AdWords Display Optimization

Today we are going to talk about Adwords Optimization for Display traffic.  GDN (Google Display Network) has the widest display reach out of any network around.  When you have it working for you pushing leads and sales you can do some big daily and monthly numbers.  Getting a campaign dialed in however can be tricky.  In this guide I’ll be covering some manual optimization tips for GDN

AdWords Display Optimization  is part 9 of our Google Display Training Course found at  All our Adwords Courses can be found on  and our Adwords Search course can be found at

Here is a video covering real life example and ways to optimize

Automatic Optimization

Target CPA – Under Campaign Settings

Adwords Display has a few automatic options built into Adwords.  Most people are already familiar with Campaign Optimizer.  This is now being called Target CPA. With target CPA AdWords will automatically attempt to optimize for your targeted CPA goal.  In theory this is fantastic but in practice I find this to fail miserably more times then not.

For Target CPA to work with 100% confidence you nee 400 conversion in the previous 30 days.  Even with this amount of conversions I generally find my traffic volume drop off significantly when I turn on Target CPA and my actual CPA tends to climb higher.

I have however had some clear times when Target CPA actually worked and worked really well to lower my overall costs and get me more conversions with about the same amount of traffic.


Enhanced CPC – Under Campaign Settings

Starting off I tend to use Manual CPC with Enhanced CPC enabled.  What this will do is bid up to 30% higher for traffic that AdWords thinks will convert better for you. This is another form of Automatic Optimization.

Optimize for Conversions – Under Campaign Settings

optimize for conversions

Showing ads expected to provide more conversions is also a great way to help boost your conversions.  As with many other AdWords settings, it can really suck when you first turn it on because it won’t really rotate enough images to determine a true winner.

Display Campaign Optimizer – Under Targeting Inside Each Adgroup

display campaign optimizer

Display Campaign Optimizer is a great way to let AdWords expand your Adgroups reach by finding more customers that closely match those converting. Generally I’ll have this option turned on by default for conservative targeting and once the campaign has 200-400 sales/leads in a 30 day period I’ll turn on Aggressive targeting and let it work it’s magic.  When this is turned on at first your CR with drop but over the next few days you should notice consistent progress to getting back to your average CR or at the very least your CPC prices drop a little so your CPA does closely match your original average CPA.

Manual Optimization

I don’t want to include a lot of fluff so I’ll get right to the point for what you can optimize manually.  I’m sure you can figure out how to best implement these suggestions.

Pause Under Performing Ads


You should be having more then 1 text ad going and more then 1 image ad going.  Even with Adwords automatic ad optimization I still recommend manually sorting through the data and pausing ads that are performing extremely bad.  In almost every campaign I have a few of these and they are budget bleeders.

Exclude Placements


One of the most powerful features on GDN is the ability to exclude placements.  All GDN campaigns have placement information and being able to exclude placements that are not performing well is akin to on Search when using negative keywords.

Exclude Demographics


Having the ability to exclude known male and female visitors of those in a set age range or based on parental status can be a big help to a campaign.  There are plenty of times you might have a male only product or a female only product that you are wanting to promote and excluding age ranges and genders can have a huge impact on the bottom line.

This type or targeting data is not available in all countries but it continues to get better and better each year.  Generally for most advertisers I would not exclude a group off the bat.  However as conversions start to come in some times there are very clear pictures that can be painted.

Keep in mind you do not have to exclude a Gender to optimize.  You could do a positive or negative bid adjust to get you less or more of a certain kind of traffic.

Day Parting / Hour Parting

You have the ability to also bid adjust or exclude days of the week or hours of the day that are not profitable.  In most cases I do not recommend most advertisers do this unless you have set store hours and you know customers will need to be able to get a hold of you when ordering.

Location Optimization

When you are bidding on more then 1 location you have the ability to exclude or bid adjust on locations.  So if I was serving all of the U.S. and let’s say Texas just wasn’t ever getting ROI for me but was close to making money I could bid adjust -20% and see if me spending less per click could make that state profitable for me.

Normally when I’m bid adjusting I’m doing so on a Country level and not a State or City level.


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