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. Sell narrowly targeted inventory to advertisers by:

  • Associating these segments with ad units, placements, and key-values.
  • Setting other attributes such as number and recency of page views (or app activities).

Get started

  1. Sign in to Google Ad Manager.
  2. Click Inventory and then Audience and then New audience segment.
  3. Name your segment.

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

  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.

  6. Under "Behavior,", 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.

    Example: Target 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: Under "Behavior," 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 that targets 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

    Target users with memberships to multiple segments using an AND relationship.

    Example: Create an audience segment targeting a user who frequently visits sports and fashion pages:

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

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

  7. (Optional) Click Key-values and audience to target key-values, another audience segment, or both.
    • Ad Manager can accommodate 200 - 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 site or app must see before they're added to the segment.
    • To add visitors to the segment immediately, enter 1.
    • 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 when the page views goal entered in step 8 must be met.
    • 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.

    Example: The membership criteria for the segment is 3 page views in 30 days. If a visitor 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. Visitors already on the list aren’t updated.

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

Requirements for membership to first-party segments

To become a segment member, a visitor must:

  • View a page or app section that has an ad tag with the same targeting criteria as the segment.
  • Be a member of the selected segment.
  • 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 accumulate more data to meet the desired statistical threshold.

You can target a segment with fewer members than the threshold, 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. Example:

  1. Target a line item to segment A OR segment B.
  2. Segment A has at least 150 visitors but segment B has fewer than 100 visitors.
  3. 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 to accrue 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. Example:
    1. A segment with two million visitors is projected to contribute only a hundred impressions per day.
    2. The segment serves 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 can’t 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. Example: abc123 is valid; 123abc is not.
  • There's a limit of 20,000 audience lists per network.
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