About custom segments

Starting on 1 May 2023, similar audiences (or segments) will be gradually phased out as a targeting feature. Learn more about this latest change to audience targeting

Custom segments help you reach your ideal audience by entering relevant keywords, URLs and apps.

You can set up a custom segment in your Display, Discovery, Gmail and Video campaigns by adding specific keywords, URLs and apps related to your product or service. Google Ads will review these additions to ensure that they abide by advertising policies, and then show ads to people with these interests or purchase intentions on pages, apps and videos. Learn more about audience targeting.


Estimate settings default to all campaign types, language and location. After you edit 'Audience insights' for the custom segments and save it, on re-opening the segment, the previous settings may reappear. These settings aren't saved, and they don't affect the performance of the segment.

How custom segments work

Custom segments automatically choose the right audience to best fit the needs of your campaign. Based on your campaign goals and bidding strategy, the system will interpret all of those signals and choose an audience that's focused on one of the following:

  • Reach
  • Consideration
  • Performance


Rather than reaching the Sports Fans affinity segment, a running shoe company may want to reach Avid Marathon Runners instead. With custom segments, the shoe company can define this segment by entering keywords, URLs, and apps:

  • Entering interests like '5K runs', '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 the Health & Fitness category that an Avid Marathon Runner may likely be interested in, like Google Fit.

Custom segment inputs

Reach people based on Inputs Audience type
Interest or behaviours Keywords

Enter interests, in the form of keywords or phrases, that represent your ideal customer. Your ads will reach people likely to be interested in or with purchase intent for your keywords based on their behaviour and activities, such as apps that they use or the type of content that they browse or search for online.

When you enter interests or behaviours, you have a choice of how Google should interpret the inputs:

  • People with any of these interests or purchase intentions (This is the default).
  • People who searched for any of these terms on Google properties (such as Google.com and YouTube). Only on campaigns running on Google properties. On other campaigns, they will be used as interests or purchase intentions.
People who browse websites similar to URL

Enter website addresses (URLs) that your ideal customer might visit. Your ads will reach people who browse websites similar to the URLs you enter.

Note: This doesn't mean that your ads will show on those URLs.

People who use apps similar to Apps

Enter the names of apps that you think your ideal customer might use. Your ads will reach people who download and use apps similar to the ones that you enter.

Note: This doesn’t mean that your ads will show on those apps.

Set up or edit custom segments

Set up custom segments from Audience Manager

  1. Sign in to your Google Ads account.
  2. Click the tools icon Google Ads | tools [Icon] in the navigation menu.
  3. Under 'Shared library', select Audience manager.
  4. From the menu at the top, select the Custom segments page.
  5. To create a new custom segment, click the plus button .
  6. Fill in a name for your custom segment.
  7. Then select:
    • People with any of these interests or purchase intentions. This is the default option. Enter keywords describing your ideal customer’s interests or products and services that they are actively researching to buy. Your ads will reach people with those interests or purchase intentions based on your campaign settings, such as marketing objectives or bidding strategy.
    • People who searched for any of these terms on Google. Enter search terms your ideal customer is using on Google properties (such as Google.com and YouTube). Your ads will reach people who searched for those and similar terms (only on campaigns running on Google properties). On other campaigns, the terms will be used as interest or purchase intentions.
  8. Click Create.

Add custom segment targeting to your campaign or ad group

Add custom segment targeting

  1. Sign in to your Google Ads account.
  2. Click Audiences in the subpage menu on the left.
  3. In the 'Audiences segment' module, click Edit audience segments.
  4. Click Select an ad group and then select a campaign and ad group from the list that appears. You can also search for the campaign or ad group you want to update.
  5. Select the audience segments you want your campaign to reach. Learn more about the types of audience segments that are available for each campaign type
  6. Click the tick box next to the segment you'd like to add. This will add them to your targeting.
  7. Click Save.

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