How to Set Up a Google Audiences for Campaign Targeting

Getting it right with a digital ad marketing campaign is tough.

Consumers are bombarded by ads from every direction on the internet. These are thrown out by companies in an attempt to convince online users to buy their products, enlist their services, and use their specialist tools.

Many of these ads are simply ignored without any thought. Others are so annoying they make people resent the brand they’re promoting. In a small number of cases, however, ads are effective in converting casual observers into regular customers.

As mentioned above, trying to fall into the latter category is a serious challenge. This is despite the fact that digital marketers have been blessed with an abundance of promotional tools that are readily available to use. In fact, the sheer volume of advertising routes to go down can cause marketers to become confused and lost. They’ll fling everything they have at the wall and hope something sticks. More often than not, nothing does stick, and it leads to a giant waste of a company’s marketing budget.

Google Audiences for Campaign Targeting

So, how can you strike success with your own ad campaign? How can you ensure your adverts always reach the right target audience, landing in front of potential customers who have an interest in your products or services?

Two words: Google Audiences.

What is Google Audiences?

As you can gather from the name, this is a feature that is offered by search giants Google. Yet what exactly does the ‘Audience’ part of the name mean? Simply put, this is a method that enhances your ability to target the right markets and potential customers. You have the ability to reach people based on specific characteristics, including their habits and hobbies, what they’re researching on Google, how they interact with your company and their general demographics.

For example, you are currently running a business that sells current mobile phones to a young audience. By using Google Audiences, you can target the exact people that will be interested in your products – those with an interest in technology and trends, and fall in the right age range – with your Google Ads.

If you want to be an effective online marketer, having a strong grasp of Google Audiences is essential. Along with improving your ability to navigate the Search, Display, Gmail, and YouTube markets under the Google banner, it presents a fantastic opportunity to grow the performance of your ad campaigns significantly.

Before you can start reaping the rewards, however, you need to gain an understanding of how Google Audiences work.

How do Google Audiences work?

To start with, you will need to identify the goals, behaviors, needs, and interests of the audience you plan to target. Once that has been done, you can define your audience for a specific campaign or ad group.

This is where everything can get a little confusing. There are various different audience targeting choices available, each with their own characteristics, processes, and perks. Below is a look at some of the most commonly utilized options with Google Audiences:

  • Affinity audiences: When you use affinity audiences, you have the ability to reach people who demonstrate a real passion for a certain topic. Their passion has been detailed based on their internet habits and lifestyles, giving advertisers a strong basis that, yes, affinity audiences are ones worth targeting with their own products and services. At present, Google offers over 140 affinity categories. These include everything from home & garden to social media enthusiasts.
Google Audiences
  • Custom affinity audiences: If you failed to find the right affinity category for your business, don’t worry. This is where custom affinity audiences come into play. As the name suggests, you have the ability to tailor the category to better fit with your company’s offerings. This can be done in various different ways. One of the easiest is to simply input keyword phrases that match up to the interests of your audience. You can then combine this with URLs, places, and apps that your ideal customer has an interest in. The more data you enter, the more you can zone in on the right target audience.
  • Custom intent audiences: A custom intent audience works very much in the same way as the option mentioned above, in that you can use relevant keywords, apps, and URLs to define your audience. The difference between affinity and intent audiences is the method in which they target people. For instance, if you input keywords and URLs for custom affinity, Google won’t simply stick to these – they will also incorporate keywords/URLs that are similar to the ones you entered. With customer intent, however, you are telling Google only to include the keywords/URLs you have specified. For more information on custom intent audiences, Google has a handy guide available.
  • In-market audiences: This audience type is designed specifically for advertisers who have a focus on acquiring conversions from likely customers. These would-be buyers are in the market and actively searching for the type of products or services that you offer. When it comes to finding the right people to match up with your business, Google has made it easy. It supplies over 750 different segments to choose from – with everything from apparel & accessories to antivirus & security software – ensuring you can find the right market for your wares.
  • Life events: Throughout life, people will experience major events like moving home, graduating from college, and getting married. The issue with these types of milestones is they’re infrequent. Plus, they happen at different times for different individuals. Yet if you can learn when these moments take place – thanks to assistance from Google Audiences – you can customize your advertising to have the right messages match up with the right users.
  • Detailed demographics: When going down the detailed demographics route, you have the potential to target broad portions of the population. You can reach those who share common traits, such as new parents or college students. To do this, Google has various different detailed demographics segments covered. These include education, employment, homeownership status, marital status, and parental status. By selecting the right demographic, your business can start focusing on the best areas for potential customers.
  • Remarketing: If someone has already engaged with your company in some way, it’s essential to bring them back. Retaining customers is an integral aspect for any small business looking to thrive. Furthermore, even if a person only visited your website, used your app, or watched a video on your YouTube channel, don’t disregard the significance of this moment. It shows you provided something of value to them, and you have the potential to convert them into a customer eventually. By using remarketing, you can reach out to those that previously showed interest in your business and then bring them back.
  • Similar audiences: Are you searching for different markets to target with your business? If so, using similar audiences is recommended. It removes the guesswork usually associated with hunting out a new audience, and this is due to the technology created by Google. With the machine learning of Google Ads employed, you can receive real-time suggestions for new audience lists. It will take the information from your current audiences and remarketing lists, finding potential customers who share similar characteristics to those you currently focus on with your marketing.
  • Customer Match: In a similar manner to remarketing, Customer Match offers the chance to reach out and reengage with customers. This is done by utilizing information that customers have already supplied to your business. Before the Customer Match list can be used, the collected details need to be inputted manually through Google Ads.

