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It’s Easy to Misuse Google Audience Targeting. Here’s How to Get It Right.

Ellen Harvey

Google has released new tools to enable audience targeting on paid search. Unfortunately, many retailers misuse these features. Segmenting audiences into site visitors, cart abandoners, or past customers is half the battle. Delivering targeted messages to audience segments is the other often overlooked part of a successful targeting strategy.

In this article, we’ll explore the latest audience targeting tools—In-Market Audiences, Similar Audiences, and Retargeting Lists for Search Ads (RLSA). We’ll explain how to use these tools at different stages of the shopping journey, what type of paid search campaigns retailers should apply them to, and how to develop targeted ad copy for different audiences.

Target New Customers with In-Market & Similar Audiences

In-Market Audiences allows retail marketers to target shoppers who are actively searching for their products. The feature takes into account factors like past searches, website visits, and ad clicks to determine which consumers are in-market for a particular product. When enabled, it ensures ads are delivered to this valuable audience segment.

Similar Audiences also targets high-value shoppers, but it focuses targeting on new customers. Marketers must create a remarketing list in Google Ads in order to implement Similar Audiences. Google analyzes the behavior of past customers in the remarketing list, and identifies new shoppers who have similar behaviors. The tool ensures that retailers aren’t relying too heavily on past customers but are continually growing their audience of potential customers. 

Apply In-Market & Similar Audiences to Non-Brand Campaigns

Both targeting tools are especially valuable in non-brand campaigns. Non-brand campaigns target general search queries which are often research-based. For example, if a consumer is researching TV products to purchase, she is likely to search using a general term like “Best smart TV,” as opposed to a branded keyword. That makes In-Market Audiences an ideal targeting tool for non-brand campaigns. Likewise, shoppers in a Similar Audience list are often unfamiliar with a retailer’s brand and will more likely find a retailer’s ad using non-brand terms.

These targeting tools help retail marketers improve efficiency on non-brand campaigns, which tend to have lower conversion rates. Narrowing the audience to shoppers who are actively looking for a retailer’s products and shoppers who are similar to past customers increases the likelihood of a sale.

Ad Creative Tip: When using In-Market Audiences and Similar Audiences, align ad copy to the target audience. Emphasize promotions or offer a discount for an email sign-up to engage this new audience segment. If the ad copy does not resonate with the audience, the targeting tools are less effective. 

Nurture Past Visitors and Customers with RLSAs

Marketers can retarget previous site visitors and customers on Google paid search using Remarketing Lists for Search Ads (RLSAs). To use RLSAs, marketers must add a tag to their e-commerce site that enables retargeting.

For example, if a retailer wants to target past purchasers, the tag will track all shoppers who reach that retailer’s order confirmation page. Shoppers who reach this page will automatically be added to a retargeting list. Retail marketers can also target shoppers who’ve visited certain product pages or added items to their cart without purchasing. These lists develop defined audiences who retailers can target with more compelling ad copy. Retailers can communicate the exact information a shopper needs, depending on what stage of the shopping journey they’re in.

Marketers should increase bid adjustments on audiences who are closer to a purchase. If they are past purchasers, for example, the likelihood that they will buy another product from a retailer’s site is high. Bid adjustments for this audience list should be higher than site visitors who haven’t ever made a purchase with the retailer.

Use RLSAs in Brand & Trademark Campaigns

Retail marketers can apply RLSAs to trademark, brand, and non-brand campaigns, but shoppers who’ve visited a retailer’s site and are familiar with its brands are more likely to use brand and trademark terms. Brand and trademark campaigns can benefit significantly from retargeting lists, advancing the final stage of the sales process.

Ad Creative Tip: To engage past purchasers, highlight new product releases or restocks in the ad copy. Target site visitors or cart abandoners with a special discount on the product they viewed or showcase compelling product features.

Using all three of these audience targeting methods ensures that retailers are reaching shoppers at every stage of the sales journey, from initial research to the first click and the final purchase. Combining keyword targeting, audience targeting, and engaging ad copy creates a healthy pipeline of sales and ensures retailers’ ad dollars are being spent efficiently and effectively.

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