campaigns, keep in mind that the Display Campaign Optimizer works best in campaigns with a lot of conversion data, not just the minimum required 15/month. Also, CPAs tend to go up when you enable it. It’s best for advertisers who:

  1. Want more traffic and are not as strict with what websites their ads will show on. You could be showing on websites you did not add to your placements, as DCO finds new placements for you that you did not specifically target.
  2. Are OK with a CPA increase. If your CPAs are so low that you can afford to pay more for each conversion (congratulations, by the way!), give DCO a try.

Usually the first few days you’ll likely see a rather high CPA increase while DCO learns and adjusts, and CPA tends to come down gradually over the next few weeks. If you decide to test it, I recommend committing to ~2 weeks. CPA should come down and stabilize a couple of weeks after enabling it.

To enable DCO, click into an eligible Display campaign and ad group. Next, navigate to the Display Network tab and click on + Change display targeting. Scroll down until you see Targeting optimization (Display campaign optimizer) and select the checkbox next to Get more conversions.

display campaign optimizer enable

As always, monitor your account to check that the change in traffic falls in line with your goals. If your conversions are up and CPA is still acceptable, consider enabling DCO in additional ad groups. If CPAs are too high after a couple of weeks, disable CPA or try it in a different campaign and ad group.

Optimize Pay-Per-Click Display Campaigns for ROI

Many advertisers are reluctant to use display due to lack of control and poor ROI, but with the right set-up and optimization, display can be a great source of leads, and not just a branding tool. Display includes websites, such as blogs, articles, and other sites that will show ads relevant to their content. The Display Network has the advantage of reaching potential customers at different points of the buying cycle, and capturing the attention of those that were not yet considering searching for your services. For example, someone reading an article on how to clean a carpet might decide that they’d like to hire your carpet cleaning company after seeing your ad next to the article they were reading.

As you get ready to advertise on Display, keep in mind that users browsing online content behave very differently than those searching for specific information. Also, you will see different results from the two networks. Lower CTRs on display are normal and will not affect the quality of your search keywords. Most advertisers see higher conversion rates for search, but that’s not always necessarily the case. Some of my clients get most of their conversions from display. Then, there are advertisers who see lower conversion rates on Display but still get valuable traffic at lower costs than Search. The only way to know how Search and Display will perform for you is to test them both.

Here are my top 5 recommendations for optimizing display campaigns:

  1. Display only campaigns: When advertisers create their AdWords campaigns, they’re automatically opted into both networks. However, I do not recommend simply enabling Display within your existing campaign, keep the two networks separate. To get you started, create a mirror version on your search campaign, opt it out of search and leave it opted into content only.
  2. What placements to target: You can either run display ads by choosing Automatic Placements, where AdWords chooses for you what websites are relevant based on your current keywords and ads. or, you can target specific websites you’d like to show on by selecting Managed Placements. At this initial stage, I recommend going with Automatic instead of Managed Placements.
  3. Budget: While you test effectiveness of Display for your website, I recommend setting an initially lower budget for Display than for Search (10-20% of your total AdWords budget), and lowering your bids by about 20% for Display.
  4. Display ads: Create different ads for display to capture attention of users that are at different staged of the buying cycle. Also, create image and rich media ads. AdWords offers a free Display ad builder that will help you get started. Image and rich media ads tend to get better CTR on display than regular text ads.
  5. Exclude poor performers: Monitor what websites your ads have appeared on and exclude poor performers, which are sites that generate a lot of impressions but few clicks, and sites that you get a lot of clicks from but that don’t convert.

Keep monitoring your campaigns and adjusting based on incoming data. Display could prove a valuable source of cost-effective traffic you’ve been missing out on! What strategies have you tried that  worked?

Increase exposure to your site with flash and image ads

According to the latest data, flash and rich media ads account for 40% of online display ad impressions. AdWords, and most other PPC programs allow you to create these ad formats through their display network. Many advertisers have been reluctant to use display but with the right set-up and targeting you can optimize ROI as well. AdWords even offers a free display ad builder to help you get started. Are you taking advantage of this growing market?

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