google custom combined audiences
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Google Ads Custom Combined Audiences

You’ve spent a considerable amount of time building your Google audiences. You’ve created in-market audiences, affinity audiences, and remarketing audiences. Now, it’s time to combine them all. Yes, you read that correctly. Google now allows advertisers to create combined audiences.

Creating Advanced Customer Segments

With Google’s combined audiences, you can create advanced customer segments out of your existing audiences. Let’s assume you offer a particular product with some ancillary support products. Think of this as a set of four products that go together. These four can be purchased separately or all at one time.

Here is an example. Let’s assume the main product is a fishing rod and the ancillary products are the reel, fishing line, and lures. All four products have separate URLs and each product/URL represents a different segment. You’ve created a segment for “people who have visited the fishing rod page”, a segment for “people who have visited the reel page”, a segment for “people who have visited the fishing line page” and finally, another segment for “people who have visited the lures page”.

Some customers may have only visited one page, while others have visited two, three, or even all four pages. You may have customers who have only purchased one of the products but you know they will eventually purchase the others. Ultimately, combining these different segments into one all-encompassing segment means you’re able to keep all your products in front of your customers.

Google Ads Combined Audiences allows you to combine the segments into one condensed target audience. This means that any customer who looked at an URL or purchased one of the products would immediately be classified along with the other segments. You would then be able to target multiple segments for all four products and could then add more segments for new products as they become available. So, how do you get started?

Setting up Your Custom Combined Audiences

First, log into your Google Ads account. Once there, you’ll be presented with a menu on the left-hand sidebar. On that sidebar, you’ll find “Audiences”. Click on it. You’ll now be sent to a blank screen with an empty table. You’ll need to click on the “+” next to “Audiences”.

You now have the option between “Targeting” and “Observation”. Choose “targeting” and then click on “Browse”. You’ll be brought to a screen where you’re provided with five separate segmenting options. These options are outlined below.

  • Who they are (Detailed demographics)
  • What their interests and habits are (Affinity and custom affinity) 
  • What they’re actively researching or planning (In-Market) 
  • How they’ve interacted with your business (Remarketing and similar audiences)
  • Combined Audiences (Your audience combinations)

Choose the “Combined Audiences” option. You’ll now be presented with the builder pop-up screen for combined audiences. You can set the combined audiences to “target” for running campaigns or to “Observation” to better understand the breakdown of the segment’s volume of participants. The observation option is a good tool to use before going live on a campaign. It will provide you with some invaluable insights into the size and behaviors of the segment.

Google allows you to create a combined segment in an “AND”, “OR”, or “NOT” designation. For the “AND” relationship, you can combine up to five segments by either adding the five segments in the five separate lines or by clicking the “AND” button. You can do the same with the “OR” options and even exclude certain audiences with the “NOT” option.

Google Combined Audience Requirements

Google allows you to create custom combined audiences by combining website visitors, app users, customer segments, and video users. Combined audiences must have a minimum of 1000 users. This is a cumulative total of all of your segments and should be easy to attain. However, if you are unable to attain this number, then Google will temporarily pause the campaign. The number of users is updated in real-time.

Benefits of Combined Audiences

The ability to target multiple segments is an immediate benefit of combined audiences. However, there are other less obvious benefits. One of these involves cleaning up lists. Using combined audiences is a great way to eliminate redundant audience lists. It’s common for audience lists to take on a life of their own. Advertisers are then left trying to work through and analyze the results of multiple audience lists. Instead, a few combined audience lists will make it easier to manage and simpler when analyzing results and metrics.

You can also build buyer personas for future product launches with combined audiences. If you have a new complementary product you’re thinking of launching and understand the type of audience you would need to target, then you can create a fictitious segment and analyze results long before launching the product. In essence, you would be using the intelligence gathered from existing segments to define a new potential buyer persona. You could then use that persona for other digital marketing strategies.

Drawbacks of Combined Audiences

When running combined audiences, be careful not to become too precise in your segments. Using the “AND”, “OR”, or “NOT” designations will allow you to be extremely accurate. However, you don’t want to become so accurate in your customer segments that you’re excluding portions of your market. This is why it’s a good idea to start small with these designations and then gradually build them up over time. It’s especially important if your current audiences are small.

Unfortunately, one of the current drawbacks of the combined audiences is that Google doesn’t provide a way to see which audiences are driving the most engagement. This hampers your ability to define which segment is performing best and how to duplicate results with the remaining segments. This is why it’s best to start with fewer segments in your combined audience and analyze results before adding new segments. This will allow you to better understand the individual contributions of each segment better than simply relying upon guesswork. 

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