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Google Display Network Ads Will No Longer Require Any Targeting Method

December 18, 2017

Get ready! – Possibly the worst AdWords feature that Google could ever introduce will be coming your way in early 2017!

As of January 18th, 2017, Google image and video ads inside ad groups with no targeting methods will be eligible to show across the Google Display Network. That’s right, ads would just show to anybody and everybody, in any GDN location on the web.

Via their December 14th announcement:

Starting January 18th, 2017, we’re making advertising for display and video campaigns simpler: ad groups with no targeting method selected will automatically be eligible to show ads on the Google Display Network, so long as they have a bid set and at least one approved ad.

This may as well say, “We’re making it easier for inexperienced advertisers to blow away their budgets on our platform.”

This is going to be a disaster, in our humble opinion. Consider the amount of small business owners that are capable enough to manage their own AdWords search campaigns, but will fall victim to an Opportunities Alert that explains how easy it is to create your first display campaign! These advertisers generally lack the experience and understanding of the possible ramifications of such a risky endeavor.

They’re also less likely to be able to afford the wasted spend that comes along with this sort of set it and forget it type campaign management that Google seems to push so often (see: AdWords Express).

Running untargeted ads on the GDN would be as effective as a dentist in Cleveland paying for a billboard in Times Square. At the very least… The VERY least, go with an Affinity Audience of people that are likely in your target market.

Don’t panic, PPC colleagues.

Google is going to automatically pause any current display and video ad groups that don’t have a targeting method on that date. Thankfully, you don’t have to worry that inactive ad groups will start to show ads all over the place.

This is therefore unlikely to negatively affect you or your existing campaigns. But in the future, be extremely careful when developing new display campaigns and be sure to bring this up when training new hires.

Covering their butt.

The announcement from Google also included this:

It’s also a best practice to evaluate your targeting options whenever you create an ad group, so you can choose the one that best aligns with your business goals.

Don’t you love when a paid media engine adds a new feature and immediately adds a disclaimer stating that it is a best practice to avoid said new feature?

C’mon, man.

Would this ever be useful?

While this will likely do more harm than good, there is a time and a place for everything. After a long debate, we came up with one scenario where you might want to test this out with extreme caution.

In general, the looser your targeting, the cheaper the cost-per-click. If your product or service is new or relatively unknown, and your audience is in a tightly defined geographic location, this feature might help generate brand awareness at a low cost.

For example, if you’re a B2B with a new, niche product that would benefit a specific company, you might want to create a new display campaign with one-mile radius targeting around the address of the company. Be sure to set a low frequency cap and consider excluding bad clicks from future targeting. To do so, create a remarketing audience of users that came through this campaign and didn’t spend more than two minutes on your site. Exclude that list from that campaign and all remarketing lists.

Let us know how it works out. We’ll be way over here… at a safe distance behind this concrete barricade, watching you test this through fire-resistant binoculars.

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