Maximizing DV360's Optimized Targeting: Operational Insights and Pitfalls

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If you are an avid Display and Video 360 (DV360) user, you have likely heard of, seen or used a new feature in DV360 called “optimized targeting.” This feature is an evolution of Google's audience expansion solution, and Adswerve is here to guide you through how to use this new feature effectively.

What is Optimized Targeting?

Optimized targeting is DV360’s latest lookalike iteration that leverages Google’s machine learning. It utilizes a wide range of signals, which are also employed in Google's automated bidding process. This innovative approach helps identify incremental reach with audiences that are more likely to take the desired KPI action. 

With the release of this feature, you have the opportunity to optimize your programmatic campaign’s performance by expanding your audience while optimizing toward custom performance goals without the availability of third-party cookies. (The deprecation of third-party cookies is on the horizon for 2H 2024). 

Optimized targeting is a powerful tool that can help reach audiences beyond your current first-party targeted segments while always working to achieve your campaign’s goals. As with any automated AI tool, it’s best to have a well-thought-out approach before you enable optimized targeting in DV360.

Whether or not you’ve tested optimized targeting,  below are some helpful tips and considerations to keep in mind when using the feature.

Best Practices for Optimized Targeting:

  • Ensure that you have all your necessary targeting applied to your line Items before you enable optimized targeting.
  • Review the current setup of your line item prior to enabling optimized targeting to help avoid overspending:
    • Be mindful of your line item’s available impressions to ensure you do not have too large of a reach.
    • Keep in mind the size of your intended first-party audience list/s.

Example of DV360 Line Item Reach Widget 
PRO TIP: Use the “reach widget” to the right of your line Item settings to view its total reach potential prior to turning on optimized targeting. (Note: the reach widget will not take into account or reflect any increase in available impressions that optimized targeting may generate).

Review your audience size under the “All Audiences” tab in the advertiser view_

PRO TIP: Review your audience size under the “All Audiences” tab in the advertiser view.

  • Optimized targeting functions similarly to how automated bidding models work. Allow up to two weeks for the algorithm to learn and calibrate, as spend/performance may fluctuate when you initially turn on the feature.
    • Optimized targeting should not exceed spend or Target CPA (tCPA) goals, although it may, in some instances due to setup. Carefully observe these line Items as the system continues to learn by pulling campaign performance reports throughout your campaign fight.
  • Generate a report in DV360 using the optimized targeting dimension to measure which impressions come from optimized targeting and which come from your selected segments.
    • Yes: Impressions that come from optimized targeting.
    • No: Impressions that come from your selected segments.

Not Recommended for Optimized Targeting:

  • Impression-based budgets: there are system limitations when using impression-based budgets and optimized targeting together. Often, a line Item will overspend in DV360 when these two are combined, even with tight targeting and a relatively smaller reach. 
  • Note: Google does not offer any credits for impression-based budgets.
  • Broad targeting with a high available impression reach.
  • DMA targeting: this geo-targeting approach combined with optimized targeting may result in inventory targeted outside of the set DMA targeting. 


  • Optimized targeting is not currently available for Connected TV (CTV) line Items.
  • Optimized targeting is currently available for YouTube Action line Items only. This feature is currently not available for all other YouTube line Item types. You can still use Audience Expansion for these YouTube Line Items.
  • Targeting a first-party audience list positively and negatively at the same time.

Be Aware of System Default:

Optimized targeting will be automatically enabled for new display, video, and audio line items using automated bid strategies when targeting the following audiences:

  • Google Affinity audiences
  • Google In-market audiences
  • Google Custom audiences
Note: If you have new line items where optimized targeting is automatically turned on, and you do not want this feature enabled, then you must manually disable OT in line item settings.

Where Can I Find More Information?

If you have questions about Google’s new performance-based, privacy-safe audience expansion feature prior to launching a campaign, please contact us or reach out to your dedicated account rep.