About audience targeting

You can add audience targeting to ad groups and reach people based on who they are, their interests and habits, what they’re actively researching or how they've interacted with your business. Audience targeting can boost your campaign's performance by reaching people browsing websites, using apps or watching videos. Read the personalised advertising policy (formerly known as interest-based advertising) to help improve the experience for users and advertisers alike.

How audience targeting works

For Display, Search, Video and Hotel campaigns, audiences are groups of people with specific interests, intents and demographic information, as estimated by Google. When adding an audience to a campaign or ad group, you can select from a wide range of categories – such as fans of sport and travel, people shopping for cars or specific people that have visited your website or app. Google Ads will show ads to people who are likely in the selected categories.

Note: The data used to generate audiences (for example, page visit history, past Google searches), may be used to improve the bidding and targeting of your audience campaigns.

See the table below for a brief description of the different audience types to use for targeting in your campaigns:

Campaign type Audience type
Display
  • Affinity: Reach users based on what they're passionate about and their habits and interests.
  • Custom audiences: Depending on your campaign goal, reach users based on what they're passionate about, their habits and interests, and reach users based on their recent purchase intent. You can learn more About custom audiences.
  • Detailed demographics: Reach users based on long-term life facts.
  • Life events: Reach users when they're in the midst of important life milestones.
  • In-market: Reach users based on their recent purchase intent.
  • Remarketing: Reach users that have interacted with your business.
  • Customer Match: Reach your existing customers based on your CRM data.
  • Similar audiences: Reach new users with similar interests to your website visitors or existing customers.
  • Learn more by reading Reach the right audience at the right moment.
Search
  • Affinity: Reach users based on what they're passionate about and their habits and interests.
  • Detailed demographics: Reach users based on long-term life facts.
  • In-market: Reach users based on their recent purchase intent.
  • Remarketing: Reach users that have interacted with your business.
  • Customer Match: Reach your existing customers based on your CRM data.
  • Similar audiences: Reach new users with similar interests to your website visitors or existing customers.
Video
  • Affinity: Reach users based on what they're passionate about and their habits and interests.
  • Custom audiences: Depending on your campaign goal, reach users based on what they're passionate about, their habits and interests, and reach users based on their recent purchase intent.
  • Detailed demographics: Reach users based on long-term life facts.
  • In-market: Reach users based on their recent purchase intent.
  • Remarketing: Reach users that have interacted with your business.
  • Customer Match: Reach your existing customers based on your CRM data.
  • Similar audiences: Reach new users with similar interests to your website visitors or existing customers.
Hotel
  • Remarketing: Reach users that have interacted with your business (website visitors, similar audiences, custom combination and customer lists).

Different audience targeting options

Once you’ve identified the interests, needs, behaviours and goals of your audience, you can define who your audience will be for a particular campaign or ad group. You can create an audience, a combined audience or select audiences that are preconfigured by Google Ads.

Affinity audiences

With affinity audiences, you can reach people based on a holistic picture of their lifestyles, passions and habits. Affinity audiences have demonstrated a qualified passion in a given topic, allowing advertisers to reach the people that matter most with their products or offerings.

Currently, all Google advertisers can access affinity audiences in Search, Display and Video campaigns, as well as Gmail and Display & Video 360.

Find a curated list of affinity categories by downloading this CSV.
Life event

Engage with viewers on YouTube, Gmail and Display around important life milestones, like graduating from college, moving homes or getting married. By understanding when these moments are taking place, you can tailor your advertising to reach the right users with the right messages.

Like other important milestones, life events are infrequent and as a result may reach smaller audiences compared to affinities. However, since life events may correspond with many related purchasing decisions, they’re often larger than in-market categories which correspond with a single purchasing decision. For example, someone who’s about to move will likely buy new furniture, moving services, mortgages and other moving-related items during the months of their move.

In-market audiences

Select from these audiences to find customers who are in the market, which means that they're researching products and are actively considering buying a service or product like yours.

These audiences are designed for advertisers focused on getting conversions from likely buyers. In-market audiences can help to drive remarketing performance and reach consumers close to completing a purchase.

Find a curated list of in-market audiences by downloading this CSV.

