How your data segments work

To provide a comprehensive and consolidated view of your Audiences and make audience management and optimization simpler, you’ll see the following improvements in Google Ads:

  • New audience reporting
    Detailed reporting about audience demographics, segments, and exclusions is now consolidated in one place, the “Audiences” tab within the left page navigation menu. You can also easily manage your Audiences from this report page. Learn more About Audience reporting
  • New terms
    We’re using new terms on your audience report and throughout Google Ads. For example, “audience types” (these include similar, custom, in-market, and affinity) are now referred to as audience segments and “remarketing” is now referred to as “your data”. Learn more about the Updates to Audience terms and phrases

Your data segments include collections of website visitors or app users gathered by snippets of code added to your site or app. When you create a segment (or data segment), you set rules for when visitors or users should be added to the segment. You also specify a membership duration for how long you want your visitors or users to stay on the segment. You'll want to add these segments to your campaigns' ad group targeting so that you can show ads to visitors or users on your segments.

If you've set up the Global site tag to track your website visitors, you'll see that it consists of a global site tag and an event snippet. Learn how to adapt an existing global site tag for your Google Ads account

This article contains information to help you understand how your data segments work.

Before you begin

If you aren't familiar with how to retarget to people who previously interacted with your website or mobile app, you should read about setting up your data.

Google Ads does not permit the implementation of tags on pages related to policy-restricted offers. Learn more about the Personalized advertising policy

About website visitors

Visitors are added to your data segments within seconds after visiting a page with either the global site tag or with both the global site tag and an event snippet. Every time someone visits a page on your site containing an event snippet, the visitor's timestamp is updated so the person remains on the segment for the amount of time specified by the membership duration.

If people visit multiple pages on your website that contain event snippets, they can be added to multiple customer segments. When this happens, all the ads included in the campaigns for those segments are eligible to serve. The ad with the highest ad rank will then compete for placement in the auction.

Visitors or users

When you first create a segment, it won't have any visitors or users. As people visit your website or use your mobile app, they'll be added to segments based on the rules you've set. You'll want to make sure you've tagged your website or enabled tracking of your data on your mobile app so that visitors or users can be added to your segments.

Rules

Rules are conditions that must be met in order for a visitor or user to be added to your data segments. You can use rules to create your data segments beyond the default segments that Google Ads creates for you.

Example

An airline wants to show ads about flight deals to people who visited a product page on their website in the past month. They create a "Flight deals" segment with a membership duration of 30 days and a rule to collect all visitors to a webpage that has a URL that ends with "flight-deals.html." When people visit this flight deals page, they're added to the "Flight deals" segment which the airline can target with an ad campaign about flight deals.

For detailed instructions about rules, see Use rules for reaching out to your website visitors.

Size of your data segment

The requirement to serve your ads varies based on the target network. The accuracy of the estimated segment size will vary depending on your segment settings, the length of time since your tag was installed, your campaign settings, and other factors.

  • Google Display Network must have a minimum of 100 active visitors or users within the last 30 days.
  • Google Search Network must have a minimum of 1,000 active visitors or users within the last 30 days.
  • YouTube must have a minimum of 1,000 active visitors or users within the last 30 days.
  • Discovery ads must have a minimum of 1,000 active visitors or users within the last 30 days.

If you have trouble with managing your data segments:

Note: Only users signed in to Gmail will be added to Gmail data segments.

Segment status

When you create your data segment with people who have visited your website and used your app, you'll be able to decide if it should be "Closed" or "Open". You can change this status at any time — the status won’t affect your event snippet or the segment settings. However, if you set a segment to "Closed", and the membership duration is too short, the segment may become too small to use for targeting.

  • Closed: This means that your segment won't continue to grow and add more users or visitors. Your targeting will also still work — however, the audience you're targeting won't increase in size.
  • Open: This status means that your segment is growing. Google Ads will continue to add more visitors or users to your segment. Keep in mind, if you don't use the segment in your campaign or ad group targeting for 540 days, Google Ads will automatically close it. However, you can reopen segments at any time, and they'll start adding users again.

Membership duration

You can set a membership duration for how long a visitor or user stays on your segment. Visitors or users are removed from your segment by the time their membership duration expires, unless they use your website or app again (in this case the clock is reset for the duration you've set). You’re responsible for complying with any duration limitations under applicable law.

Network Default duration Max. duration
Display Network 30 days 540 days
Google search 30 days 540 days
  • If you set a duration longer than the maximum, the visitor or user will be removed from the data segment at the maximum duration.
  • If you change the segment's membership duration, the segment size that you see in your Google Ads account may be temporarily inaccurate.
  • If you change the membership duration after a segment has already accumulated visitors or users, the new duration is applied to all current and future visitors or users on the segment. For example, if your duration is 60 days and you shorten it to 30 days, anyone who joined the segment 31 - 60 days ago will be removed. Conversely, if your duration is 30 days and you extend it to 60 days, anyone already on the segment will stay on the segment for up to 60 days.

You should choose a duration related to the length of time you expect your ads to be relevant for your visitors. In general, the membership duration should be similar to the length of your sales cycle.

Inactive segments

If your segments (or data segments) haven't been used in your targeting for 540 days, they'll be automatically set to the "Closed" status. These segments won't add more visitors or users, but they'll still be visible in your Audience table. You can reopen your data segments at any time, and people will be added to them again.

Example

If you sell movie tickets, you might set a membership duration of a few days. However, if you sell cars, you might choose a duration of a few months since it generally takes longer to make the decision to buy a car.

Similarly, if you sell Valentine's Day gifts, you might choose a membership duration of a year plus a few days so that you can reach the customers on your segment when Valentine's Day comes around the next year.

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