Create first-party audience segments

This article is specific to Audience Solutions.
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Create first-party audience segments using your own inventory. By associating these segments with ad units, placements, and optionally with key-values, and by setting other attributes such as number and recency of page views (or app activities), you can sell narrowly-targeted inventory to advertisers. Learn how first-party segment membership is determined

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Create first-party audience segments
  1. Sign in to Google Ad Manager.
  2. Click Inventory and then Audience and then New audience segment.
  3. Enter a segment name that's between 1 and 255 characters.

    Using a descriptive name makes it easier to find a segment when targeting line items. We recommend establishing a canonical naming system for audience segments that explains a segment's purpose and origin.

    When you rename a segment, reporting data continues to accrue, but the metrics appear under the new name.

  4. Set the segment's status:
  5. (Optional but recommended) Assign up to 5 audience segment categories to organize and filter your segments.

    To assign a category, begin typing in the “Categories” field. Matching results automatically appear along with a hierarchical list showing the parent categories.

  6. In the "Behavior" section, click Inventory to target the segment to ad units or placements. If you don't add targeting, the segment is run-of-network. If you include a parent ad unit, all its child ad units are included in the segment regardless of whether they're special ad units. (Special ad units and ad unit hierarchy are available to Google Ad Manager 360 publishers only.) Target custom criteria and ad units/placements in an OR relationship

    Audience segments can't directly target custom criteria and ad units or placements in an OR relationship. Achieve the same goal by targeting the segment to custom criteria along with another segment that targets the inventory you want in an OR relationship.

    For example, to target both gender=male and first_level_ad_unit=sports with an OR relationship:

    1. Create a segment that targets the ad unit.
    2. Create another segment that targets the custom criteria: In the "Behavior" section, select Key-values and audience and add the appropriate key-value, in this example, gender=male.
    3. In the "Key-values and audience" box, click Add set and select Audience segment. Select the audience segment you created earlier that targeted the ad unit: first_level_ad_unit=sports.

    The "Selected criteria" box displays the criteria you selected in an OR relationship.

    Target multiple segments using an AND relationship

    You can target users with memberships to multiple segments using an AND relationship.

    For example, to create an audience segment targeting a user who is both a frequent visitor of sports and fashion pages:

    1. Create a segment targeting the "sports" ad unit.
    2. Create another segment targeting the "fashion" ad unit.
    3. In the "Behavior" section of the second segment you created, select Key-values and audience and target the first segment you created.
    4. Click Save.

    You can also use line item targeting to target separate audience segments in an AND relationship. Learn more about targeting line items to audience segments

  7. (Optional) Click Key-values and audience to target key-values, another audience segment, or both.
    Generally, Ad Manager can accommodate 200 to 300 items (along with ad unit and key-values) in a segment if each key and value has a length of 5 characters.

    To target another first-party audience segment, select the "Audience segment" key.

  8. Enter the amount of page views a visitor to your web site or app must see before they're added to the segment.

    Enter an amount between 1 and 12. To add visitors to the segment immediately, enter 1 here. Since visitors are added immediately, recency isn't required.

    Visitors are added to a segment within 30 minutes of meeting the page views and recency requirements.

  9. In the "Recency" field, enter the number of days by which the page views goal entered in step 8 must be met.

    Enter an amount between 1 and 90 days. For example, if you enter 3 in the "Page views" box and 7 in the "Recency" box, a visitor becomes a segment member if they view the page 3 times within 7 days.

    A day is a 24-hour rolling period. If a visitor views your web page or app on January 1 at 12:11 a.m. EST and again on January 2 at 1:23 a.m. EST, that visitor has logged 2 page views in 2 days. If they visit a third time on January 2 at 2:30 p.m., the visitor has logged 3 page views in 2 days.

  10. In the "Membership expiration" field, enter the number of days a visitor remains a member of a segment before being removed for not meeting the page view goal.
    Enter an amount between 1 and 540 days. For example, say the membership criteria for the segment is 3 page views in 30 days. If a visitor already in the segment fails to view the page 3 times during a 30-day period, that user is removed from the segment.
  11. (Optional) Pre-populate the segment to begin targeting it within a day. Otherwise, ads can begin to serve to the segment once it amasses 100 monthly active visitors. After creating a segment, it immediately starts getting populated with visitors.
  12. Click Save.

Changes to an existing segment are applied only to new visitors, identified by cookies, mobile advertising IDs (AdID or IDFA), or PPIDs as they are added to the list. Visitors already on the list do not get updated.

The segment size displayed in Ad Manager is updated multiple times per day.

Requirements for membership to first-party segments

To become a member of a segment, a visitor must:

  • View a page or app section that has an ad tag with the same targeting criteria as that of the segment.
  • Be a member of the selected segment, if an existing segment is selected in the "Behavior" section.
  • Meet any goals entered for page views and recency.

Requirements for line items to serve to first-party segments

For larger lists, line items serve to visitors identified by cookies, mobile advertising IDs (AdID or IDFA), or PPIDs in targeted segments only after the segment reaches 100 members. For smaller lists, the threshold to show ads might be as high as 150 users. Our systems use statistical sampling to estimate the number of active users associated with a list. The smaller the list of visitors, the higher the variance in our estimates; we therefore must accumulate more data before meeting the desired statistical threshold.

You can target a segment with fewer members than these thresholds, but if the line item serves, it's not because it's targeted to that segment.

However, by joining a segment with another segment using an OR relationship in the targeting criteria, the line item can still serve. For example, if you target a line item to segment A OR segment B, and segment A has at least 150 visitors but segment B has fewer than 100 visitors, the line item can still serve if the visitor is in segment A.

To avoid this problem, pre-populate the segment.

Constraints and limitations

  • It can take several hours after a segment is created for it to start accruing impressions.
  • For performance reasons, our systems enforce a threshold for segments with over a million visitors. These segments must contribute a sufficient number of impressions in proportion to their size to remain fully viable. For example, a segment with two million visitors that is projected to contribute only a hundred impressions per day would serve to a small percentage of randomly selected members until sampling indicates it will cross a threshold of around 600 impressions per day.
  • Limitations on key names and values:
    • Keys and values in audience segments cannot include a quote (') (either single or double), or a hyphen (-), which is interpreted as a minus sign.
    • Keys in audience segments must start with a non-numeric character. For example, abc123 is valid; 123abc is not.
  • There's a limit of 200,000 audience lists per network.
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