When it comes to selecting the right audience, remember that specific options require minimal work, while others demand extensive input before it can be implemented. When weighing up which one is best for you, ensure you accurately assess the pros and cons of each choice.

The advantages of using Google Audiences

After reading about how Google’s Audiences function works, you’ll already have a fair understanding of the benefits it provides. With that said, there might be more advantages than you initially anticipated – and you could be overlooking just how impactful certain perks are with Audiences.

So with that said, let’s take a closer look at those positive points:

You reach the right people

Undoubtedly, the biggest advantage of Google Audiences is that you have the ability to pinpoint your audience. No longer do you have to worry about your ads going in front of people who have no interest in what you have to offer. Your ads will only be served up to those with a vested interest in the products or services served up by your business.

Plus, the ability to truly zoom in on a particular market shouldn’t be disregarded. For example, say you run a business that sells treadmills. Now you may find a group of people who have a passion for fitness and exercise, and this could extend to a proclivity for running. However, this type of broad interest doesn’t necessarily mean they are in the market for a treadmill right now. Consequently, if you marketed towards this group, you would end up wasting your marketing budget showing them ads.

By selecting the right audience, one which has a strong intent to purchase a treadmill, you have the ability to only address potential customers with the right creative ads and offers. Ultimately, you won’t waste money on vague and low-quality ad impressions.

Reduce ad spend and maximize your marketing budget

As the previous point spotlights, you won’t only be saving against wasted time and effort placed into ineffective ad campaigns. You’ll also be saving your marketing budget from any unnecessary expenditure.

Because of this, you will benefit in two major ways. First of all, you can reduce your entire ad spend. After all, if your targeted ads are bringing in more clicks and traffic than with a standard ad campaign, you can avoid spending as much as normal due to the increased CTR. On the other hand, you can keep the same budget in place and expect to generate better conversions and sales numbers. Either way, it’s a win-win.

Secondly, this also ensures you can stretch your marketing budget as far as possible – at least where ads are concerned. It gives your promotional efforts every chance of succeeding, which means you can avoid throwing additional money at different advertising methods.

A shortcut to SEO success

Did you know that, in an indirect route, you can even enhance your website’s SEO with Google Audiences?

Oh, it’s true.

Admittedly, you still want to implement a traditional SEO strategy with your site. Yet trying to land on the first page of Google search results requires a considerable amount of effort. Even if you boast the best optimization practices and content, it could end up taking three-to-six months for your website to rank at the top for your chosen keywords. Feel free to add a few more months to that total if you’re attempting to climb to the top of an ultra-competitive search term.

By utilizing Google Audiences, you can bypass the time required to rank in a traditional fashion. Now you can start instantly targeting the searchers who want to find the type of content you’re producing. The question is: How can you use targeted ads to help with your SEO efforts?

Well, you are providing those essential search engine algorithms with precious user engagement signals. These signals revolve around your site content, which could assist with giving its search result position a boost. In addition, you are reaching out to users who have a high level of intent to consume your content. This means they will be much more likely to spend an extended amount of time on your website – an important element for conquering the algorithms and improving your SEO ranking.

Benefit from your competitors' research and data

If you are willing to conduct a simple competitive analysis, you can gain an integral insight into your competition. You can collect fruitful first-party data such as keywords and website visitor data. You can then view which of their website pages are most valuable, and what keywords are driving visitors to, well, visit.

By doing this competitive analysis, it saves you a lot of time and effort. You instantly know what to target with your own content. Plus, you’re effectively trying to pinch visitors from the competition, which can help to improve your overall standing in your chosen industry.

