Build A Brilliant Google Ads Audience-First Strategy (Even If You Don’t Want To) via @sejournal, @amyppc

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If you’ve been moving with Google Ads/AdWords for a while, you cognize that it’s large for targeting intent.

By serving ads against keyword searches, you tin beforehand your merchandise oregon work to idiosyncratic precisely erstwhile they’re looking for it.

But “the almighty keyword” is losing its potency.

Not due to the fact that keyword targeting isn’t effective, but due to the fact that Google Ads is pivoting distant from contextual and keyword targeting successful favor of audiences.

As we suffer power of precision matching, we person 2 (seemingly) less-desirable options: Get amended astatine audience-first targeting, oregon suffer marketplace stock to those who do.

But, done right, Google Ads assemblage targeting is simply a large mode to scope – and make request among – your people market.

So, let’s look astatine what’s changing and however to triumph successful the caller “audience first” scenery – adjacent if you’d similar to instrumentality with keywords.

The Upside Of Audience-First For Alphabet

Whether oregon not a keyword-less attack is successful your company’s champion interest, it’s surely moving good for Google’s genitor institution Alphabet.

This illustration shows reported yearly gross (in billions), with an overlay of the merchandise of non-keyword products.

Alphabet's yearly  gross  chart, with caller   merchandise  names overlayedScreenshot from Statista, April 2021. Overlayed merchandise names added by author.

Google’s occurrence is evidently owed to much than conscionable keyword-less advertisement offerings. But the enlargement of its inventory is non-trivial.

Our prospects walk acold little clip Googling a merchandise than they bash not Googling a product.

If Google tin scope them erstwhile they’re online but not connected the SERP for a circumstantial query, the accidental for a paid click becomes astir limitless.

Your assemblage astatine immoderate fixed time:

small ellipse  representing SERP, somewhat  larger ellipse  representing contextual targeting, ample  ellipse  representing anyplace  onlineScreenshot by author, July 2022

This enlargement is large for Google’s bottommost line, but however astir yours?

Here’s a step-by-step look astatine however to physique an audience-first strategy that keeps you competitive.

Create An Audience-First Strategy

An audience-first strategy isn’t wholly antithetic from an intent-first strategy, but you’ll request to reframe however you people your prospects.

Define Your Campaign Objectives

The campaign’s extremity reveals the champion attack to instrumentality with strategy and targeting. Consider this frequently-asked audience question:

“Should I exclude remarketing from the audiences successful my campaign?”

If the intent of your run is to scope caller audiences, past it would marque consciousness to exclude anterior visitors oregon customers.

If, however, the nonsubjective is to scope radical who are acquainted with your brand, past this exclusion would beryllium fatal for that campaign.

Knowing your nonsubjective volition marque palmy assemblage enactment overmuch easier to deliberation through.

Define Your Audience And Segments

No, we’re not going to ideate a circumstantial idiosyncratic avatar, what colour garment they’re wearing, and what they ate for meal this morning.

Instead, see the attributes that marque your assemblage unsocial successful however they store for, value, oregon usage your merchandise oregon service.

Consider things like:

  • Who they are.
  • Why they’re that way.
  • How they’re solving their occupation today.

You mostly won’t find these answers successful your Google Ads data.

It requires enactment extracurricular of the level (such arsenic surveys oregon interviews) to probe the characteristics of your customers.

Let’s accidental you’re selling plant-based (vegan) burgers.

Your assemblage mightiness see aggregate segments:

  • Beef-lovers who request to trim their reddish nutrient consumption or privation to effort thing new.
  • Devout vegetarians who privation an alternative to adust achromatic legume patties.

Those 2 groups person antithetic desires, motivations, and alternate options.

They’ll respond champion to antithetic messages, and perchance antithetic landing pages and offers.

We’ll request a segmented connection strategy for the champion results.

Build Your Audiences And Segments In Google Ads

Once you cognize who you’re trying to reach, you request a program to scope them.

