Some people are a little afraid of the Google Display Network. There are all kinds of targeting options, segmentation options, and it can rack up a lot of money in a small amount of time. I feel lucky because some of my first accounts were ones in which the Display Network was a primary source of traffic, so I learned pretty fast that the GDN isn’t something to be afraid of – it’s something to be embraced; and, it can work really well for some clients and drive a lot of traffic.

When Google started rolling out Topics targeting, Interest Category Marketing, and Remarketing I was stoked. I couldn’t WAIT to try these out for my clients. Sifting through the list of topics and interest categories was so fun for me – finding things that could work well for my clients. So I launched a Topics campaign and an ICM campaign in two of my accounts and much to my chagrin, the CPLs were pretty high. So I thought to myself: why don’t I add in some keywords? That way, my campaigns will be even more targeted and Google will use not only the Topics and Interest Categories I’ve selected for my campaigns, they’ll also use my keywords to help further narrow down these sites which should help my CPL! Right? Wrong!

I learned some very important information this week:

If you do what I did and you have, say, a Topics campaign and an ICM campaign with the same keywords and ad groups, your keywords actually take precedence over your selected Topics and Interest Categories if you have your campaign settings set to Broad reach:

So, I reached out to a Google rep with the following question:

“Say I have a Topics campaign, ICM campaign, a more general DN campaign with contextual keyword targeting, and a Remarketing campaign in an account which are all using keywords and are all set to Broad reach…what is the effect here? Are all the campaigns really just competing because they all have the same or similar keywords/ad groups, and since the keywords will take precedence if they are opted into Broad reach? If this is the case, should we be opting each of these campaigns into Specific reach to keep them from cannibalizing each others traffic?”

I got the following response from a member of their tech team:

“Abby, you are correct that incase you have different campaigns with topic targeting, interest category targeting, remarketing and all with keyword targeting as well, opted into broad reach, then in such a case it could lead to your own ads competing with one another. This is because in case of broad reach, incase all the campaigns have the same keywords, it would result in all of them competing at the keyword level thereby leading to one cannibalizing the other as correctly mentioned by you.   In such a case, it would be good for your campaigns, if you would opt into specific reach instead. In case of specific reach, say for a topic targeted campaign with keywords, ads would show up only if the search query matched both the topic and keyword. Note that although this could lead to a slight dip in the traffic of the campaigns since they would be very targeted, they would not compete with each other per say.   Also, for campaigns such as for remarketing, you could choose to do away with keywords altogether since they are already targeted towards a specific audience who is interested in your ads. “

My Google rep also provided me with the following link, which breaks down how each type of Display Network targeting works, depending on whether your campaign is opted into Broad or Specific reach, and how the types of targeting work together.

So what’s the next step for me?

Since I know that the Broad reach targeting without keywords doesn’t work so well, I’m changing all of my Display Network campaigns over to specific targeting. This way, the type of targeting will take precedence over the keywords, so I’ll have a much better sense of if/how well these types of targeting are working for my clients, and my Display Network campaigns won’t be snagging traffic from each other.