First of all, what are audiences in the context of paid search? What do they do? And why should you use them as part of your marketing strategy? When you develop a business strategy, one of the fundamental principles is to know your market. Who is your customer? What do you want them to do? While answering these questions you get closer and closer to identifying your end customer.

Why Use Audiences?

Audiences are groups of people with specific interests, intent, and demographics developed by Google. They are groups to who you can show your ads to. Audiences can help cultivate your customers based on actions performed by previous visitors within the path to conversion. When you think of audience targeting, you may primarily think of social media platforms. However, search ads also have the advantage of allowing you to serve an ad based on what the consumer is in market for. Understanding where your consumers are within the funnel can be curated by using this audience data based on the interactions they’ve had with your site. Additionally, Google can use your site data to identify potential customers that have not yet interacted with your site but have similar searches and behaviors on sites similar to yours.

How Do You Find Your Audiences, And Which Should You Use?

Google has a list of predetermined audiences that can be set up within the Ads platform. There’s also Similar Audiences, which are audiences Google identifies to have performed similar searches and actions to those custom segments you set up. Custom Audiences can be identified by creating segments in Google Analytics. These audiences can be segmented based on how a visitor has interacted with your site. You can observe which actions are more predictive of conversion than others. Once you’ve identified these actions and created segments based on these actions, you can then determine how you want to manage and bid on these audiences within Google Ads. Additionally, you can determine which users you’d be willing to invest more in based on previous revenue data.

Audience segments built from website visitors can be targeted within their own campaigns, which is usually how retargeting campaigns are set up. This will immediately limit your reach. Google is making it much simpler to manage retargeting within existing campaigns by allowing these audience types to be set up in observation mode. Observation mode allows you to gather performance data based on actions performed by the audience segment created. You can then begin to increase or decrease bid adjustments based on the metric you optimize toward.

Prospecting campaigns can be created to increase relevant traffic using Similar Audiences. Similar Audiences are audience lists determined by Google that are constantly updated, so if a user does engage with your site, they’ll drop off the Similar Audience list. Google requires specific criteria to be met to qualify for Similar Audiences. Once they are identified and you begin to collect data on these audience segments, you can start adjusting your bid modifications based on your performance metrics.

Additional Audiences Predefined By Google

The Audience tab is where you can add different audience types. To add an audience, select from the “Browse” tab. There, you will find a couple of options including:

  • “Who they are” – These are detailed demographics about the user, including Parental Status, Homeowners, Education, and Marital Status
  • “What they are actively researching or planning”- This category helps identify those currently in-market and actively searching from categories ranging from apparel and accessories, financial services to travel related searches
  • “How have they interacted with your business” – Here’s where you’ll find what we were discussing around website visitors and developing your Similar Audience lists

Within “website visitors” Google populates a few items like All Visitors and All Converters. But when you identify additional segments within Google Ads and your Ads account and Analytics accounts are linked to share data, you call pull these segments into Google Ads to curate data and modify your bids accordingly. Google also has “Combined lists.” These lists are managed by Google and includes users from available data sources connected to you Google Ads account. Interestingly, it can include website visitors and other types of users from audiences’ sources. Finally, you have “Similar Audiences,” which again are Google generate audiences that have completed similar searches and actions to those audience segments you created in Google Analytics and pulled into Google Ads. Google can also curate ideas for your account in the following areas: based on your search campaigns, based on advertisers like you, based on your website, and similar to your selection.

Using Detailed Demographics

Here’s an area where you can really dial in to the more granular demographics of searchers to modify your bid, based on the performance of the demographic ranges set up by Google. The first range is age. When thinking about who is purchasing your product (which may not be the people using your product) you can set adjustments to increase the bid to searchers matching specific criteria or decrease the bid similarly. Initially, when you set this up, you can set smaller modifications based on your assumptions. Once you’ve determined a specific range is converting, you can then leverage these conversions to the overall performance metrics. Additional demographic ranges include gender and household income.

How It All Gets Put Together

Once you’ve identified all the segments you want to collect data on and set them up in observation mode, you can start to set bid adjustments to increase the percentage of a bid by a certain amount or decrease a bid by a certain amount based on the success metric you optimize toward. When you increase the bid percentage you are setting parameters to, you increase the likelihood of your ad showing up when the searcher falls into one of the audience segments you’ve identified as a convertible or on path to convert segment. Keep in mind, you are making multiple adjustments based on multiple data points, but they will all work together. You’ll want to start initially with smaller adjustments. As you find specific audiences doing well, you can then create campaigns to specifically target these audience types, while still curating data to ensure you account for purchasing trends and changes to consumer behavior on their path to purchase.