Google is making it easier and more conve­nient to manage contex­tual target­ing campaigns within AdWords.  In mid-January of 2011 Google intro­duced the Contex­tual Target­ing Tool and this week they’ve expanded options even further by grant­ing the oppor­tu­nity to specify select topics and sub-topics to contex­tu­ally target ads on the Display Network.

Contex­tual Target­ing Tool

The Contex­tual Target­ing Tool auto­mat­i­cally creates lists of keywords based on cate­gories or themes rather than requir­ing manual build outs of keywords into tightly-knit ad groups.  Not only does the tool build keyword lists for ad groups quickly and conve­niently, but it is also useful for reach­ing audi­ences that adver­tis­ers may not have other­wise thought of target­ing. For example, if a company sells shoes, they can enter the keyword “shoes” into the target­ing tool and a list of suggested ad groups and suggested bids will show.

They can also expand on each list for even further refine­ment.  For instance, if there is a large empha­sis on women’s shoes, by click­ing on “expand” next to the “Womens shoes” suggested group, more options for sub-cate­gories of women’s shoes will show.

Prior to the avail­abil­ity of this option, many adver­tis­ers used Google’s Wonder Wheel tool which suggested themes for keywords but did not supply keyword lists within client’s AdWords accounts.  The Contex­tual Target­ing Tool finally makes this possi­ble.

Contex­tual Topics and Sub-topics

With this week’s addi­tion of over 1,750  topics and sub-topics avail­able within AdWords under the new “Topics” tab, advertiser’s can now easily reach broad audi­ences that may engage with their busi­ness-related content.

Using topics relies less on partic­u­lar tight knit groups of keywords and more on all of the terms within a page to deter­mine that page’s topic.  Both the Contex­tual Target­ing Tool as well as topics and sub-topics can be used together but while keyword-based target­ing is useful for focus­ing on a specific brand or model of a product, topic target­ing is gener­ally a better option for raising aware­ness within a group of broad audi­ences.  For instance, when selling women’s shoes, the adver­tiser may want to reach out to audi­ences outside of the Footwear cate­gory such as Women’s cloth­ing and Women’s Inter­ests to educate, create inter­est and raise aware­ness for their prod­ucts.