Press "Enter" to skip to content

How Does Audience Targeting Work?

An AUDIENCE for Google is basically a group of people that are somehow identified within the system. 

An audience could have a hundred people or a million people in it. We don’t know who those people are. We just know that they are in a particular audience.

One example is the “Remarketing Audience”. If you’ve set up “remarketing” on your site, you’ve created an audience of people who have visited your site. If you’ve set this up, you can then set up your ads to show to people who are in that audience. 

Some other types of audience are predefined by Google. They have what’s called detailed demographics (parental status, marital status, education, home ownership status, etc.)

Does Google really know whether everyone is married or single? 

The answer is:  NOT REALLY

Google is not like Facebook where these kinds of information are entered into a profile. In cases like this, Google does not have it completely accurate. Your targeted list of married people may not be 100% correct. There may be a few unmarried people on the list that you will reach, and there will also be married people who are not on the list, so you won’t reach them. That’s just how it works and that’s how you deal with Google. If you want to try to make use of these audiences, accept the fact that they simply do not know 100% about everyone who is using the internet.

Another example is “In-market Audience”. This is a group of people who are actively looking for something. Within the last week or two, they’ve actually been researching something with the intent of making a purchasing decision. They are in the market for something predefined (e.g. children’s products, vehicles, real estate, travel).  Based on the people’s search behavior and on the things they are searching online, Google puts people in these audiences.

If you’ve been browsing a bunch of travel websites, or you’ve triggered a search with keywords related to travel, you are now in the market for some type of travel. 

And even within some of these in-market lists, it’s broken down. Within the travel list, you have air travel, bus travel, car rental, cruises. There are lots of options in this in-market list.

Sometimes they are pretty good. You find that if you’re targeting a list like this, you can have pretty good results, sometimes not so much. It’s not a magic bullet. It doesn’t guarantee great results, but it’s always worth trying.

So how do we make use of these audiences? How does this audience targeting work?

For Display Network and YouTube Video Campaigns, you could set it up so that your ad shows to anyone who is in a particular audience. Whether someone is in my remarketing audience or in-market audience (for whatever product),  I can say that I want my ad to show to all of those people. The only criteria that I have to use is that they are in an audience of my choosing.

You can also layer these audiences with other criteria. You might want your ad to show to people who are in this audience, and who are also browsing a website (and watching videos) related to a specific topic.

One thing you can’t do is layer different audiences. You can’t layer your remarketing audience with the in-market audience. Google doesn’t allow you to do that.

In the Search Campaign, it works a little differently. You can target everyone in these audiences, but they also have to be searching for the keywords that you’re targeting. It always has to be layered with the keywords. 

Your ads are not going to show up if you don’t have keywords. So, keywords come first, then you can do different things with the audiences in addition to that.

So, there are two different things to do with audiences:

1) You can add an audience for targeting

What this means in a search campaign is that your ad will only show if someone is searching the keywords that you’re targeting and they are also in an audience that you are targeting. 

This is fairly limiting because your ad will not show to anyone who’s outside of an audience that you’ve set up. This means even if someone is searching for one of the keywords that you’re targeting, your ad will not show to those people unless they’re in an audience that you’re targeting. You’re going to be missing out on a lot of traffic this way. That is what the targeting option does, it requires that your ad will only be shown to people who are in the audiences that you added.

2) You can use audiences for Observation

In this option, it’s not going to be so narrow. Someone could be searching the keywords that you’ve selected, and they don’t have to be in one of your audiences, they are still going to be eligible to see your ad. 

What observation does is it lets you add your audiences, and then you can see how the data is different for your different audiences and also how it’s different for people who are not in the audience. In this case, you can adjust your bid for different audiences. 

For example, you add five different audiences that you feel are relevant to the thing that you’re selling. You observe how this data looks, and you’ll find that for a couple of these audiences, the return on your ad spend (ROAS) is much higher than average. There will be audiences that outperform the others, getting you more sales than average. What you can do then is take that data, and increase the bids for the audiences that perform better. Knowing that people in these audiences are going to be more profitable, you can then bid more for them. 

Now you’re paying more per click for people who are in these audiences. But because you’re making more profit, that’s fine. You’d rather pay more per click in order to get more traffic because you know that those people are going to become customers at a higher rate than average.

You can also decrease bids for certain audiences or you can exclude them altogether. Again, Google doesn’t necessarily know everything about people. I wouldn’t recommend excluding an audience at the start of a campaign. 

But there are cases that you might consider excluding an audience. For example, you’re only selling a product for homeowners, and you think it might be a good idea to exclude renters. What you can do is add the “renters” audience for observation. It’s not going to change your campaign at all, everyone is still going to see your ad, we’re just observing the audience.

If the hypothesis turns out to be true that people in the “renters” audience are not becoming customers, then you can decide to significantly decrease your bids for “renters”, put in a negative bid adjustment, or simply exclude that ‘renters” audience altogether. Again, because of the inconsistency and inaccuracy of all these data, I wouldn’t recommend excluding an audience before running that test.

What’s the Bottom line?

I would always recommend starting with an observation so you can see which ones will be a good audience or bad audience, and then only making a change after we see how that audience actually performs.

One Comment

  1. […] This is another thing that you can tweak when it comes to targeting the right people. You can use different in-market audiences or detailed demographics to try to narrow in on the best people to target with your campaign. You can choose to bid more for the right audiences in order to get more of the right people.  You can also bid less to exclude certain audiences so you’d get less traffic from the wrong people. Please go check the article where I went into detail about AUDIENCES. […]

Comments are closed.