Google AdWords Interest categories allow advertisers to reach targeted audiences across the Google Display Network by allowing advertisers to choose from a list of categories — from Yoga & Pilates to Sports Memorabilia or Vehicle Shopping — and Google will show ads to people who are interested in those categories.
Users are targeted for interest categories based on their browsing history. So for example, when a user visits a partner website, Google analyzes the content of the page and site to show contextually relevant ads. Google then associates the interests with the user’s cookie. Google says that they may also use the websites a user visits, as well as third-party data, to infer the user’s gender, age category and other demographics. If the sites that a user visits have a majority of male visitors, Google may associate your cookie with the male demographic category. (Google does not associate sensitive interest categories such as those based on race, religion, sexual orientation, health or financial categories with a user’s cookie).
Interest category campaigns are a great way to increase visibility of your products or services because you can target a specific audience. Ads using interest categories reach users when they are visiting websites that may not be related to the interested category you are targeting. In other words, you can target someone who has been on yoga related websites while the user is on a website that is not related to yoga.
Interest category campaigns are a great way to supplement keyword or placement campaigns because you can reach users who are interested in your products or services even when they are on unrelated pages. This means you can reach a wider audience and generate more qualified traffic to your site.
If you are looking for additional ways to market your brand and increase your visibility online, Content Targeting and Placement Targeting campaigns can be excellent options. It is important however, to understand the differences between the two channels and align your goals with the strengths of each.
Content Targeting gives you the opportunity to reach a huge audience. The Google content network has thousands of publishing partners from widely known websites to very small forums and blogs. Google will automatically deliver your ads to content network sites based on the relevancy of your keywords and ads to the site publisher’s content and themes. Content Targeting gives you a chance to increase brand awareness and you can expect to receive thousands of impressions per day. But the Google system is not perfect and this type of campaign must be watched and managed closely. Google offers a report titled Placement Performance which provides performance data from the content network sites where your ad(s) have been shown. This report is extremely useful in identifying sites within the network that are not performing to your expectations. Be proactive in running this report daily and add sites to your “excluded sites” list to optimize your content network campaign.
Placement Targeting allows you to deliver your ads to a much more targeted audience. Instead of your ads being shown across all the publishing partners who Google determines have relevancy with your ads, you choose the sites from the content network. Many site publishers within the content network allow both text ads and banner ads. If you have banner creatives already in place this can be valuable way to test your banner ads against text ads on specific websites. This type of campaign must also be watched closely. There are usually only a few available ad positions on these content network sites and if you simply set up the campaign and let it run you may find your ads are not being displayed. It is important to assign a value to visitors from placement targeting sites. You may have to bid much more aggressive in order to achieve ad delivery on sites with a lot of competition.