Google Display Network: Topic vs. Interest Targeting

By September 29, 2011 Paid Media One Comment

So, you’ve already answered the question “What is the Google Display Network?”, and now you’re looking to expand your Google Display Network reach. It can be hard to know where to begin with all these new digital advertising trends appearing. Two of the hot items at the moment are “topic targeting” and “interest categories.” Let me start with a brief explanation of each:

Topic Targeting: Implemented through the “topics” tab, this feature allows you to place your ads directly on pages to which your product/service is relevant. In layman’s terms, it’s an automatic site targeting tool which finds relevant sites for you instead of sifting through the “placement tool.”

Interest Categories: Found within the “audience” tab or through your shared library, this feature allows you to target users who are interested in websites relevant to your product/service and then follows these users around the Internet no matter what website they go to.

The BIG difference in the Google advertising network: Topics target relevant sites while interests target relevant users.

Now, you’re asking, “Which one is better?”  Well that all depends on what your ultimate goal is. Both can greatly broaden your display span but you’ll need to dig deeper in your wallet if you don’t watch them closely. Interest categories work well for branding efforts because you can get your name out to a lot of different people and then keep following them, ingraining your image into their brains. Topics generally will be a bit better for conversions because people are already looking for something related to your product/service.

A better way to use topics is to add keywords. This allows you to still find a relevant but wide range of websites while still honing in on specific themes, so you can really find the most pertinent site and query to increase your conversion rates with the Google advertising network.

A great way to enhance interests is to feed users more specific ads depending on what is important to them.  Say you’re a travel agency, and you are targeting people within the ‘travel’ category. You can set up different ad groups with specific ads targeted to someone who is in the ‘bus & rail’ vs. ‘air travel.’ This may mean more work creating multiple ad versions, but you’ll be putting out highly relevant information to the exact user you want.

Basically, both methods can help expand a campaign to more quality targets. There are many ways you can combine topics and interests as well (and exclude!) that can slowly open up your reach, but that will have to be saved for another post!

To learn more about Google Display Network advertising and see if it’s a good fit for you, read Are You Afraid of the Big Bad Google Display Network?

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About Brittany Amato

Brittany Amato is a Manager of Digital Advertising at Fathom, focusing on the Education, Finance, and Healthcare industries. Brittany brings seven years of digital marketing experience, holding a B.S.B.A in Marketing from Fisher College of Business, and a B.A. in Communications from The Ohio State University. Her main focus is growing enterprise accounts and improving client ROI through data analysis, account optimization, and new channel discovery. She holds certifications in Google Analytics, Google AdWords, BrightEdge, DataXu, Marin Search and Bing Ads.

One Comment

  • Anita says:

    Hi Brittany, Great article, a question, you mentioned that the ad will follow the user after they leave the website no matter where they go on the internet if one uses the Interest Feature under Display Planner, does the same happen if i use the topic feature??

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