Use Lookalike segments to grow your audience

Lookalike segments are groups of people that share characteristics with others on an existing “seed” list. You’ll provide the seed list using your first-party data, including a customer match list or a list of people who’ve interacted with your website and app, or YouTube channel. We’ll then use this information to find other potential customers with similar characteristics.

This article will help you understand how Lookalike segments work and how you can use them to help you connect with potential new customers and grow your audience.

Note: Lookalike segments are only available for Demand Gen campaigns.

Benefits

  • Showcase your ads to people with similar attributes as your existing customers: Lookalike segments allow you to interact with potential new customers who could be critical to growing your business.
  • Greater control: You can choose from 3 options (narrow, balanced, or broad) to achieve the optimal balance between reach and similarity.
  • More refined approach: You can create Lookalike segments based on specific interactions people have had with your business, like watching a video or visiting a specific page on your website.
  • Up-to-date information: The Lookalike segment will be continually refreshed based on updated activity so that you have the most up-to-date list of target customers in your existing and future campaign.

How Lookalike segments work

Lookalike segments are built from your first-party customer data, which includes:

You can then use this data to reach new customers. For example, you can upload lists of customers who have purchased specific products or used specific services, and then create a Lookalike segment to reach potential new customers who are most similar to those existing customers.

You’ll be alerted in Google Ads if your data doesn’t fulfill the requirements (go to “Requirements” section below) to refresh your segment.

Case A

If you’re an advertiser looking to find more people who like playing strategy-based games, you’ll have to upload a seed list of your existing customer base. Lookalike segments will help you find other strategy-based gamers who match the attributes in your seed audience.

Reach

Lookalike segments offer the following reach options:

  • Narrow: We aim to populate narrow Lookalike segments with 2.5% of users in your ad’s target location, resulting in users who are most similar to your seed list.
  • Balanced (default option): We aim to populate balanced Lookalike segments with 5% of users in your ad’s target location. This option creates a balance between reach and similarity.
  • Broad: We aim to populate broad Lookalike segments with 10% of users in your ad’s target location. While this option results in the largest reach, it may also include users who are less similar to those in narrow or balanced Lookalike segments.

Case B

You’ll be able to decide how targeted your Lookalike segment should be. Depending on the type of conversions that matter most to you, you can also upload a seed list that only contains data on strategy players who are most valuable to your business. For you, that can be gamers who actively purchase more features, or gamers with a large stream base.


Requirements

Your Lookalike segment will be automatically refreshed every 1-2 days based on your available customer data. If the requirement below is not met, your Lookalike segment won’t be available for use:

  • The sum of all your submitted seed lists must be over 100 active matched people.

It could take up to 3 days for Lookalike segments to reflect the failed seed list requirement and stop targeting potential customers. You can check the status of your lookalike segment if it is populating, complete, inactive, or failed.


How to create Lookalike segments

Lookalike segments can be created from up to 10 existing audience lists. Follow the steps below to create a Lookalike segment in your new campaign.

Note: You can only create Lookalike segments in the audience section of the ad group settings page. Ensure that your Lookalike segment meets your campaign needs and that your settings and naming meet your specific preferences.

Create a Lookalike segment in your new campaign

Follow the steps below to create a Lookalike segment in your campaign:

  1. Create a Demand Gen campaign following the usual steps.
  2. Add an audience at the ad group level.
  3. Click New Audience in the Audience dialogue box.
  4. Click in the “Add or create Lookalike segment” search box and the “Lookalike Segment” dialog box.
  5. Click New Segment.
  6. Add a Lookalike segment name in the “Segment name” dialog box.
  7. Choose from or upload at least one seed list in the “Seed list” dialog box. You can add up to 10 seed lists.
  8. Enter and select the countries or regions you want your lookalike segment to target in the “Locations” dialog box.
  9. Choose “Narrow,” “Balanced,” or “Broad” with the slider in the “Lookalike segment” dialog box.
  10. Click Save.
Note: Because Lookalike segments are built by matching your first-party data, including customer and website and app data across all of Google, it’ll take some time to collect enough data to understand who should be in your Lookalike segments. It may take time after creation of your new campaign before you can effectively use your Lookalike segment. As a best practice, we recommend creating your campaign and Lookalike segment 2-3 days in advance to help ensure that it’s ready when you want to start serving ads.

Lookalike segments must be created while you create a Demand Gen campaign. They can be viewed in Audience Manager, but they can’t be deleted or edited in Audience Manager.

If you want to use a segment that includes a Lookalike segment across multiple Google campaign types, the audience will show as "Eligible - Limited" for other campaign types. This is because Lookalike segments can’t be used outside of Demand Gen campaigns. The rest of your audience segment will remain intact and can be used across other Google campaign types.

Add a Lookalike segment in your new campaign

Follow the steps below to add a Lookalike segment in your campaign:

  1. Create a Demand Gen campaign or select an existing Demand Gen campaign.
  2. Add an audience at the ad group level.
  3. Click New Audience in the Audience dialogue box.
  4. You may choose to include or exclude Lookalike segments you have previously created.
  5. To use the segment as an inclusion:
    1. Click in the “Add or create Lookalike segment” search box and the “Lookalike Segment” dialog box.
    2. Find and select your existing segment.
    3. Click Save.
  6. To use the segment as an exclusion:
    1. Click in the Exclusions search box.
    2. Find and select your existing segment.
    3. Click Save.

Check status of your lookalike segments

  1. In your Google Ads account, click the Tools icon Tools Icon.
  2. Click the Shared library drop down in the section menu.
  3. Click Audience manager.
  4. Navigate to the “Your data segments” tab.
  5. You can find the status of your segment in the table: populating, complete, seed list too small, and inactive.

Reporting

Because Lookalikes are a type of segment, reporting will work the same as with other segments. You’ll get all of the usual segment reporting features, so you’ll know how each Lookalike segment is performing and can then increase your focus on those that perform best.

You can access your Lookalike segment reports from the Campaigns menu or from the Audiences menu in Google Ads. Follow the steps below to access your Lookalike segment reports from your preferred menu option:

Note: The instructions below are part of the new design for the Google Ads user experience. To use the previous design, click the "Appearance" icon, and select Use previous design. If you're using the previous version of Google Ads, review the Quick reference map or use the Search bar in the top navigation panel of Google Ads to find the page you’re searching for.

Access your Lookalike segments from the Campaigns menu

Follow the steps below to access your Lookalike segment reports from the Campaigns menu:

  1. In your Google Ads account, click the Campaigns icon Campaigns Icon.
  2. Click the Campaigns drop-down, then click Campaigns.
  3. Click Reports in the top menu.
  4. Hover over Basic in the submenu.
  5. Click Audience segment in the submenu.

Access your lookalike segments from the Audiences menu

Follow the steps below to access your Lookalike segment reports from the Audiences menu:

  1. In your Google Ads account, click the Campaigns icon Campaigns Icon.
  2. Click the Campaigns drop-down, then click Audiences, keywords, and content.
  3. Click Audiences.
  4. In the “Audience segments” card at the top of the page, click the Show table drop-down arrow Drop-down arrow.

Insights

You can understand your lookalike audience segments and recognize key patterns and opportunities. You can view insights of your lookalike segments in your Google Ads account’s Audience manager under “Your Data segments” and selecting the lookalike segment.

Here, you can get a breakdown of segments by affinity categories, in-market categories, age, gender, geography, devices, and more. These insights will help you understand performance of your campaigns and make decisions about the same.


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