Automated Targeting in Remarketing Campaigns

Paid SearchPerformance Media


If you have been running remarketing display ads over the last year, you might have noticed that impressions and clicks have significantly increased. We noticed this with one of our clients where the impressions and clicks on pure remarketing campaigns had significantly increased but our sessions, and therefore cookie pool, were relatively stable. 

When investigating we found that Google was serving ads to an ‘automated audience’. This is a relatively new feature which didn’t get much press or public announcement on launch. 

What is Google Display’s Automatic Targeting?

Google Display’s Automatic Targeting is a default option, under Audience Settings, that enables Google to expand your existing audience to users that have similar characteristics as those in your audience. 

Google defines Automatic Targeting as ‘Automatic targeting expands your reach to additional users to help you generate more conversions at or around the same cost per customer with Google Display ads.’

Since this is a default setting, Google has full discretion to expand your audience and therefore spend to reach audiences you have not targeted. 

How can you tell that your campaigns are using Automatic Targeting?

To find out whether your display remarketing campaigns are being served to automatic audiences, go to your audiences reports then look at the summary rows at the bottom.

You will see a row named Total: Display automatic targeting, you can then compare the audience performance to that of your existing remarketing audiences.


How do you remove Automatic Targeting?

Here is how you can go about removing display automatic targeting:

  1. Navigate to the Display campaign you would like to change and click on it.
  2. Select the ad group you would like to change targeting for.
  3. With the ad group selected go to Settings.
  4. Then select Edit ad group targeting.

5. Under ad group targeting, scroll to the bottom and under Targeting expansion section reduce the toggle to the far left to turn off ‘Added reach.’


I would encourage everyone running pure remarketing campaigns to check for automatic targeting on their campaigns. We have found the automatic audiences have significantly lower conversion rates than the original targeted audiences. 

Would love to hear from anyone who has had success with automatic targetting or if you have any other suggestions.

That’s all from me folks!

Like this blog post? Sign up to our email newsletter – Lab Report – and never miss a new one. Or, get it sent straight to your Messenger!

Reminder: Google UA Historical Data to be Deleted in July 2024