How to create a Google Audiences for campaign targeting

With the different paths you can take, setting up a Google Audiences campaign will be a different story for each business. One company might want to exclusively focus on custom intent audiences, while another may want to incorporate various audiences to expand their marketing approach.

Despite the numerous ways in which you can go, actually getting your campaign up and running is the same for everyone. Thankfully, it’s also a painless process – as the following guide will demonstrate.

Step one: Have a plan in place

First things first, you have to put together some form of plan. It isn’t recommended to simply run into Google Audiences and try to put everything together spontaneously. This will only lead to further work down the line.

To do this, first, take a look at your Google Ads Audience insights. This delivers valuable information about the individuals that make up your current remarketing lists. You can find out the type of people you are currently reaching with your ads. Ultimately, this provides the chance to analyze the demographics, interests, and locations of your customers. This can then be used to refine your ad reach.

When armed with this information, you can make an informed decision on the audience type/s to go with for your campaign.

Step two: Add Google Audiences to your ad campaign

To begin, sign in to your Google Ads account.

Once you have logged in, look to the page menu on the left-hand side of the screen. Here, you will see a section defined as “Audiences.” Click on this page.

Add Google Audiences to your ad campaign

At this stage, you have two options to make: the type of campaign you want to start and the budget you want to use. These can be changed by clicking on the “Type” and “Budget” sections along the bar at the top of the page. Once you have made a selection, click the “+ Audiences” button.

Note: The ‘Type’ determines the next steps you take in the process. For the rest of this section, it will follow what is required for putting together a “search” campaign.

In this section, you can opt to add the audience to either your campaign or ad group. In addition, you are asked to select either “Targeting” or “Observation.” As the below picture shows, Google recommends going with Observation due to how it won’t narrow your campaign’s reach.

Add Google Audiences to your ad campaign

At this point, you have the option of picking a specific audience type, such as detailed demographics and remarketing. The following example shows what comes up when you select in-market.

Add Google Audiences to your ad campaign

As you can see, it brings up a wide range of categories. Once you click on a category, this will expand into additional sub-categories where you can further pinpoint your audience.

It’s recommended, however, to use the search function that’s directly above the category selection. This way, you can enter a term, phrase, or URL, and quickly find the type of audience you want to target. Alternatively, click on the “Ideas” tab if Google has compiled enough data about your website and has relevant audience suggestions.

Add Google Audiences to your ad campaign

When you have found a suitable category, simply select it and click the “Save” button at the bottom of the page. That’s it! You have a Google Audiences campaign up and running.

On the Audiences page, you can then analyze the statistics and see how the advert is doing. You can also adjust the budget with ease by clicking the relevant box underneath the “Big adj.” section.

Audiences campaign

Step three: A guide to creating a custom affinity audience

Waze is a navigation app. Because of this, it doesn’t take much work to decipher the biggest advantage of utilizing Waze Local.

Ultimately, it brings in direct foot traffic. You drive, quite literally, potential customers to your store. The main aim of any brick-and-mortar business is to get people through the door. Waze Local can target people across the area – the type who might not otherwise realize your store exists – and boost visitor numbers in the process.

As mentioned previously, there are several methods available for putting together a specialized audience type. To avoid making this the longest single piece of content on the internet, the spotlight will be placed on one other option: creating a custom affinity audience.

If this isn’t the type of audience you want to focus on, just keep in mind most follow a similar process. Plus, Google supplies enough helpful pointers throughout that you’re unlikely to hit any roadblocks to slow your progress.

So with that said, here’s a quick look at creating a custom affinity audience.

To begin, log in to your Google Ads account and click on the “Tools & Settings” button. Underneath the “Shared Library” section, you will find “Audience manager.” Click on this section.

A guide to creating a custom affinity audience

From here, you will see two tabs labeled “Remarketing” and “Custom Audiences.” Select the latter one. Now click the blue plus sign, which will bring up two further options: “Custom affinity” and “Custom intent.”

Click the “Custom affinity” button.

Google Ads account

Doing so will open a new section. Here, you can set a name for your audience and write a short description. Most importantly, you can input various interests, URL, places, and apps to define your audience. The more searchable details you add, the greater reach your ad campaign will have. This can be both a good and bad thing, so ensure you get the balance right.

As an example, below is what happens when selecting the interests as simply “marathon runner.”

Audience estimate settings

Even with just this one term in place, you are open to a massive custom affinity audience. However, the reach begins to reduce as you start narrowing down your target – which is the ultimate goal with Google Audiences after all. You want to target a specific area and/or customer base with your ad campaign.

This can be adjusted by optimizing the “Audience estimate settings.” Select the country and language you want to target, pick the “Campaign Type” of either “Display” or “Video,” and hit the “Reload” button at the bottom of the section.

