in market or affinity audiences
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Google Ads In-Market Audiences & Affinity Audience Targeting

Success in today’s digital marketplace isn’t just about identifying your target audience. It’s not enough just to know where they gather online, what they read, and what they see. You need to take it a step further and be able to break down that audience into different categories or segments. Only then will you be able to properly target them with the right offer at the right time.

Google has provided advertisers with segmenting tools within their Google Display Ads that help to break up their audience into manageable groups. Segmenting your audience will help you target each of your customer groups with tailor-made offers. You’ll be able to maximize your digital marketing returns by targeting specific portions of your customer base.

Google Ads In-Market Audiences and Affinity Audiences are two ways you can ensure your Google Display Ads are targeting the right audience. Remember, Google Display Ads do not show up in Google’s search network. These ads are only for customers who are consuming content. They appear alongside content on websites, social media, blogs, forums, and video hosting services (YouTube). However, they are visual ads that consumers are drawn to and they are great at keeping your brand in front of your customers.

We’ll explain what in-market audiences and affinity audiences are, why you should target them, and how to go about setting up each campaign in your Google Ads account.

In-Market Audience

This segment includes customers who are currently searching and comparing specific products and services online. They exhibit certain behaviors online that Google can track. The potential customers have either performed searches on Google’s search network or have clicked on Google Display Ads for similar products to what your company offers.

Google can categorize this customer segment based upon the types of searches they perform, the ads they click on, the websites they visit, and the frequency of these visits and searches. In essence, the user’s browser history helps Google determine who these individuals are and how close they are to purchasing. This means Google can present your Google Display Ad at just the right time.   

  • Why target in-market audiences?

Simply put, these users represent the top of your funnel. These are purchase-ready customers that are interested in your product or service offering. They have spent time researching and comparing solutions and are close to making a go/no-go purchasing decision.

Targeting this audience means you’re focusing on potential customers who are at the end of their buying decision. These are individuals who are about to make a purchase and this segmenting tool allows you to target them in real-time to increase your conversion rate.

  • How do you target in-market audiences?

You can target this audience by going to your Google Ads account and clicking on “audiences”. Next, click on “select an ad group” which will bring up a list where you can select the campaign and ad group. You’ll then click on “targeting”. Next, click on “browse”. After clicking on browse, you’ll be presented with up to five targeting options. Choose the one that says “What they’re actively researching or planning” with the words “In-Market” in parentheses right below.

Once you’ve selected “What they’re actively researching or planning” (In-Market) you’ll be presented with a drop-down menu of multiple in-market audience segments and sub-segments. Choose the segment that defines what audience would buy your products or services. Finally, click “Save”.

Affinity Audience

Affinity audiences include a more diverse audience when compared to in-market audiences. An affinity audience is a group of people who share common interests and therefore have an “affinity” for certain products and services. Much like in-market audiences, Google can piece together certain online behaviors that help to define who these individuals are. However, this market is nowhere near a final purchasing decision. Instead, they are individuals who share common interests who may be interested in your product or service offering.

  • Why target affinity audiences?

While not as “precise” as in-market audiences, this is still an audience worth targeting. Think of this audience as a group of people who could potentially become your customers. These are individuals who have similar attributes to your existing customers. In some ways, this audience can be seen as a step before your in-market audience. They share common attributes to your in-market audience but are not yet at the same buying stage. All that’s needed is your guidance to get them to take the next step.

  • How do you target affinity audiences?

When setting up affinity audiences, you’ll need to think of five different apps, places, identifiers, or websites (URLs) that best describe your audience. Think of the websites this group would visit, the apps they would download onto their mobile phones, and the places and interests this group shares.

Go to your Google Ad account and find the audience tab. Click on “what their interests and habits are” where you’ll see “Affinity and Custom Affinity” in parentheses. This will bring you to a screen where you can name your audience and add the aforementioned identifiers under the heading that reads “Define your audience by adding relevant interests, URLs, places or apps”. Then click “Save”. You have now successfully created a custom affinity audience.

The Importance of Targeting

Everybody has experienced Google’s targeting effectiveness. Think about a recent search you performed. You likely looked up something that interested you. It might have been something you wanted to buy or somewhere you wanted to visit. You may have even read up on this particular product or destination. After you’ve abandoned your search, you start to notice Google Display Ads on other websites or your mobile phone.

While this reminder appears to be subtle, it’s anything but. Eventually, after all these reminders, you went ahead and made a purchase. Most people aren’t aware this is happening. They merely go about their day unaware that they are being targeted. However, it’s effective and this is what you can expect when you properly target and segment your audience.  

Be sure to measure the performance of both campaigns. You may find that one targeting rule works better than another. As you get more comfortable with these segments, you can then graduate to using other Google segments. 

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