Placement Targeting – A Multi-Faceted Piece of the Display Puzzle


What is a placement anyways? Bottom line – when you set up display targeting (of any type), placements are the websites where your ads are ultimately served. Website, web page, placement… there you go. As your display campaigns run and you accumulate data on placements, your optimization opportunities really begin to open up.

In the world of Google Display Network, the concept of placement targeting is prevalent – bidding to a specific website (domain) or webpage. This practice is common in other display formats as well. Whatever the platform or channel, the workflows are often similar and you end up in the same position. You have a set of placements and placement strategies that are working for you and you let it ride. But there are plenty of reasons to refresh your placement strategy. Let’s take a look at the common workflows and reasons for refreshing/updating your display placements.

Common Workflows

  • Research websites (that serve ads) that are relevant to your product service. This research could be done in a number of ways, but one of the easiest ways is via Google’s Display Planner. From here you choose your placements to target directly and/or exclude, run the chose placements in isolated campaigns/ad groups and optimize.
  • When running display campaigns with different targeting (contextual, audience, interest categories, etc.) you are generating a vast database of placements to mine for gold. From here you analyze your placement performance reports and create 2 lists: placements to exclude and placements to “promote” with additional efforts or strategies.
  • The placements you choose to promote can be given special treatment by:
    • Adding promoted placements as bid-only placements in your existing display ad groups. Bid up (or down if need be) and carefully track performance for these top placements.
    • More often than not, your top placements are promoted to isolated ad groups and/or campaigns. These placements are also added as exclusions to your other display campaigns. This ensures that you are funneling all impressions through your placement target directly.

Reasons to Update & Refresh

  • On the GDN, the auction is modified so that you are entering a “one vs. many” auction. The short definition is that you have to win it all in order for your ad to show on that placement. Given that you could very well end up paying more to capture clicks and conversions from a placement, it is important to regularly check in on performance to ensure each placement is still profitable.
    • This is another reason why approaching placements in a “bid only” format within existing display campaigns/ad groups can be beneficial. Bid up if it is working to avoid an altogether different auction environment.
  • Regularly researching for new placement opportunities is a great way to refresh your strategy. Web publishers come and go from the display networks, therefore your options to placement target will change over time.
  • Review your placements to ensure that they are still relevant and performing for you. Why?
    • Perhaps your target audience has shifted away from that website (or that website’s traffic sources have dried up).
    • Maybe something happened in the news (on content sites) that could have influenced how your ad is perceived or performs.
    • The publisher could’ve changed how ad units are arranged on the website which would invariably impact your performance.
    • Websites, brands and content types change. A website that is spot on relevant for your products/services today may not be relevant in a few months time.
  • Mobile. There, I said it. Mobile display is the big, crazy wild-wild-west right now. There’s a ton of impression inventory. There is the risk that the high traffic may not of the highest quality. Because of this, many of you out there are still blocking mobile display as a rule. Please – rethink this.
    • Take care to specifically research mobile website placements as well as mobile app placements. If you choose wisely, you can capitalize on all of those impressions/clicks (and yes – conversions) in a much more focused fashion.

Display placements are multi-faceted and there are many ways of approaching how and why we optimize them. The common thread? Consistent check-in on strategy and performance. Whatever angle you take, it may not work forever – so keep coming back to your placements to continue finding display success.

Catch up on more display goodies by checking out the earlier posts in our#DigIntoDisplay series!

Image source/credit: Union Jack Creative.