YouTube Ads Changes: Keyword Targeting to be Removed For Certain Campaigns in 2023


If you work with Google Ads and run video campaigns on YouTube to drive conversions, you may have noticed this notification warning of some big changes coming and may be worried about the future of your campaigns.

Google has begun to let ad creators know that they will be removing all content targeting options for the “Drive Conversions” subtype of video campaign in 2023. This includes keyword targeting and all other types of content targeting.

You might be wondering:

  • What does this mean?
  • When does this take effect?
  • What should I do about this?
  • How will this affect my campaigns?

If so, keep reading, because Top Floor has put together everything you need to know about this update so you can stop worrying about your campaigns, and successfully adjust to these changes.

Everything We Know About Changes to YouTube Conversion Video Ad Targeting Options in 2023

According to a new Google Ads Help Article, as well as notifications being sent out in the Google Ads platform, Google now recommends avoiding adding content targeting for video (YouTube) ads that are targeting conversions.

Not only does this include keyword targeting, but topic or placement targeting.

Which Types of Campaigns Will These Changes Affect?

Don’t worry, Google isn’t removing targeting options for every type of video ad campaign. These changes are only for the “Drive Conversions” campaign type.

When Will Content Targeting Options for These Campaigns Be Removed?

According to Google, you will no longer be able to add any new content or keyword targeting options to both new or existing conversion campaigns “in the coming months”.

Additionally, any existing campaigns of this type that are using content targeting will have their targeting settings automatically removed sometime in early 2023.

However, Google hasn’t announced an exact date for either of these changes to take effect.
We will update this article once the final date is released, so make sure to bookmark this, check back later, and keep an eye on your campaigns!

How Can I Remove Targeting Options for Existing Conversion Campaigns?

You can remove your targeting options for all of your existing conversion video campaigns by following these directions from Google:

Why are These Targeting Options Being Removed?

Google says that they are removing content targeting because they are limiting your campaign’s performance. They claim that video campaigns made to drive conversions usually perform better without a keyword, topic, or placement targeting.

To put it simply: Google thinks that its algorithms are better at determining who should see your video ads than you, so they are removing the option for you to specify them.
Google is moving towards automation, so they want advertisers to put all of their focus into the ad creative, while they take care of the targeting and putting your ad in front of customers that will convert.

In theory, if Google is correct, then your ad campaigns should do better afterward, but that may not be the case for some.

It seems like this may be better for large brands, who have very large ad spends, that Google’s algorithms can gather tons of data on to finely tune who their ads get shown to.
Although it may not be as good for small businesses that target micro niches and have their targeting finely tuned through targeting, while not spending as much on ads as large brands. However, this is just a hypothesis, and there is not yet any data available to back this up.

The only way to know for sure if this change will help or hurt your ad campaigns is to test how your campaigns perform without targeting options.

How To Prepare For These Changes to Content Targeting?

Rather than waiting until content targeting is automatically removed from your ads to find out how it will affect your campaigns, it is best to begin testing other ads without content targeting to get ahead of the game.

The best course of action would be to set aside a portion of your ad budget to begin testing ad campaigns that don’t use these targeting features, to get a direct idea of how this change will end up affecting your campaigns.

Regardless, if you have conversion video ad campaigns that are still converting well, don’t shut them off yet. Anything that is converting well should be continued until the change takes effect.

Try Using Custom Segments

If you still want to run video ads of the drive conversion type after this update, then you should try testing some campaigns with custom segments, rather than content targeting.

You can add the same keywords you were using for your content targeting, and use this custom audience segment to “target” keywords and content for your future campaigns. And remember to keep testing, testing, and testing.

In conclusion, you should be aware of these changes and get ahead of the curve by testing campaigns without using content targeting options to see what works and doesn’t work for you.

The last thing you want is to be blindsided by the removal of these options, without knowing how this change is going to affect your campaigns or a plan on how to adapt to them.

If you have any questions about this update, or are struggling with Google Ads for your business and would like help maximizing your conversions, please Contact us. We will gladly answer any of your questions.