Reach the right audience at the right moment

Your next step is to reach the right audiences across the various touch points of the customer journey. Programmatic can help automate your audience targeting.

Before you start 

Create a separate campaign or ad group for different audience targeting: Do not mix audience targeting types in the same ad group (e.g. Affinity with In-Market). Since our audiences are designed to address specific goals, we recommend having separate campaigns in most cases so you can control budgets, bids and other settings separately. 

Avoid layering targeting: Adding demographics, topics, placements and keywords on top of audience targeting will make your campaign only reach the subset of the audience who is in that demographic / engaging with that targeted content (e.g., in-market for sneakers AND engaging with sneaker-related content). With this option, the scale of audience reach and ultimately conversions will be significantly hindered. 

Re-engage past site visitors with remarketing and customer match


Remarketing keeps your ads in front of people who have previously visited your site or app. On average, consumers visit mobile websites 6 times in the purchase process. You’ll want to re-engage them when they’re most likely to buy.Consider these sources to create your audience lists for display remarketing:

  • Desktop and mobile website visitors: This is the most common source for building your remarketing lists. Top lists to focus on include all site visitors, category page viewers, cart abandoners, product page viewers and past converters.
  • Mobile app users: There are two main use cases for mobile app remarketing: driving conversions or app re-engagement. To drive conversions, your remarketing lists should include product viewers or cart abandoners. To drive app re-engagement, your remarketing lists should focus on lapsed or inactive users. See the available lists for mobile app engagement.
  • YouTube video viewers: Once you link your Google Ads account and YouTube channel, create video remarketing lists based off of your YouTube viewers and specific actions they’ve taken with your channel.

If you’re a business with a large portfolio of products (for example, retail or travel), you’ll want to start off with dynamic remarketing. This will show potential customers the most tailored ad possible based on your existing inventory, eliminating the need to build thousands of ads.

For more advanced GDN remarketing tips, check out our guide on how to reach customers with remarketing.


Use Google Ads Editor to apply audience lists in bulk to your ad groups.

Did you know...

When dynamic remarketing is paired together with Target ROAS bidding, advertisers see up to a 40% improvement in return on ad spend.6

Customer Match

Customer Match lets you use your online and offline data to reach and re-engage with your customers.

Customer Match is a useful advertising tool for many business goals, from increasing brand awareness to driving conversions. Here are a few examples of different audiences you can target with Customer Match:

  • Cross or up-sell audiences: lists aimed at driving purchase behavior based on previous purchase type or channels
  • Loyalty focused audiences: lists based on relative user value or how long they’ve been a customer of yours to promote special offers, loyalty programs or new product suites.
  • Lapsed users audiences: lists based on lapsed users with focus on reengagement or reactivation.

Enhance your remarketing and customer match with similar audiences

Extend the reach of your remarketing and customer match campaigns with Google’s lookalike targeting. Similar audiences find new people who share interests with those on your current remarketing and customer match lists. This can grow your remarketing conversions by up to 38% compared to using remarketing alone.7


  • Consider creating similar audiences based on past purchasers or best-selling products and services.
  • Set up a separate campaign for similar audiences. It’ll allow you to better manage your bids, ads and targeting.

Find additional customers with custom audiences

If you want to show new customers with high purchase intent, use in-market audiences. If you need more customized segments, you can also use custom audiences. If you’re already running search campaigns, you can use some of your Search Network best practices in your Google Display Network campaigns:

  • Use top performing keywords from your Search campaigns
  • Use your website taxonomy to guide campaign structure
  • Add keywords based on broad concepts and structure them in tightly themed ad groups

When you’re building out keywords, don’t waste time with variations or long-tail terms. All keywords are broad-matched on the Display Network, so these variations won’t lead to additional reach.

Note: If your ads show up on placements that seem unrelated to your Display keywords, it’s possible they are being shown to someone based on their recent browsing history or other factors.

If you want to reach new and highly-qualified consumers who are actively researching products or services in your category, use in-market audiences. Make sure you target the audience that’s most relevant to your business; there are almost 500 categories to choose from. For example, you can find potential customers who are in-market for handbags or jewelry within the retail category.

Last but not least, new customers typically command higher CPAs versus existing customers. Keep this in mind as you set your target bids.


Avoid stacking multiple targeting methods for audience lists. Your ads won’t serve if you set too many restrictions.

Expand your reach with audience expansion 

If you need help to find additional customers within your campaign's targeting, turn on audience expansion. Google Ads audience expansion expands your reach to additional users to help you generate more conversions at or around the same cost per customer with Google Display ads.

Learn more about audience expansion.

Increase your campaigns' reach even further with upper funnel audiences

If your main goal is brand awareness and you need help to expand your Display campaigns' reach, consider using upper funnel segments, such as Affinity, Custom Affinity, Life Events and Detailed Demographics.

Affinity and Custom Affinity: Affinity segments are built specifically to capture what users are most passionate about. These insights reach audiences based on their shopping behavior, lifestyle, and consumption habits. Affinity audiences include people who frequently shop, dine out, visit salons, or attend live events. If you are trying to reach an audience that is not included in our Affinity audiences taxonomy, consider using Custom Affinity instead. We recommend inputting a few keywords and URLs so we can use that as a starting point to build a customized list for you.

Detailed Demographics: Detailed Demographics audiences allow you to reach users based on facts about their lives apart from age and gender (e.g. Homeownership, Marital status, Educational status, and Parenting stages). 

Life Events: Life events audiences allow you to reach people at key transition points in their lives, when they’re most likely to make important purchase decisions. Some examples of available segments are: Purchasing a home, Starting a new job and Retiring.

Note: It’s normal to get slightly higher target CPAs for prospecting audiences than for lower funnel ones. If using Smart Bidding, make sure to adjust targets slightly higher for those segments.

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5 Source: Google/Nielsen Study: Mobile Path to Purchase: Five Key Findings, November 2013.
6 Source: Google internal data, 2013.
7 Source: Calculated median from internal Google data, March 2015.

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