Between social media and some of the new tools Google has been rolling out, we’ve been able to get greater insight into who our customers are rather than simply what they’re searching for.

Topics are something that often seem to escape the hype of things like in-market audiences, custom audiences, and whatever the next big thing Google rolls out. While they do have their limitations, when used properly they can be a powerful tool in finding out what your customers like.

I’ve been experimenting more by layering seemingly relevant topics onto my already created Display & YouTube campaigns in an effort to find that next little bit of performance advantage. It’s something quick to do and you’ll likely be surprised by the topics in there if you haven’t looked recently.

What is Topic Targeting?

We’ll slow down here and provide a definition of what topic targeting is. Topics are exactly what they sound like, categories of webpages that have content related to specific things. There is everything from the mundane “reference” off to the exotic “world localities”.

Google Ads Topics

Not everything is going to be relevant to your business but these topics may have some big overlap to what your customers also like: a business like Bass Pro may find some large overlap in the Outdoors topic which can be segmented down to fishing, hiking/camping, and hunting.

Why Should You Use Them?

Topic targeting is not going to be a make or break strategy for you but it’s something that can provide an incremental improvement or better arm your entire marketing department. Here are three broad but tangible action items you can work towards with topics.

Bid Modifiers

This is likely going to be your starting point after layering on a bunch of different topics in observation mode. Simply take a look at performance and see what is working and what isn’t. From there you can bid a little higher in areas or place some less emphasis on others.

Overall, these smaller changes should add up and allow you to better get in front of your target customer when they’re either ready to click or convert.

 Exclude Site Categories

Along with a normal placement analysis, this is something that can really help refine who you’re getting out in front of it. Some of my favorites to exclude include Gossip/Tabloid News, Pets (too distracted by dogs), and Music/Audio. These are pretty basic things you can do to help ensure that you’re showing on websites that people aren’t using to escape from the monotony of life from. 

You can take this a step further and really think about it from a brand safety standpoint too. If you’re advertising for the most delicious cookie in the world, you may use some discretion and not advertise on topics related to obesity or diabetes. Don’t forget the always popular family gathering topic of politics too!

Find Matches – Expansion Opportunities

Taking topics a step further, you may find some connections you never knew existed that can open the doors to other types of advertising. Maybe your locally grown pickle business is seeing a big overlap with people who like folk/traditional music. Maybe you want to test out Spotify advertising to people listening to those genres.

If your company sponsors a sports team you may use that to market towards users that are also interested in that sport in your area. They’ll likely be familiar with your brand and you can reinforce that partnership through a whole separate medium.

You’ll have to get creative, but these are things you can take to other parts of the marketing department and present some cold hard numbers for. That may be that extra little boost needed to get more budget and expand into a new marketing channel.

Final Thoughts

While seemingly mundane, topic targeting can be anything from a small incremental adjustment that improves CPA to the spark the launches a whole new strategy or marketing channel.

At the very least, I suggest taking some time and layering as many relevant topics onto your Display and YouTube campaigns as possible to start the data gathering process. Pro Tip: It’s a great way to feel creative on a Friday with the weekend peaking around the corner at you.