Are you layering your Google audiences?
You should be.
In this article, I’ll take you layered audience targeting in Google, and how you can use combined audience targeting to improve your ad campaign results.
What You’ll Learn:
- About advanced audience targeting
- Demographic audience targeting
- Why layering audiences is a good strategy
- How to add an audience to your campaign
- How layered audience targeting works on the Display network
- How layered audience targeting works on the Search network
Advanced Google Audience Targeting
Before we get into how to combine your Google audience, let’s lay a little groundwork.
When you’re creating an ad campaign, one of the most important steps is making sure you’re targeting the right audience.
No one searching for a horse farrier needs to see an ad for a local walk-in pet clinic. The topics are similar, yes, but they’re not an exact match.
To get you the best results possible, Google has made it easier than ever to get that exact match.
You likely already know a little about Google audience targeting. Facebook’s all about it, and Google isn’t far behind.
You can use all the general targeting options: keyword, interests, location, demographics, etc., and also take advantage of some of Google’s advanced audience features, including:
- Affinity Audiences – These audiences are based on topics of interest. As users surf and engage with pages around the web, Google stores that information and uses it to build a profile. Then, ads can be tailored to fit their interests.
- Custom Affinity Audiences – Same concept here, but this option allows advertisers to give Google a list of keywords or websites relevant to your audience, and Google will create a theme or category for you.
- In-Market Audiences – This targeting is aimed at reaching consumers who are getting ready to make a purchase, based on an analysis of intent signals such as recent search queries and website browsing activity. It differs from affinity audiences because rather than focusing on someone who regularly researches a certain topic, it pulls information from those who take a sudden interest in a specific topic, signaling an intent to buy.
- Life Event Targeting – This method gives advertisers a way to target users just before or after certain big life events take place. Note that this targeting is only available for video and Gmail ads. As of now, those events include:
- Graduating from college
- Getting married
- Remarketing Audiences – Remarketing allows you to target people who have already visited or taken action on your site
- Similar Audiences – These are audiences similar to those who have previously visited your site or converted, determined by online browsing history.
Demographic Audience Targeting
In addition to its advanced audiences, Google also recently opened up demographics audience targeting as well as Display.
While these are certainly more along the lines of traditional advertising, demographics play an extremely important role in accurately targeting your targeting.
On Search and Display, you can target your campaigns by:
- Gender – target to specific genders; this includes bidding upon a specific gender or excluding one altogether
- Age – target to specific age groups; you can increase your bid for your top-performing age groups or exclude groups from your campaign
- Income – adjust your bid based on for certain areas of the country with higher or lower average income levels (based on average annual income levels by zip code from US census data)
And, on Display only, you can also target by:
- Parent – allows you to adjust your bid for those who are or are not parents
Why One Doesn’t Always Cut It When It Comes to Google Audiences
Using any targeting method, you’re going to see some results.
Take the old standby, keyword targeting. It’s been one of the major advantages of digital advertising since, well, forever.
It’s great because it allows you to hone in on users searching for that exact keyword and ignore all the other web noise going on behind it.
But keyword targeting alone just isn’t enough.
Targeting one focus keyword still allows for a very diverse audience to lay eyes on it. But when it comes to your PPC ads, you want to narrow your Google audience as much as possible.
Because really, no one wants to pay for unqualified clicks.
So instead, we layer different targeting features on top of each other to cater to a niche audience.
Think of it as the Venn diagram effect. Say you run a video game store that caters mostly to female gamers.
When setting up an ad, ideally, you would like to target females who are ready to buy. Targeting only one or the other (females, or those in-market for video games) won’t give you the results you want.
But, in Google Ads (and Bing, for the record) you have the option to overlap the two, effectively targeting the intersection.
The center of the Venn diagram, if you will.
While choosing targeted keywords is a good start, you should combine them with specifics demographics based on your ideal customer.
How to Add an Audience to Your Campaign
Things have changed a little at Google, and the setup process is a bit different from what it was previously.
Before, targeting options were found under the “Interests & Remarketing” sections on separate tabs for Display and Search.
Now to add an audience, just sign in to your Google Ads account and click Audiences on the menu. Easy enough, right?