To scope vegetarians who mightiness bask our plant-based burgers, we could target:

  • Affinity > Food & Dining > Vegetarians & Vegans
  • Custom segment > Interested/purchase intent > Vegetarian recipes and products
  • Custom segment > Similar websites > DTC vegetarian sites (Boca, Morningstar Farm, Quorn)
  • Custom segment > Similar websites > Vegetarian publications (Vegetarian Times, VRG, Vegout Mag)
Google Ads UI showing "vegan" segments selection. Screenshot from Google Ads, April 2022

The assemblage conception types disposable successful a circumstantial run volition beryllium connected the campaign benignant oregon network you use.

For example, you tin people Life events (such arsenic marriage, graduation, oregon moves) connected Display, but not Search.

You tin make caller segments from Audience manager or straight successful your run oregon advertisement radical from the Audiences tab.

Some run types present person you prime an assemblage earlier adding ads oregon different selling assets.

Create Distinct, Specific Ad Groups And Campaigns

As with keywords, there’s nary consciousness successful gathering retired curated, thematic assemblage segments conscionable to worldly everything backmost into a azygous advertisement radical with generic ads.

Our “beef lovers” conception needs its ain advertisement radical and ads, abstracted from our “veggie” segment.

An objection to this regularisation is Search campaigns, wherever intent is strong, and assemblage segments tin beryllium layered into keyword targeting without separating them completely:

audiences connected  google adsScreenshot from Google Ads, June 2019

But for non-Search campaigns, your assemblage segments are filling-in for keyword intent, truthful you’ll privation to support chiseled segments separate.

Create Ads Targeted For Your Segments

You tin customize your ads for each marketplace conception with an audience-first strategy.

  • Our ads for vegetarian audiences tin promote benefits similar cruelty-free flavor while emphasizing that these burgers are, successful fact, vegan.
  • Our ads for beef lovers tin feature wellness benefits without sacrificing taste.

Test antithetic messaging and treatments of your ads to spot which execute the champion for your segments.

Track And Optimize Your Segments

You tin stack multiple, akin segments wrong an advertisement group.

If the aforesaid idiosyncratic matches much than 1 segment, Google Ads uses this hierarchy for which assemblage benignant gets the credit:

 Customer match, Remarketing / Similar audiences, Combined audiences, Affinity / In-market, Detailed demographicsScreenshot from Google Ads enactment page, July 2022

You’ll besides find a batch of assemblage conception information successful Audience Manager.

From Tools & Settings > Audience manager, conscionable click the sanction of your information conception to spot details like:

  • Segment members.
  • Match rate.
  • Network eligibility (including segment size).
  • Segment distribution.
  • Segment use.

Google Ads Audience managerScreenshot from Google Ads Audience manager, April 2022

Evaluate your assemblage show and edit your settings to optimize and amended your campaigns.

“Don’ts” Of Audience-First Targeting

  • Don’t people arbitrary attributes. Build assemblage segments and targeting astir meaningful attributes, not arbitrary observations. Categories similar property and sex are casual to track, but typically won’t specify your market.
  • Don’t usage conflicting settings. If your nonsubjective is to tally remarketing ads, don’t besides prime “optimized targeting,” which volition scope radical who haven’t engaged with your site.
  • Don’t “set it and hide it.” Just similar keyword optimization, assemblage optimization is an iterative process. Pay adjacent attraction to overly-broad presumption successful your customized segments.

“Do’s” Of Audience-First Targeting

Google Ads enactment    pageScreenshot from Google Ads enactment page, highlights by the author, July 2022

  • Do expect a learning curve. Google Ads has been evolving its functionality and terminology implicit the past respective years, making it consciousness caller and unfamiliar. Be diligent with yourself arsenic you (re)learn the ropes.
  • Do cognize the rules. Your industry, authorities restrictions, and different requirements volition interaction whether and however you tin market. Review Google Ads support documentation and updates regularly, truthful you tin enactment successful the loop.
  • Do recognize VUCA. VUCA is an acronym that stands for Volatility, Uncertainty, Complexity, and Ambiguity. No substance however choky the targeting you acceptable up, you won’t execute 100% accuracy. You tin see however your ain ads are personalized here. Expect immoderate messiness.

Google Ads SettingsScreenshot of Google Ads Settings, April 2022


An audience-first strategy for Google Ads volition assistance you imaginable and scope your people market.

Knowing however to radical and talk to idiosyncratic marketplace segments volition amended your show and summation your chances of success.

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Featured Image: Alones/Shutterstock