Audience targeting

The digital marketing strategies have drastically evolved with the rise of machine learning, AI and social media platforms. It is now extremely important for paid media advertisers to show their ads to the right people at the right time in the right places.

The challenge of today’s marketers is to break through the clutter of data and connect with new and existing customers. How to use existing information about your existing customers to further connect with them on a deeper level is a big question mark.

Well, Google makes it all possible! With newer ways to reach the right consumer which no other digital marketing partner can, giving you the tools to turn complex data into actionable insights. Audience Targeting is one of many tools in its arsenal which helps you narrow down and better target our potential customers and target markets.

Refined audience data enables you to hone in on the precise user who is most likely to care about your brand or product. It also aids in maximizing your ROI by discovering newer audiences whom you had never considered before.

Let’s dig deeper…

What is an audience?

An audience is one of the many ways in which we can better target our potential customers and target markets in Google Display and Search Network. According to Google, “Audiences are groups of people with specific interests, intents, and demographics, as estimated by Google.. you can select from a wide range of categories – such as fans of sport and travel, people shopping for cars, or specific people that have visited your site.”

In today’s time, audiences have emerged as a powerful tool, which helps us, digital marketers, to better navigate the massive Search, Display, YouTube, and Gmail markets.

How audience targeting works?

While I may not be able to provide you with an exact answer as to how Google determines audiences, I hope to provide you with some insights into Google audiences, as well as some actionable takeaways on how to use the audience lists that Google provides you.

Audience Targeting Cheat-sheet

Campaign typeAudience type
DisplayAffinity, Custom affinity: What their interests and habits are Custom intent, In-market: What they are actively researching or planning Remarketing: How they have interacted with your business in past Similar audiences: New users with similar interests to your site/app visitors’
SearchIn-market: What they are actively researching or planning Remarketing: How they have interacted with your business Customer Match: What you know about your customers’ activities Similar audiences: New users with similar interests to your site visitors
VideoAffinity, Custom affinity: What their interests and habits are Custom intent, Life events, In-market: What they are actively researching or planning Remarketing: How they have interacted with your business Customer Match: What you know about your customers’ activities Similar audiences: New users with similar interests to your site visitors

Detailed demographics

Google recently introduced detailed demographics targeting which enables us to target our campaigns to different users based on their Age, Gender, Education, Marital Status, Homeowner Status, Household Income, Parental Status, etc. Digital Marketers can use this tool to bid differently on different demographics, exclude certain demographics from targeting, or even exclusively target a specific demographic in their campaigns.

Options in Target Demographics Include –

Age

  • 18-24
  • 25-34
  • 35-44
  • 45-54
  • 55-64
  • 65+
  • Unknown

Parental Status

  • Parents of Infants (0-1 years)
  • Parents of Toddlers (1-3 years)
  • Parents of Preschoolers (4-5 years)
  • Parents of Grade schoolers (6 -12 years)
  • Parents of Teens (13 – 17 years)

Marital Status

  • Single
  • In a relationship
  • Married

Education

  • Current College Students
  • High School Graduates
  • Obtained Bachelor’s Degree
  • Obtained Advanced Degree

Homeowner Status

  • Homeowners
  • Renters

Types of Audiences:

Affinity audiences

Affinity audiences involves people with long term interest in a product or service. Affinity targeting analyses someone’s overall interests, passions, and lifestyle to get a better sense of their overall identity. It looks for your buying behaviours or interests and browsing habits of individuals and shows them the relevant ads, they might be interested in. Affinity targeting looks at their long-standing passions and interests.

Custom affinity audiences

While in affinity audiences you can select from a google-curated list, with custom affinity audiences, as the name suggests, you can create your own affinity audience and reach exactly the people you’re looking for, using audience parameters. Custom affinity audiences are created by using a combination of:

  • Interests entered as keyword phrases
  • URLs to create interest categories based on the content of the website
  • Types of places that people are interested in, or
  • Apps that an ideal customer might be interested in.

This doesn’t mean that your ads will show on the apps you specified, but rather to users that have similar apps on their mobile devices. For example, if you enter Google Fit, Google Ads will find users that have fitness-related apps

Life events

With Google you can now target viewers on YouTube and Gmail around important life milestones, such as graduation, moving into new homes, or getting married.

You should expect to reach a smaller audience with Life Events compared to affinities as Life Events are fewer and infrequent. However, since life events may correspond with many related purchasing decisions, they’re often larger than in-market categories which correspond with a single purchasing decision.

In-market audiences

You can now target audience who are actively researching or considering buying a product or service similar to yours with In-Market Audiences. One can expect higher conversion rates while using this tool as the customer is already in the final stages of the sales funnel and therefore the bid is also on the higher side.

You can find a list of Google-curated In Market categories here.

Custom intent audiences

These are a more granular form of targeting that allows you to target people who are in the market for the specific products and services you are offering. Custom intent audiences are available on the display network only. You can use custom intent audiences to segment your ad groups for a specific vertical or landing page. Or, you can use auto-created segments, or define your own audience by entering in-market keywords, URLs and apps related to products and services your ideal customer is researching across sites and apps. You can focus on 300 to 500 general keywords that your ideal audience would most likely use in a search.

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