November 12th 2020
Custom audiences on Google are an amazing way to capture users who are interested in a particular product or service that is not readily available on Google’s custom affinity list. It’s important to note, that you can use custom audiences across display and video (including gmail campaigns). I know what you’re thinking, it would be awesome to use this for search, but unfortunately it’s not available for us…yet!
Up until this year, custom audiences were split into two categories, ‘Custom Intent’ and ‘Custom Affinity’, now, this is just one section where you can effectively add both custom interests (affinity) and custom keywords (intent). In order to get to this section, navigate to ‘Tools & Settings’ in your Google Ads account, then ‘Audience Manager’.
From there you’ll see two tabs, one for remarketing, the section where you bring in first party data from analytics and other places (see more on this by viewing my post on analytics audiences), and another for custom audiences.
Then, click the blue plus sign to open up the audience creation modal:
I should have mentioned, before you do anything, think carefully about your product offering and the type of person you want to promote to, think about what things they would be researching, what questions they will be asking google, and perhaps some websites they might frequently visit. You may have done some persona research previously and have all this information to hand, if not, it might be that you get the pen and paper out, and brainstorm competitors search queries, or jot down some websites would be applicable for a particular product, once you’ve done that, you’ll be able to build your custom audience lists to perfection.
So, once you’ve figured all of that out, you can start to build your custom audience lists, which consist of:
- People with interests or purchase intentions – This can be literally anything you like and usually something that you won’t find under Google’s standard affinity audience sets, so if you have a unique product it’s likely it won’t be in the standard list, but luckily you can create your own and target those people. Let’s say you had a website that only sold snake food (yes, food for snakes!) you could try looking for this in the audience targeting section when you are creating your campaign, this is what you would see:
Possibly you might get what you need from reptile pets and supplies (also note here that the top 3 are automatically generated custom intent audiences, which is a good way to short cut audiences without adding them in tools and settings), however, if you wanted to go one step further and drill down on snake food, or target users who have shown an interest in a particular type of snake, then this is where you would add it in as a custom audience.
- People who searched for any of these terms on Google – What an amazing way to get in front of your ideal audience, actually target them with a message on display or video after they have searched for something! Think about that for a second, you could actually sweep up competitor traffic and gain some market share just by adding in your biggest competitors, it’s an awesome way to promote your product by leveraging on the success of others, sorry not sorry! Another good use of this is to add things like high volume keywords, and perhaps question-based keywords that you know users will using
- People who browse types of websites – Another great way of targeting your perfect audience, by adding your competitors URL’s, or URL’s that you know your visitors will visits, I mean, you could even add google.com to the list (probably best not to try that one unless you are seriously overlaying some demographic and have a small daily budget cap!)
- People who use types of apps – Again as with URL targeting, you can start typing in an app and if it’s available you will be able to select it for targeting. Now Google says in the tool tip here “Your ads will reach people who download and use apps similar to the ones you enter.” Note the term ‘similar’ this means it’s not saying we will target everyone who uses this app, but in all likelihood, your impressions will come from those people using that app, make sense? No, I didn’t think so!
- People who visited these places – What these means is categories of places, so you wouldn’t be able to add for example ‘the statue of liberty’ in there, more like ‘attractions’ then you could combine other custom items, like ‘statue of liberty tickets’ as a keyword, then you would have a good chance of targeting those who have visited the attraction. Most likely though, you would use this to target people who have regularly been or regularly go to certain places, such as restaurants:
Once you’ve defined all of your new custom audiences, you can then go ahead and add them to ad groups, either as targeting or by the observation method (i.e. have all other targeting in place, and just observe the results of the audience):
So there you have it, an amazing way to accurately target your audience in a cost-effective manner across display, video, and gmail advertising. You can find out more about custom audiences in the official Google support pages here.