What are Custom Audiences?

Often, the most effective way to utilise Audiences in Google Display Network campaigns is to include Remarketing Lists; putting your ad in front of people who have previously engaged with your website or app, stretching back over different time periods from 7 days to 540 days. This can encompass people who have already purchased your product or even those who have come close to doing so but have as yet not converted. But what if you are looking to attract new customers and expand your reach and impact beyond repeat business? This is where custom audiences come in. Traditionally, Google has had other audience types to cover this such as Affinity and In-Market audiences. However, custom audiences contain targeting options that allow us to be more granular and effective than before by targeting in 3 different ways:

  • Keywords:
    • You can build a keyword bank based on what people have searched for that match customers’ interests and behaviours
      • This can be especially useful for YouTube campaigns, where a keyword list can be constructed in a similar fashion to a Search campaign

  • URLs:
    • You can include specific URLs for companies similar to your own, thereby putting your ad in front of people who’ve visited relevant sites

  • Apps:
    • Advertisers can target people who they think may use apps similar to their own by adding names of apps that your target customer may use
      • An important caveat here is that your ad will not necessarily show on the targeted app itself, rather it will show for people who are interested in the listed apps

  • Places:
    • This lets you target people who’ve visited specific locations – i.e. shopping centres, sports grounds, etc. – adding increased behavioural relevance for your campaign beyond online search intent

How to create Custom Audiences

At the top of the Google Ads dashboard, select ‘Tools & Settings’, then ‘Audience Manager’. From here, select ‘Custom Audiences’ and then click the blue plus (‘+’) button, which allows you to begin building your new Custom Audience, selecting from the targeting options outlined above.

Once this has been created, you can see a summary of the reach and potential profile of the new audience. This breakdown includes estimated weekly impressions, gender, age, parental status, related topics of interest.

How to apply Custom Audiences most effectively

A key thing to look out for when setting up Custom Audiences is the campaign goal. This is important as the objective of your campaign will impact your targeting. For instance, you would want to have more nuanced, targeted audiences in place for a campaign that has a Sales campaign goal, targeting those most likely to convert, as opposed to having a wider audience that would be more suitable for Brand Awareness and Reach.

Custom audiences work best when taking learnings from in-market and affinity audiences too. By looking at how existing audiences have performed over time, you can start to group these by theme and add new segments to a custom audience based on this. Doing this allows you to set up well targeted and contextually relevant messaging aimed at potential customers. Putting your ads in front of a highly targeted audience can drive really cost efficient campaigns with strong returns, reducing any possible wastage that a more broad audience might have.

In conclusion…

Custom audiences are a really effective tool at advertisers’ disposal. For the best application of these, they should be combined with a relevant and appropriate campaign goal, as well as including key takeaways from in-market and affinity audiences when initially building the audiences. With a straightforward set up too, building and implementing custom audiences is a simple and great way to put yourself in front of potential customers to help drive improvements across your KPIs.

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