About custom segments

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.

Previously, you could create custom intent or custom affinity segments. With the new custom segments this choice is no longer needed: based on your campaign goals and keywords, the new custom segments will interpret all of these signals behind the scenes to tune towards Reach, Consideration or Performance, bringing efficiency to your account management. If you’ve previously selected to target segments by custom intent and custom affinity, you don’t need to do anything. Those segments will be automatically migrated. (Please note that there is no impact on performance nor loss of functionality in existing segments once the migration to custom segments happens).

Note:

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, you might see the previous settings 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 is focused on one of the following:

  • Reach
  • Consideration
  • Performance

Example:

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/or 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 behaviors 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 behavior and activities, such as apps they use or the type of content they browse or search for online.

When you enter interests or behaviors, 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 URLs

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 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 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 upper right corner.
  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 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.

Migration of your existing custom intent and custom affinity segments

If you’ve previously set up custom intent or custom affinity segments, you don’t need to make any changes. All of the inputs will be automatically migrated to the custom segment. In addition, if the custom affinity or custom intent segment has keywords:

  • Custom affinity on all campaigns: Audience segments with keywords will become “People with any of these interests or purchase intentions"
  • Custom intent on Display campaigns: Audience segments with keywords will become “People with any of these interests or purchase intentions."
  • Custom intent on YouTube, Gmail and Discovery campaigns: Audience segments will become “People who searched for any of these terms on Google properties (such as Google.com and YouTube)”
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