Reach valuable customers with RLSA, Customer Match & similar audiences

Maximize engagement when applying your lists

When you’re applying your audience lists to a campaign, you’ll be presented with a choice: “Bid only” or “Target and bid.” When using audiences in search and Shopping, plan to use “Bid only.” It’s the most straightforward way to maximize the value of your audience lists.

Use “Bid only” to account for different values of audiences.

Adjusting bids for audiences is quick and easy when using “Bid only.” After applying your audience lists to campaigns or ad groups, you can update how much you’d like to bid for each of the auctions connected to those audiences.

If you’ve set up the right audiences, it’s safe to assume that they’re valuable to you. You’ll want to increase your bids to account for that value. "Bid only" is a straightforward way to take advantage of the insight you have about your users.


As you test new methods of reaching your valuable audiences, consider implementing holdback tests against a small percentage of your database. Use this to test the efficacy of audience-based targeting, then iterate and scale based on the outcome.

Set bid adjustments that will drive substantially more volume from your audience lists.

Put simply, past customers and visitors are more likely to convert. In fact, based on our internal data, overall RLSA click share in some industries is 6-8% while the overall RLSA conversion share is 15-20%. People who have been to your site before typically deliver almost one in five conversions, from fewer than one in ten clicks.2

Considering this significant increase in conversion rate, you should plan on similarly significant bid increases to match. Try for an aggressive position on the page, assuming that your audience list conversion numbers match what we see on an aggregate level. Let the numbers guide your decision, but you should expect to make increases of up to +100% or higher. A simple 10% bump will often not be significant enough to create an appropriate increase in performance.


Once you understand your audiences and their performance you can set the right adjustments. For example, you might find your Customer Match audiences warrant a 200% increase, while your similar audience only warrants a 75% boost.

Apply audiences at the campaign level to maximize your reach.

Audiences tend to perform similarly across ad groups in a single campaign. As such, plan to apply audiences at the campaign level. One campaign-level bid adjustment allows for easy reporting and optimization.

Campaign-level performance numbers provide more data to make an informed decision. The quicker you collect data, the easier it is to optimize performance. It also gives you the best possible reach for that audience. As you add new ad groups to that campaign, you won’t need to worry about applying audiences to them as well. That’ll already be taken care of.


If you’re looking to get even more advanced with your audience strategy in Google Ads than using “Bid only,” you can tailor your targeting and messaging via the “Target and bid” option. This approach requires diligence, though. “Target and bid” has the potential to connect on a deeper level with audience lists, but it will increase your account management overhead.

Deploy broader match types and keyword selection.

Finally, as you get used to reaching audiences in your campaigns, consider experimenting with a broader set of keywords and match types. Audience lists are pre-qualified, so you can increase your reach while maintaining low base bids for those keywords.

Keywords that are earlier in the click path may not be as valuable for all users, but if you already know someone’s interested in you that value will increase. You can reach people as they’re searching for things that would only be worth a low bid under normal circumstances. You can drive more traffic, but should be able to see a better return as you know that you’re saving your highest bids for the most qualified potential visitors.

Case Study

As the largest pure-play children's clothing retailer in North America, The Children's Place is a go-to destination for many back-to-school shoppers. To reach back-to-school customers who hadn’t converted since the previous season, the company used Customer Match and saw a 287% higher ROI. "Customer Match has helped The Children's Place find incremental revenue and significantly exceed ROI goals for non-brand keywords," said David Lau, vice president, national head of programmatic and SEM at iCrossing.


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2 Based on internal Google data.

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