Google Adwords Display Network Category Options

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Google Adwords Display Category Options

If you have any Google Adwords campaigns that target the Google Display Network (GDN) then there are some settings that you really need to take a look at. These are the category settings, and they can be very important if your brand is sensitive about where your ads are seen.

If you aren’t the person who looks after the management of your Adwords account, ask your PPC consultant to consider the following tips.

Keeping your brand off unsuitable websites

When setting up a display advertising campaign with the default settings a broad range of websites are eligible for displaying your ads. For some brands, perhaps yours, this may put the campaign at odds with brand guidelines.

To see why, it may help if you log into your Google Adwords account to follow along.

This is how you navigate to the right place in Adwords after logging in:

  1. After selecting one of your campaigns, click on Display Network, then Interests & remarketing (see below):
    Google Adwords Category Navigation
  2. Scroll down a little until you see the Options button, click on it:
    Google Adwords Category Options
  3. You should now see all of the site category options available for targeting display campaigns, as seen below:
    Google Adwords Full Category Options

As you can see, there are a bunch of category targeting options that you can manipulate to reduce exposure to the type of website that may conflict with your brand identity.

By default, all of these options are turned on.

Which options suit your brand?

Looking at the categories you can see that they are pretty self explanatory. You will note that most of the categories have little question mark icons. Hover over these icons for an explanation of the category.

When thinking about which options that your campaigns should have turned off, you need to think about everything from your branding rules through to your target segments.

For example, if you are selling an app aimed at teenagers then you probably don’t want to turn of the Juvenile, gross and bizarre category. Lawyers on the other hand might not be so keen on being seen on websites of that type.

By excluding websites in bulk using this method you can save lot of time. It certainly beats reviewing and excluding placements one-by-one.

If you are using the services of a Google Adwords Consultant then they will be able to explain things even further.

How Google Adwords targeting works

Google display ads get shown in places that you may not expect if you aren’t familiar with the system.

Keep this is mind. Your ads can show on websites based on the users previous searches, websites they’ve visited and other profiling measures. The content on the website can be irrelevant or unrelated to your actual targeting options. This is why your placements report often shows that some pretty random URLs have shown your ads.

The bottom line – your ads can appear on completely unrelated websites. Maybe even inappropriate ones. So, disable categories that you really don’t like the look of.


It only takes a minute to make the changes above once you’ve decided which options to leave enabled. I don’t think that I have ever managed an Adwords account without making changes to the option settings.

If you have been running Adwords display campaigns and have not yet taken a look at these settings then get on it. Chances are you will lower costs and improve your click-through rate (CTR).

Hope this helps!