Custom audiences

Custom audiences lets you decide how you want to reach your ideal audience by entering keywords, URLs and apps.

You can set up a custom audience in your Display, Discovery, Gmail and Video campaigns by defining your audience based on the specific keywords, URLs and apps related to your product or service. Google Ads will then show ads to people who are likely to be interested in these keywords on pages, apps and videos. Learn more about audience targeting.

By inferring your campaign goals and bidding strategy, the system will interpret all of those signals and choose an audience that is focused on one of the following:

  • Reach
  • Consideration
  • Performance

For example, rather than reaching the Sports Fans affinity audience, a running shoe company may want to reach Avid Marathon Runners instead. With custom audiences, the shoe company can define this audience by:

  • Entering interests like "5K in San Francisco", "triathlon athlete" or "long distance runner"
  • Using URLs of websites with content about running, training schedules, marathon nutrition and other marathon themes
  • Entering apps in

Custom intent audiences: auto-created (Display)

Auto-created custom intent audiences allow you to define and reach the ideal audience for your Display campaigns. You can use custom intent audiences to segment your ad groups for a specific vertical or landing page.

For now, auto-created audiences are available in English, German, Japanese, Spanish, Russian, Portuguese, French and Italian. Check back for updates. New languages will be added over time.

Remarketing

You can also reach people who have already engaged with your company’s products and services, including past visitors to a website, mobile app, videos or customers who have given you their contact information. Learn more about remarketing

Detailed demographics

Detailed demographics enables you to reach broad segments of the population that share common traits, such as students, homeowners or new parents. Find a curated list of detailed demographics by downloading this CSV.

Customer Match

Customer Match lets you use your online and offline data to reach and re-engage with your customers across Search, Shopping, Gmail, YouTube and Display. Using information that your customers have shared with you, Customer Match will target ads to those customers. Learn more about Customer Match

Similar audiences

Similar audiences takes the guesswork out of your search for new audiences, by automatically finding new customers similar to your existing customers. Google Ads uses machine learning to update similar audience lists in real time to compare new users to your remarketing lists. Using similar audiences targeting allows you to show ads to people who share characteristics with people on your existing remarketing and Customer Match lists. To avoid overlap, your original list is automatically excluded from your similar audiences list. Learn more about similar audiences

How bidding for audience lists works with multiple campaigns

If you have multiple campaigns targeting the same traffic, the auction will select the one with the highest effective bid.

Example

Suppose Campaign A and Campaign B are targeting the same model of shoes in a user locality.

Campaign A has a £2 base bid, with a 100% bid multiplier for an audience list, and Campaign B has a £5 base bid with no multiplier. Campaign B will earn the impression, even though it has no audience list bid adjustment.

About dynamic prospecting

Dynamic prospecting is one way to extend  the power of your feed-based dynamic remarketing to reach new users with your high-performing products. Unlike dynamic remarketing, which is focused on getting the most value out of your existing customers, dynamic prospecting is used to acquire new users. This difference makes dynamic prospecting the preferable method if you’re a new advertiser or if you’re targeting an audience different from your own first-party data (including your remarketing lists).

How it works

Dynamic prospecting uses machine learning to predict which feed items prospective buyers are looking for. Using historical feed performance and user behaviour, dynamic prospecting predicts which new users are most likely to perform well for items in your feed. Once the system finds statistically significant relationships between feed items and user intent, it combines that possible intent with demographics-based information such as age and gender to match the user’s intent with a relevant product in your feed. The products in your feed are evaluated and selected based on performance, relevance, and other factors to determine which ones are most likely to lead to conversions.

Smart display campaigns are recommended for dynamic prospecting campaigns, since they can simply and easily combine dynamic remarketing users with prospecting users for effective full-funnel setup.

Example

Imagine that you're a hotel provider, and a customer wants to have a holiday in Paris. This customer is researching many topics about Paris, such as its cultural attractions, restaurants, hotels and flight options. Since you've enabled dynamic prospecting, every new bit of relevant information in this user’s journey that indicates their travel intent to Paris helps Google's systems know that showing your Parisian hotels to this customer is more likely to lead to a relevant, assistive-style ad that this user may be more likely to convert from.

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