You are then provided with an estimate of just how many weekly impressions your ad campaign can potentially generate. In addition, you are given “Top website topics” that can be the focus of your content to drive people to your website.

Top website topics

In addition to this, you can gain additional insight into the audience you’re targeting. Simply click the “Demographics” tab that’s beside “Topics.” You will then be presented with age, gender, and parental status figures relating to your audience type.


Once you have analyzed the stats and you’re happy with everything, click the “Create” button at the bottom of the section. It can then be added to your ad groups.

Tips for enhancing your Google Audiences performance

As with any aspect of an ads campaign, there’s always room for improvement. This is certainly the case with Google Audiences. While setting up your campaign is relatively simple, there’s ample work involved in optimizing it to deliver the best overall results.

In that regard, here are a few helpful pointers in ensuring your Google Audiences are performing to an optimum level.

Begin with your most relevant audiences

As a starting point for your Google Audiences’ campaign, you should always place a focus on your most relevant audience types first. Why? Well, by doing this, you have a foundation for the entire campaign. You can look to see if the campaign is effective or not.

If it’s the latter, you may have to search for alternative ways to target your customer base. Yes, flopping at the start isn’t exactly ideal. However, it displays any potential issues from the very start. If you only focus on minor audiences with the campaign from the beginning, it can provide skewed results. This could then lead you into a false sense of security where you think going with the most impactful audiences will change results.

Start inwards with a couple of your most impactful audiences, and then expand outwards once you know they produce effective results.

Use Google Analytics to your advantage

When you have Google Analytics freely at your disposal, it makes all the sense in the world to, you know, use it to your advantage. By analyzing the facts and figures, you can gain a strong, multi-layered insight into the performance of your ads with Google Audiences.

Google Analytics to your advantage

By obtaining this type of valuable information, you can plan a course for the future. There are several different statistics to analyze. Even an aspect as seemingly insignificant as “Language” can be looked into, where you have the choice to see which languages are performing best, and then include these as part of your ad campaign. This is particularly beneficial when examining the performance of your website in terms of locations.

Google Analytics to your advantage

Just remember to look beyond the base figures. For instance, in the above example, India is one of the top-ranking countries in terms of users. However, the conversion rate is noticeably lower than the other listed options. As a result, it wouldn’t make sense to consider India as an audience target. Australia, on the other hand, has a high conversion rate – making them a prime candidate for additional focus with an ad campaign.

Hit your budget sweet spot

Trying to secure the optimum budget spend on your Google Audience spend is not an easy task. It requires a fair bit of trial and error, and changes beyond your control can affect this element at any time.

Yet if you can hit that sweet spot, you’ll maximize your budget and ad performance all in one go.

To do this, simply play around and adjust your bid for each audience. Continue upping the budget gradually, squeezing as much as you can out of your audience. If the results begin to decline, this is a sign that it’s time to hold off throwing any additional dollars at this particular campaign.

Don't be scared to create multiple audiences

It could appear overwhelming at first, but you should always plan to utilize multiple audiences for your campaign. By doing this, you are expanding your reach across multiple different channels – opening your website up to additional visibility from potential customers.

This is especially advantageous if you want to truly target specific audiences. As an example, you could run a business that sells vinyl records. Instead of just having a Google Audience campaign that focuses on vinyl records, you can have multiple individual ones that each focus on a different music genre. This helps to increase your reach across different search terms, while also remaining relevant to the main subject of your business.

However, there’s also a line you don’t want to cross. Avoid simply setting up an audience for the sake of it. If the market is one that has little relevance or interest in what you’re offering, you are only wasting your precious marketing budget by going down this avenue.

Understand seasonal shifts

Sometimes, your audience won’t be at the size you’re expecting. This can often be due to certain events throughout the year that shift audiences one way or the other. If you’re a standard retailer, Christmas will typically be a busy time of the year. January, not so much. Understand these shifts, and you can save money while maximizing your marketing efforts at the same time.

Aside from seasonal events, other aspects such as new product releases or unexpected changes in the market can also affect your audience size – for better or worse. Stay on top of these deviations and adjust your budget and strategy accordingly.


If you run Google Ads campaigns for your business, there’s no reason to avoid Google Audiences. Ultimately, it helps to improve the performance of your search endeavor, increase the relevancy of your ads, and maximize your ad spend.

With all of the advantages available, you might believe there’s a catch. Yet not only are there no real consequences to using this feature of Google, but it’s also simple to implement. If you’re ready to increase the effectiveness of your marketing strategy, start utilizing Google Audiences right away!