Flexible Targeting on the Google Display Network


Michael S


Google have now introduced a new option for targeting the display network called ‘flexible reach’. This option, Google say, will become default over the coming months, making the current broad reach and specific reach options obsolete.



– The main change is the ability to now choose targeting at the ad group level; meaning you can now select different targeting methods in the same campaign.

– For users of broad reach targeting it is now possible to select which areas you bid up and down on.

– You can also now have a mixture between the scope allowed by specific reach and what is covered by broad reach.


Previously with broad reach, select areas were ranked higher so you weren’t able to choose which area to bid up or down on, dependant on which categories you chose this decision was made for you. So there is now more freedom here to select which categories you wish to bid higher on.

With broad reach and specific reach for selected targeting and bid management the categories were automatically decided on how many you could have and which they would be, so you could have only one scenario for each. The advantage of the flexible setting is you can have either of these options then a mixture of the 2 which you can see above as well. This give account managers the ability to create a wider reach than with specific targeting, whilst also utilising the use of bidding up and down on selected areas.

The main benefit however for most managing campaigns on the PPC display network is that these targeting settings can be changed for different ad groups. In the past these changes could only be made at the campaign level so if you wanted to target using multiple different methods it would have meant creating separate campaigns for each. This will make the creation and management and display network targeting much easier by having things more grouped together.


We still can’t have complete flexibility… once included, keywords still automatically become the selected targeting option (which cannot be changed), i.e. you cannot choose to bid up or down based contextually on the keywords.

Another drawback is that it is not possible to tailor all settings at the ad group level, whilst it is possible to target differently based on placements, keywords, topics, interests and remarketing lists. It is still not possible to alter budgets and other settings such as: geo-targeting, devices and ad rotation at the ad group level. So when I say you can now manage work on the display network all within the same campaign, in reality if you really need to manage the budgets accurately, are wishing to target different devices, geographic areas or are looking to rotate adverts in different ways, then it will still be necessary to create multiple campaigns.

In summary, it’s definitely an improvement by allowing you to be more creative and it’s a nice middle ground between the wide reaching broad setting and the very niche specific setting. It hasn’t however made it as easy to manage as search campaigns yet, for those looking to manage budgets more closely it still looks more appropriate to separate different display targets into different campaigns.