How to Extend AdWords Reach with New Interest Categories

Ever since the advent of behavioral targeting, marketers have strived to reach people online who show interest in their products or services. Offering the ability to reach consumers on a one-to-one basis can greatly increase brand awareness and sales among key targets.

Now Google has taken those efforts one step further with a powerful behavioral targeting program available to AdWords advertisers on the Google Display Network. The service, “Interest Categories”, enables advertisers to target consumers based on their previous behavior and search history.

The new wrinkle in the network takes into consideration the types of websites each consumer visits and how frequently they visit those sites. Google then allocates that consumer a category - one of over 1,000 to choose from – allowing advertisers to target their campaigns.

From Google AdWords blog:

"With contextual targeting on the Google Display Network, you can find people the very moment they express interest by browsing relevant content. But what happens if someone who has been browsing for cameras then goes on to read a separate news site or favorite blog? A marketer for a camera company would like to show that interested user an ad, but they can't use contextual targeting to reach them, since the site is unrelated."

It essentially allows you to follow, or retarget, them. So if someone fits the profile you selected through the Interest Categories section, they can still be served ads across different sites.

How it works.

Google’s Display Network is designed to be an effective way to reach more interested users, increase awareness and ultimately drive sales. Using Interest Categories, you can serve ads to the people most likely to purchase your products or services, and you can reach them across all types of sites in the network, as well as on contextually relevant sites.

Currently, more than 1,000 Interest Categories are available to choose from with over 500 million users within the network. During the beta test period, beginning in 2009, some participating advertisers reported impressive results using Interest Categories to meet diverse goals. One advertiser saw an increase in brand lift by 40 percent, while a shoe retailer drove 400 percent more conversions at a lower advertising cost per sale, according to Google.

As with standard Adwords, you pay only for clicks or impressions at auction prices.

Why you need to use Interest Categories.

Interest Categories allow advertisers to improve campaign performance. That is the bottom line, and it could greatly improve your bottom line. It also has other benefits Google suggests you should consider for your campaign:

Increase awareness of your brand and products while bringing traffic to your website. Ads using Interest Categories can reach users even when they're visiting websites that aren't related to the category selected. Also, reaching users across the entire Google Display Network provides the opportunity to use Google’s automatic, real-time bid optimization that is based on the user’s current page and cookie to improve the performance of your campaign. You’ll need to use CPC bidding to leverage this bid optimization.

These campaigns can also help you find users for your remarketing lists. Once users visit your site after clicking an ad, for example, you can add these users to your remarketing lists so you can show ads to them while they visit sites on the Display Network.

Extend the reach or frequency of your existing campaigns that already use keyword, placement, or topic targeting.  For example, Google uses the example of a person shopping online for  a car.  car shopper.  Generally speaking, it costs more to advertise on car sales websites than on sites that might be related to other topics, such as food and drinks. By using Interest Categories, you can reach users that are interested in cars even when they're on unrelated pages. This means reaching a wider audience and generating more clicks and sales at lower cost.

Tailor your ad and bids to specific interests. Let us suppose you want to reach a user interested in buying cars on auto websites. You think your car appeals to a wide variety of people, but some people may react better to particular ads.

You can use Interest Categories to show an interactive rich media ad to visitors who previously visited websites about video games. Similarly, you could show an image ad that associates a family-oriented lifestyle with your car brand to auto website visitors who are also interested in parenting. If you think people who are interested in websites related to parenting are 30 percent  more likely to buy your car than the typical auto website visitor, you may choose to bid 30 percent more for any auto website visitor who has an interest in sites about parenting.

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