Google Display Network Targeting: Boost Top-of-Funnel Traffic for Uniform Audiences | Psychographic Hot House


Driving top-of-funnel traffic for any audience can be tricky, diverse or not. On the bright side, certain verticals allow you to tap into the wide range of targeting options in the Google Display Network (GDN). If done correctly, the GDN can be a great option for driving top-of-funnel traffic, as well as direct response.

Understanding your audience

Before building anything out, knowing some basic information about your target audience is a must. Consider the vertical you’re in; who is your typical customer? Let’s put ourselves in the shoes of a beauty product marketer. Based on what we know about our products, we can gather ideas for optimizing our upcoming campaigns.

Right away, there are a few things regarding our current customer base we can look at to ensure we’re serving our ads to the most relevant audience possible. For our beauty product example, we know the majority of our purchasers are women between the ages of 25 and 48.

Applying age & gender modifiers/exclusions

If we want to target more of our current customer base — women, in our example — we can choose to bid down on the male gender. If we wish to expand our reach amongst males and raise awareness, we can choose to apply a positive bid modifier to the male gender.

We’ve seen many cases where it may seem intuitive to bid down on or exclude a certain gender, but the gender you’ve applied a negative bid modifier on actually comes in at a lower cost. In our example, it’s quite possible that the male audience could be very low inventory, but the conversions that do come in are inexpensive, potentially less than the female audience.

Targeting selection: interests

For most top-of-funnel awareness-based campaigns, topics and interests can be a great place to start your targeting. Begin with the “interests & remarketing” section.


To find the right interests for your vertical, navigate to the “in-market audiences” section and type in relevant keywords to see what comes up. In our beauty product example, keywords like “beauty,” “hair,” “skin” and “care” give us a great start. From there, we can select users who are in-market for categories relevant to our services.


Be sure to set this selection as “target and bid” as opposed to “bid only.” Target and bid selects the group of users that we’re going to show ads to, whereas bid only is used for amplification of current targeted audiences.

Targeting selection: topics

To narrow our targeting and only serve ads to the most qualified audience, we can add in additional targeting for topics as target and bid. This means that in order for a user to be shown an ad, they must be associated with both the selected interests and topics. Adding more topics will expand your targeting further.


Fine tuning

At this point, depending on your selection, your audience may be just right or it could be too restricted. If you’re not getting the desired traffic from your targeting, try raising bids a bit. If that doesn’t do the job, expand your reach on the audience level by adding more topics and interests. Still need more reach? Try setting your target and bid to either just interests or topics and set the other one to bid only. This will serve ads to users on your target + bid selection and then you can apply a bid modifier to your alternative selection if the user happens to be associated. We previously had them combined, which means the user had to have an association with both the topics AND the interests.

The display network can be a great source of top-of-funnel traffic, if done correctly. Remember the levers that you have at your disposal:

  • Gender modifiers/exclusions
  • Age modifiers/exclusions
  • Interests
  • Topics
  • Target + bid vs. bid-only combinations

Your turn, readers. Share your GDN targeting tips or questions below.

Image credit: dwphotos/

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