Digital Marketing Guide to Google Ads Audiences

google ads logo on a smartphone screen

Get Your Online Ads In Front of the Right People

Google Ads has long-offered Audiences in campaigns, but the tool doesn’t often get the recognition it deserves. Audiences are collections of users that Google creates based on their demographics and online interests. Using Audiences can optimize your campaigns and target users more efficiently. Successful marketers understand the types of Google Ads Audiences to manually optimize and improve campaign performance. 

There are five types of audiences generated within Google Ads:

  • Detailed Demographics
  • Affinity Audiences
  • In-Market Audiences
  • Remarketing Audiences
  • Life Events (Display & YouTube only)


Detailed Demographics in Google Ads

Detailed Demographics take into account the lifestyle of and general information about the audience. Google already collects basic demographic data like age and gender, but Detailed Demographics takes it a step further by breaking the audience out into four main categories: Parental Status, Marital Status, Education, and Homeownership Status. This breakdown allows marketers to see how specific groups of people respond to your ad campaigns, allowing you to tailor your ads to appeal even more to them. For example, using Detailed Demographics, your Kansas City business can target married parents with bachelor’s degrees who rent their home.

Target Your Business’s Demographic with Affinity Audiences

Affinity Audiences are created based on users’ interests and habits and is so named because it looks at the things people enjoy — or have an affinity for. These categories are a bit more extensive than Detailed Demographics and are focused on things like hobbies, preferences, and personal taste. It includes categories like Food & Dining, Shoppers, Travel, and more. Most categories have subcategories that allow you to drill down even further. For example, within the Shoppers category, you have subcategories like Bargain Hunters, Luxury Shoppers, Shopaholics, and Value Shoppers. Understanding who your audience is and putting your ads in front of people who are already interested in your product or service is an effective way of increasing conversions, lead generation, and revenue.

Get Conversions from In-Market Audiences

In-Market Audiences take Affinity Audiences a step further. This group is composed of users who are actively researching or planning to purchase a product or service. If you’re looking for conversions, this audience is for you! Google identifies people who are in the market for whatever you specialize in, and shows them your ad to help drive them to your website to complete their purchase. Categories are generally broad and include examples like Auto & Vehicles, Consumer Electronics, and Real Estate. 

Bring People Back to Your Site with Remarketing Tactics

Remarketing Audiences are made up of users who already have interacted with your business. If they have previously visited your website or converted, they can be remarketed to, to keep what you’re selling at the top of their minds. Remarketing Audiences also allow you to target people who visited your site, but left without making a purchase. Sometimes seeing an ad for your business is what it takes to get them to come back. 

Life Event Audiences for Google Display and YouTube Video Advertising

Life Event Audiences are created with users who are in the midst of important life milestones. This audience is only available for Google Display and YouTube campaigns. Life Event audiences offer categories such as College Graduation, Marriage, Business Creation, and more. The Life Event Audience is especially helpful if your product or service is relevant to these life changes. 

Using Google Ads Audiences

Now that you understand how Google Ads breaks down its Audiences tool, your next question probably is, “How can I use Google Ads Audiences to my benefit?” 

When looking to utilize Audiences in Google Ads, you can choose either Observation or Targeting. Certain campaign types benefit more from one or the other option. 

Observation Audiences allow you to see where the traffic from your ad campaign is coming from by observing the actions of the audience you selected for your campaign. Observation Audiences are more suited to Google Search campaigns because you can gather more detailed information about the traffic coming from your keyword targeting. That’s not to say you can’t target audiences in search campaigns, too, but search campaigns don’t have the option to only run audience targeting. So, if you add audience targeting with keyword targeting, you run the risk of limiting your campaign and missing its target daily spend or undercutting the overall budget. We recommend letting your campaign run using keyword targeting and first observe the audiences to see which are successful. After you’ve run the campaign for a good amount of time, you can see if any of the audiences are performing well above the rest and change that observation audience to a targeted audience. You can set up as many observation audiences as you want without affecting how your campaign performs.

Targeted Audiences are more suited to Google Display and YouTube campaigns because you have the option to only run audience targeting in those campaign types. This eliminates the risk of limiting the campaigns. The audiences you are targeting tell you exactly who you will be showing your ads to, so it takes some of the unknown out of the equation that you can have when you use keyword targeting.

Let the Experts Use Google Audiences For You

Audiences can be a very beneficial tool for your Google Ads campaigns, but they also can hinder performance if they’re not used correctly. It’s one thing to know who might be included in an audience, but it’s much more complicated to understand which audiences to observe or target, and when. At iFocus Marketing, based in Kansas City, Austin, Denver, and St. Louis, and serving businesses nationwide, we bring the knowledge and expertise to successfully navigate that complex task. If you’re ready to get the most out of Google Ads and the many audiences it offers, contact us today!


Update 7/20/2020 

On July 10 Google released new updates to audience creation using predictive behavior modeling from Google Analytics properties. These new audiences would need to be created in Google Analytics, and then connected to your Google Ads account for targeting in Search, Display, Gmail, or YouTube networks.

screenshot of example setup of google ads custom audience creation

Using machine learning to create artificial intelligence bidding models has become increasingly popular. Today’s world of predictive marketing has given marketers the ability to determine the right bids and target audiences for the highest return on investment or return on ad spend. The new predictive audience gives e-commerce and lead based businesses even more data at their fingertips. When building audiences in the Google Analytics you’ll see the options for predictive audiences using these two metrics:

Purchase Probability: Users deemed most likely to make a purchase within the next seven days. Targeting beyond solely abandoned carts and reaching visitors who only viewed items or pages but are seen as likely to make a future purchase.

Churn Probability: Active visitors deemed unlikely to visit your website in the next seven days. Previous visitors who are unlikely to come back to your website on their own within the week.

There are two predictive audience options based on these new metrics:

Purchase Probability audiences: Likely 7-day purchasers and Likely first-time 7-day purchasers.

Churn Probability audiences: Likely 7-day churning purchasers and Likely 7-day churning users. Give past site visitors reason to come back.

Google also released the Analysis module, where you can now use these new predictive metrics to build reports such as understanding which marketing campaigns brought in users deemed to have the highest Purchase Probability.

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