Then, click the pencil icon and “Select an Ad Group.” Next, you’ll select an ad group from the list that appears. Once your ad group is selected, you’ll choose which audiences you want that particular campaign to reach. And that’s it. Click Save and you’re good to go.
(Note: you will have to have entered in the specifics for the audience you choose to apply. For example, if using remarketing, you’ll need to follow the instructions to create the list before adding it to your campaign.)
Adding a new Google audience to your campaign is typically done when a company is releasing a new product or service. It can also be a beneficial step during rebranding.
Layered Audience Targeting on the Display Network
This one’s been around for a while. The ability to mix and match your Google audience came first to the Display Network, and frankly, it’s hard to imagine the ads without it these days.
The different ways of combing your audiences are almost endless here. Of course, you can combine demographic settings and topics to target a very specific group.
For example, if you’re a makeup retailer, you would likely target your ad towards women who have expressed interest in Beauty Products, and increase the bid if users fall into the 25-54 age range.
Custom Affinity + In-Market Audience Targeting
This one is a great way to target those with similar interests who are a little further along in the sales cycle.
The reason we go custom here is that it allows you to combine the URLs your target market is visiting with their interests, based on your choosing.
So, if you’re in a somewhat smaller niche field, say dog grooming supplies, you can hand-pick the URLs relevant to your Google audience (you must enter at least 5). Then, Google will generate a list of top website topics and demographics for your ad campaign to create your custom affinity audience.
Now, Google has a good idea of the kinds of topics your audience is interested in and where to best place your ad.
But let’s take it a step further. If your goal is to target those with buying intent, you can do so by layering an in-market audience on top of your custom affinity audience.
This will signal to Google that you want to show ads to people inside the affinity audience you’ve created who also have shown intent to buy in their search history.
And as always, you’ll want to layer in your focus keywords to make your targeting as accurate as possible.
For example, a vegan-friendly cosmetics company may use five defining interests such as cosmetics, vegan, all-natural, organic, cruelty-free, and beauty as its keywords. These key interests will help narrow down the audience to only the people who share these interests.
Layered Audience Targeting on the Search Network
The ability to layer audiences is somewhat newer to the Search Network. After all, it only recently gained access to targeting methods like demographics and in-market Google audiences.
That said, it’s an undeniably powerful opportunity for marketers.
Google itself recommends using a layered effect, especially when it comes to in-market audiences on Search:
“Use in-market audiences in combination with remarketing to drive highly-qualified users to your site and improve overall remarketing efficiency for your campaign.”
The benefits here are clear: not only are you targeting an audience with indicated buying intent but one that already has a proven interest in your product.
Using keywords, interests, specific topics, and managed placements, you can maximize the profitability of your ad.
You can even use exclusions to your benefit.
By excluding certain interests and topics that you know your target audience doesn’t care about, you will essentially be narrowing the field down to people with a greater chance of making a purchase.
Simply utilize the site category options to exclude content that you do not want to be associated with your brand. Such categories can include violence, profanity, criminal activity, video ads, mobile app ads, and so much more depending on your business.
There are plenty of other ways to layer your targeted audience to achieve the best results.
In-Market + Gender Demographics
Here’s the thing with ad campaigns: they don’t always work out the way you think they will.
In fact, Google stresses that trusting your gut is not the way to go when it comes to targeting combinations. Instead, trust the facts.
For example, a florist.
Wordstream notes that one particular florist client found that although men made up relatively little traffic to their website, those that did land on site were far more likely to convert (and spend more than their female counterparts).
With that information on hand, an ad campaign could then be created to target those in-market, with a higher bid adjustment for men.
Remember, in-market ads are based on recent spikes in search history, not prolonged search history over time, which makes it perfect for this type of Search campaign.
If the florist was more interested in brand awareness and site traffic, they may have done better to serve ads on the Display network using topic targeting (or an affinity audience) geared towards women.
But instead, they opted for the Search network (where buyer intent is higher) to target men further down the sales funnel with an in-market audience. This is just one example of how in-market and gender demographics can help you reach your desired Google
Targeting in any form or fashion is a key step in successful digital advertising.
But with so many options available, it only makes sense to combine the most effective methods to support your goals and reach your Google audience.
Luckily, Google Ads makes the process simple.