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One for everyone in the audience

5 min read

Niall Murphy, Search Manager

by Niall Murphy, Search Manager

Starcom, Core Media

To communicate a message effectively, marketers must first be able to define their audience. Paid search by its nature is a very targeted channel, giving advertisers the ability to put their message in front of users searching for specific keywords. However, since 2010, Google Ads has given advertisers the ability to build and target audience groups based on different factors like age, gender and interests, helping them to narrow their targeting even further.

What is an audience?

Google define audiences as:

“groups of people with specific interests, intents, and demographic information”

Initially, advertisers were required to build their own audiences, but as Google has built its suite of products and collected more data, Google can now offer groupings for advertisers to use, without advertisers having to build their own. This has transformed the way PPC can be used and has made it an even more effective channel for reaching potential customers.

What do Google offer?

1. Re-marketing list / Similar audience
Lists of users who visit your site, perform an action on your site or interact with content on your site. Similar audiences are groups of users collated based on the re-marketing list. For more information on re-marketing, see “Demystifying Search Re-marketing”.

2. In market audience
Users that are in market for specific products and services. These users who are actively searching for products and services. They are pooled together based on the intent that they have shown in their search data. An example of these are people in market for: “financial services.”

3. Affinity Audience
Affinity audiences are groups of users who share common interests. Their interests are based on browsing/search history. An example of this is “Business Professionals” and “Foodies.” These audiences are quite broad and are ideal for reaching people at the top of funnel.

Why should I care?

Google gives advertisers the ability to observe, target and negate audiences of their choosing.

1) Observation: Observing audiences allows advertisers to see how particular audiences perform in their Google ads account without changing bids or weighting towards that audience. It can offer insights into how different pools of users interact with their business and feed into the wider media strategy/business.

2) Targeting: When an advertiser identifies an audience that works for them, they can choose to prioritise that audience. By bidding on these audiences, advertisers can ensure that Google ads is spending on the audiences that work for their business.

3) Negate: If an advertiser identifies an audience that doesn’t convert for them, they can choose to not target that audience and completely negate this audience from their PPC account. By doing this, advertisers can ensure their budgets are not being wasted on audiences that don’t work for their business.

What it means for B2B advertisers

For a long time, PPC has struggled with defining which users are relevant for B2B vs B2C. The reason for this has to do with the way we search. People in business search much the same as those not in business. Unless they are looking for a specific brand, product or service, distinguishing whether a user is in market for business services is difficult.

This year, Google introduced in market audiences and affinity audiences for PPC. These audience pools include pools of users who fall under the “business” umbrella in some way; whether that is being in market for business services, or whether they are in business. With this in mind; marketers can now leverage these audiences and better target the relevant audience for their business, whether they be B2C or B2B.

Where it goes from here

With every update that Google introduce to their platform, the focus appears to be more towards the user and audience rather than just the search terms. This shift has changed the way that search is being used and has created new opportunities to reach relevant users.

As Google continues to offer more targeting options for audiences, advertisers will be better able to target relevant users with relevant messages. While the audiences feature seemed limited in the past, there really is now an option to suit all needs.

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