How To Use The Contextual Targeting Tool to Estimate CPC and Budget for Google Display Network Campaigns [Video]

Glenn Gabe

adwords, google, SEM

When most people think of running AdWords campaigns, they immediately think of ads running on Many don’t realize that you can target audiences outside of with both text ads and display advertising. The ads will run across Google’s Display Network, which includes any website running Google Ads. Note, this also includes Google properties like Gmail, Google Maps, YouTube, etc. It can be extremely powerful when set up and managed correctly.

Although there are several different ways to target audiences across the Display Network, setting up targeted themes is often a strong way to go. That’s where you set up ad groups targeting a tight set of keywords, which Google can use to understand the content you want your ads to match up with. For example, if you want your ads to show up on hdtv review sites, you would create an ad group that includes a tight set of keywords around the topic “hdtv reviews”.

That’s great, but how do you estimate the cost per click (CPC) and budget for Display Network campaigns? Is it even possible to gauge CPC’s for various themes you are targeting? Yes, you can do this, and I’m going to show you how to do it today. I’ve created a five minute video below that walks you through how to use the contextual targeting tool in AdWords to find estimated CPC’s by theme. Check out the video below to learn more.

YouTube video

Video Transcription:
Hello, everybody. This is Glenn Gabe from G-Squared Interactive. I just wanted to take you through a quick video tutorial today. What I’m actually going to go through is the contextual targeting tool and how to estimate CPCs and budget based on the themes that you set up. For those of you that aren’t familiar, the Display Network enables you to target an audience outside of It could be extremely powerful, but you do need to understand what a rough CPC and what the rough budget will be. That’s what we’re going to go through today.

There are various ways to target an audience across the Google Display Network, but the way that we’re going to work through today is by targeting themes, very tight themes that Google will interpret and then provide your ads against targeted content. It’s contextual advertising.

In order to get started, what you’re going to do is log in to your AdWords account. You’ll probably be under your Campaigns tab. What I want you to do is actually go to Tools and Analysis, it’s a tab up top, click the dropdown, and then click Contextual Targeting Tool. That will take you to this screen right here.

The first thing we’re going to do is actually map out some themes for a specific category. So it’s that time of year. It’s the holidays. A lot of people are buying electronics and TVs. So let’s use HDTVs as a test for us. What I want you to do is go up into the search box and actually type “HDTV” and then hit Search. What Google is presenting now are themes based on HDTVs. You have about five or six different suggested ad groups with about five to seven different keywords in there. Again, very tight themes.

What this is going to tell Google, if you choose a specific “suggested ad group”, which you won’t for every one, I mean, some of these are not going to be targeted, like “HDTV antenna” probably isn’t one that you’re going to run, but for the ones that you’re going to run, you’re telling Google to present your ads against content that is relevant to the specific themes. And that could be very, very powerful if used properly.

What’s worth noting here is that if you go to the far right, you’ll see Suggested Bid based on the ad groups that are suggested here. Suggested Bid is based on historically competitive bids on the sites that are relevant to the keywords you entered. So Google is taking a look at what bids were on sites that matched these themes and giving you an estimated CPC.

Moving back to the left here, you’ll see two icons for each of these suggested ad groups. One is a plus symbol, another is an ellipsis. If they’re grayed out, you cannot drill into them. If they are active, you obviously can. The ellipsis represents predicted placements. These are websites that Google is saying that your ads can show up on based on the themes that you’ve set up. If you click the ellipsis, you are actually going to see all of those websites, and more importantly, you are going to see an estimated CPC like we saw before. So this is a bid suggestion, which you can use to estimate clicks, costs, obviously clicks times estimated CPC. You can start to back out conversion numbers. It’s just a great place to start based on the themes that you’re creating.

So that’s predicted placements. Let’s pop back to the results here. We clicked the ellipsis before. Now what I’m going to do is click the plus sign. Again, it needs to be active. If it’s grayed out, you cannot drill into it. Let’s go into HDTV deals. If we click the plus icon, what you’re actually going to see are more themes based on HDTV deals. So now you’re going deeper into the themes, sub-themes within HDTV deals. This is something that you definitely would want to do if you’re researching this for a specific project.

Back to our CPCs for a minute. If you go to the right here, you’ll actually see again suggested bid. Again, this is based on each of the historical bids that Google has found for each of the themes that you’ve created. Of course, like we did before, you could actually click the ellipsis icon to drill into predicted placements. You could click the plus sign to expand links to the websites so you could actually check those out. Again, you do have bid suggestions up top for estimating your CPC. This is the way that you would drill into specific themes, figure out estimated CPCs, and then start to gauge what your rough budget would look like.

This concludes the tutorial. I hope you feel more comfortable using the Contextual Targeting tool to estimate CPCs and budget. Again, it’s a great way to actually map this out and export it directly to your campaigns. So head over to my blog at, post a comment, ask questions. That’s totally fine, and you could email me directly from the blog as well. Good luck with the Google Display Network and happy bidding.

1 thought on “How To Use The Contextual Targeting Tool to Estimate CPC and Budget for Google Display Network Campaigns [Video]”

  1. It’s amazing you stare at Adwords everyday..and right in front of your nose is a tool to figure out pricing for Display Network Traffic. The only problem is you can’t specify Geo-Targets. I alway wondered why Google doesn’t provide a formal tool/estimator for pricing on the display network.


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