There are many options to choose from when deciding on the targeting strategy for your campaigns. You can go broad and do a Run-of-Network campaign, you can target a specific set of countries and go for Multi-Geo or you can rely on previously gathered whitelist data and launch a Source/Target campaign. But these are not all of the options. If you know exactly what sort of websites or content your target audience is looking for, you can choose the option of keyword targeting.

What is keyword targeting?

Keyword targeting works in a similar way to Source targeting. While creating your campaign you need to submit a list of keywords. The traffic will come from sources or domains aggregated by publishers and containing selected phrases. Publishers working with traffic sources group their inventory by categories to help in more accurate keyword matching.

For pop traffic, keywords are matched with the content or name of a website that a visitor is on.

For domain traffic, keywords are matched with the misspelled domain names.

To make it simpler - if you’re running an e-commerce campaign and you’re promoting activewear you can use keywords such as ‘activewear’, ‘sportswear’ or ‘workout clothes’ in order to receive traffic from websites displaying exactly that kind of content.

Users who are already looking to purchase this kind of product are a lot more likely to click on your ad and become interested in what you have to offer.

For step-by-step instructions on how to set up a keyword campaign with Zeropark watch the video below.

How and when to use keyword targeting?

Just as we’ve mentioned above, keyword targeting works great for e-commerce campaigns. In case of running ads for actual products, the most effective way of targeting is displaying those ads on thematically similar websites. In the case of domain traffic, if a user wanting to buy shoes misspells the url and the correct url happens to be one of your keywords, they will then be redirected straight to your ad. And if your lander guides them to a shop with shoes and they actually did want to get to an online shop with shoes they are bound to at least look around.

The most frequently asked question about keyword targeting is whether you can bid on popular website names. The answer is yes, that’s what keyword targeting is all about. Bid on website names in addition to words and phrases that match the content you are promoting.

In order to use keyword targeting properly, follow these 3 simple rules:

  1. Keep it simple. Don’t use special characters (such as @, #, &) or unusual word merges (for example: sportclothing) and when using domain names skip the http:// or www part of the address and use the pattern instead.

  2. Keep it short. Google search style doesn’t work for keywords. It’s best to use one word keywords. Multi-word keywords are supported as well but keep in mind that the longer the phrase the less traffic will match your phrase.

  3. Keep it correct. Do not use misspelled domain names as your keywords. Use the correct names and the keywords will still be matched with the misspelled domains.
If you’re still wondering if keyword targeting is for you then let me assure you that it works well for almost any vertical. It’s especially recommended for more specific offers such as e-commerce, crypto, streaming (such as Netflix or Hulu), services and any other offer that targets a particular niche.

Do you ever read an article about a certain subject and see that certain words are hyperlinked? That’s one of the forms of injection traffic. It comes from a toolbar inserting pop ads into a webpage. When a user types in a URL, ads are injected under keywords linking to affiliate offers. The ads are then triggered automatically by the toolbars/extensions installed in user browsers.

Injection traffic together with keyword targeting and the e-commerce vertical is the perfect combination for well optimized and lucrative campaigns.

If we absolutely had to point out one vertical that might not be the best idea for keyword targeting then we would say that sweepstakes might be simply too general to work with keywords.

The smaller and more specific the niche the more sense it makes to use keywords.

Broad vs. Exact Keyword Targeting

Keeping in mind that each website is ‘tagged’ by a number of keywords that describe its contents in the most accurate way, let me explain how keywords that you add to your campaigns are tallied with the keywords attached to a website.

There are two ways of keyword matching.

Broad keyword targeting means that not only the keyword that you submitted but also the variations of that keyword will be matched with the website keywords.

So, for example, if you used ‘store’ as a keyword with broad keyword targeting it means that you will also bid on traffic containing your keyword, so "store" would also buy traffic from "" and "". It also means that you would bid on subdomains such as "" or "".

Broad targeting works well with domain traffic as "shoes" will target "sport shoes", "high-heeled shoes" or "best shoes for hiking".

Exact keyword targeting means that the traffic source will only send you traffic when there is an exact match between the website keyword and your keyword.

So if you used "store" as the keyword it would mean that you would not bid on traffic that did not match this exactly, meaning that you would not receive traffic from websites tagged as "" or "".

If your keyword is rather short like, for example, “hat” then you should definitely go for exact targeting in order to avoid matching with keywords such as "chat" or "haters".


Negative keywords option allows you to exclude particular keywords from searches in both broad and exact keyword targeting. You can set negative keywords when there is a particular phrase or domain that you do not want to receive traffic from.

For example, if you’re advertising an e-commerce store selling belts you will want to receive traffic from all sorts of keywords related to clothes, fashion and accessories but you would not want to bid on websites such as Setting negative keywords allows you to optimize your traffic by avoiding inaccurate matches (caused often by ambiguous words or similar names of completely different brands).

How to find relevant keywords?

One of the simplest ways of finding matching keywords is using tools such as Zeropark’s Traffic Calculator. The traffic calculator shows historical data on the volumes of the most popular keywords. It’s a great place to start your search as it shows keywords receiving the most volume together with their average bids.

If you don’t find the keyword you’re looking for in the traffic calculator don’t worry, it doesn’t mean your keyword doesn’t exist, it simply means we don’t have enough data to tell you the exact volume and bid price.

Keywords can be anything. Google the item you are promoting and look for words that are most often used to describe it. If you’re trying to sell a travel guide simply google the words and use the websites that popped up on the first page of the search as keywords.

Use online resources. For example, a page like allows you to see 25 keywords related to a particular category with their volumes for free. 25 keywords is definitely enough to provide sufficient volume to your campaign.

Still not enough keywords? Use the affiliate tools. Spy on your competitors using spy tools and search the forum for inspiration. Don’t be afraid to ask questions!


Common Mistakes

If your keyword campaigns are not performing as well as you thought they would you might have made some simple mistakes that are preventing the traffic from being matched correctly. Before you decide to change the targeting, please take a look at the list of common mistakes and make sure you’re not making any of them:

  1. Using the whole url instead of the relevant part only ( ❌ vs. ✅ or ❌ vs. travel guide ✅)

  2. Entering misspelled keywords. Yes, buying traffic from misspelled domains is a good practice and that’s why the keyword algorithm already matches keywords with their misspelled versions (youtibe ❌ vs. youtube ✅)

  3. Using special characters. If you use them, they will be included in keyword searches which might drastically limit your traffic (make + $$ ❌ vs. make money ✅)

  4. Using long phrases. Even if you think your product is best described by a phrase of four words it’s highly unlikely that there are many websites tagged by an identical cluster of words. (cheap flights canary islands ❌ vs. travel ✅, cheap flights ✅, canary islands ✅)

  5. Using the wrong targeting settings. Don’t forget about the options to set negative keywords and use broad and exact targeting according to your needs.

Hopefully, this article contains enough information to make you comfortable trying keyword targeting (that is, if you haven’t already, of course). As always, the community is here to support you and if you have any questions shoot us a DM or ask in the comments down below.