Your Guide to Google’s Paid Search Audiences

Guide to Google Paid Search Audiences
Guide to Google Paid Search Audiences

It’s common sense: the more you know about your audience, the easier it is to sell to them. And luckily for today’s online sellers and search marketers, there’s a ton of information about your audience. You just need to know where to look.

Google Ads allows you to analyze each of your audiences to uncover insights that reveal behavior, demographics, interests, and more so you can boost campaign performance and display the most relevant offers possible.

Here’s a bit more about Google’s paid search audiences and how you might use them.

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Where Do You Find Google’s Paid Search Audiences?

First things first. To use Google Audiences effectively, you’ll need to know where to find them.

Log into your Google Ads account and click the tools icon in the top right corner of your screen. 

Select “Shared Library” and choose Audience Manager from the drop-down menu.

Once you’re in, you’ll see three sections: 

Paid search audiences, Google audiences

Audience Sources

Audience sources is where you can add in first-party data sources that can be used to inform your ad campaigns. These sources may include:

  • Google Ads Tag—Allows you to use data from your website to inform remarketing lists and conversion tracking.
  • Google Analytics—Allows you to create an audience based on insights uncovered in your Google Analytics account. You’ll need to link Analytics with Google Ads to take advantage of this option.
  • Customer Data—Advertisers can add data from their website, email lists, Facebook, or other external sources, which can then be used in PPC campaigns.  
  • YouTube—Remarket to people who watch your YouTube videos. The benefit here is that you can track what users do after watching a video and experiment with CTA overlays to drive traffic.  

Audience Lists

Audience Lists is where you’ll build and store lists based on your audience sources. Lists include website visitors, YouTube users, customer lists, and custom lists based on your audience habits, interests, and demographics. 

You can layer lists by combining multiple audience sources and add them to ad groups from this tab. As you can see here, when you select a list (or two) Google gives you a breakdown of projected reach and price:

Paid search audiences, Google audiences

Audience Insights

This report aims to uncover new opportunities and highlights information related to your remarketing lists. 

This report is organized into two sections: in-market audiences and affinity audiences. In-market audiences represent people who are actively searching for products and services like yours, while affinity audiences are based on habits, lifestyles, and interests.

Targeting with Paid Search Audiences 

Not every audience type is compatible with every campaign. 

This chart from Google’s support blog breaks down the basics for which campaigns and audience types can be used together. 

Display campaigns are typically focused on reaching new customers or remarketing to old ones. As such, affinity audiences and remarketing audiences work best, because you’ll want to get searchers to remember your brand. 

Search can be used to reach new audiences, but brands can really capitalize on high-intent shoppers by targeting in-market searchers actively looking up similar products and services. 

Paid search audiences, Google audiences

Demographic Targeting

While Facebook and Bing have long been targeting users with intent in mind, Google has only recently added Demographic Targeting to their ads platform. 

This report allows you to understand the demographic breakdown and interests of your audience. 

Paid search audiences, Google audiences

You can also exclude certain groups if they prove to be “low-value users” or don’t qualify for your service. Google uses the example of excluding male searchers from a campaign run by a female-only spa. 

Beware of leaving out groups that might not match your exact target demographic. While this illustration is an older one, it serves as a good reminder that leaning on stereotypes or assumptions about users means losing out on conversions. 

Paid search audiences, Google audiences

Custom Intent Audiences

Custom intent audiences allow marketers to target people who are currently researching specific products, topics, or solutions in the search network, as well as on YouTube or a display partner’s site.

Custom intent audiences do take some time to set up, but they provide some really powerful benefits. They allow you to market to your competitor’s buyers by targeting top-selling products and high-traffic pages. 

Advertisers can target both keywords and URLs to build their audience; as you can see here, you’ll start the process by naming your audience and then adding in the terms and pages you’d like to target.

Paid search audiences, Google audiences

In this example, a small online pet store can target visitors to the URLs of major brands like Chewy and Petco, with their own ads displayed next time those users search for dog treats. 

Paid search audiences, Google audiences

Custom Affinity Audiences

Custom affinity audiences are primarily used to increase awareness and brand reach, as well as promote content tailored to specific people.

Targeting is based on user preferences like what kinds of media they consume or the products and services they are interested in. Advertisers choose interests they’d like to target and Google applies its algorithm to define the audience for you.

Custom affinity was created to give advertisers more control over their targeting options on the display network. Google’s affinity audiences come with some limitations, and the system can force brands to box their audiences into categories that sometimes don’t quite fit. 

Here’s an example of someone creating a custom affinity audience targeting first-time moms. In this case, the advertiser is attempting to reach new moms by running an awareness campaign that will display ads on websites related to motherhood.

Paid search audiences, Google audiences

Custom Affinity vs. Custom Intent: What’s the Difference

Custom affinity and custom intent have several things in common. Both allow advertisers to target their audiences based on a set of keywords and URLs. However, there are some key differences that you’ll need to be aware of. Click To Tweet

Custom Affinity keywords center around your audience’s interests: think food, football, arts, and music. Any URLs you add should be websites that your audience might use regularly, such as news outlets and blogs they might read, places they might shop, etc. 

The goal is typically to increase awareness, and there is a high likelihood that your ads will display to searchers who aren’t actively seeking out your product. With that in mind, it’s a good idea to make sure that your ad copy and offers work for a top-of-the-funnel audience who has no prior knowledge of your products or services.

By contrast, Custom Intent keywords and URLs should relate to products and services that your audience is actively researching. This audience is ready to shop and actively looking for a product that meets their needs. As such, ad copy should take on a tone suited to the consideration or conversion stage of shopping, with the ad presenting an offer too good to resist. In other words, you should emphasize the deal, not information on the product or service.

Remarketing Audiences

Remarketing audiences include people who have interacted with your business before. For e-commerce brands, remarketing is a great way to encourage repeat visits from people who abandoned their shopping cart or bought something a while back.

There are a few ways you can use remarketing lists to reconnect with past visitors. Here’s a quick look:

  • Email List Remarketing—This option, also known as Customer Match, allows you to upload a list of customers and serve ads to them if they are logged into a Google account (e.g. YouTube, Gmail, or Chrome). 
  • Remarketing Lists for Search Ads (RSLA)—This option will allow you to target past visitors on the Search Network. You can target and customize ads designed to reach these visitors in the SERPs or on Google Search Partner sites. 
  • Video Remarketing—This option allows you to deliver ads to people who have watched your videos on YouTube or on a Display Network partner site. 

You can build remarketing audiences on Google Analytics or directly in your Google Ads account.

Wrapping Up

For e-commerce brands, this ability to target custom audiences with high buying intent is game-changing. 

This article just scratches the surface when it comes to Google Audiences. As you can see, there’s a lot you can do to further optimize your PPC campaigns and learn about your target audiences. 

Need help leveraging audience insights? Not sure where to begin? 

We help e-commerce stores grow by taking advantage of PPC opportunities that bring the right traffic to your site. This means building audiences primed to buy and applying the tactics that promise the most bang for your buck. 

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