By Laura Gleadhill

If you're in the Paid Search industry, you should have a relatively good concept of the benefits of overlaying audiences onto your campaigns. In this blog, I'll outline the concept around audience-split accounts and weigh up the pros and cons of audience-led account structures.

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Audience-led accounts are relatively simple once you have decided on the audiences/profiles you want to segment. For some people, a simple new vs returning users split may suffice. Other larger clients might want to do something a bit more complex and look at the value of their customers and the way these customers interact with their brand. For example, there are a plethora of reasons you might want to tailor your search strategy differently for someone who spends at least £50 a month with you compared to someone who bought from you once six months ago. 

Once you have decided the key categories of your customer and how to define them, you simply duplicate/triple/quadruple your campaigns to have a separate campaign targeting each type of customer. Although this is something that could also be done at ad group level, the simplicity of ongoing management is easier once done at a campaign level.

So why would you do this?

Audiences are very much at the forefront of paid search’s focus right now, with abilities in personalisation and targeting being two major wins for this channel.

Firstly, you have the ability to tailor your copy per audience. For example, for a high value customer you might speak to them in a more casual, brand-friendly tone of voice, due to their pre-existing affinity to your brand. For someone who is new to the brand, you might focus more on your USPs and why they should shop with you. This leads us nicely to the idea that you can then offer different deals or offers based on someone’s propensity to convert. For example, perhaps a make-up brand would target males with 20% off all gift sets whereas for women they would offer a free lipstick; this could easily be done at scale with campaigns split by gender.

Example of messaging per audience

The ability to tailor your copy and offers per audience is a definite positive for the customer experience but would be totally lost without the use of different landing pages. This also highlights a win for segmentation over IF functions, which at present do not allow you to send your audiences to different pages. Another win for segmentation is the ability to use different creative on the display network. Showing “% off your first order” vs. “% off when you spend £30 or more” is just one of the many personalisation success stories we have seen.

Structuring your account by audience also allows you to choose far more specifically what keywords you bid on depending on the person searching for them. An obvious example of this is to bid on more generic keywords the more affiliated someone is with your brand. A potentially less obvious example would be the decision to bid on certain products in the first place. If you were a high end furniture manufacturer, expanding your business into kitchenware you might be cautious of pushing a lot of advertising spend in an industry in which you are very new. If you had a customer segment of people who spend over £500 with you every three months, this audience would arguably have a high enough opinion of your brand to target with your kitchenware ads.

This works with Shopping ads as well. Imagine a women’s apparel shop expands into something more niche such as household accessories. Someone who shops with them regularly is more likely to convert when they see this brand’s advert after searching for “sofa cushions” than someone who has never visited their site before. Using custom labels and audience targeted campaigns, you can ensure you show certain products to certain groups of people. On the other hand, if you know that someone who has an account on your site is searching for your brand when they want to login, you can turn off brand coverage for this group all together.

This all sounds great, why wouldn’t I do this?

Most importantly, you need to consider if the account would benefit from this type of structure. The main thing to think about is:

Are there separate groups of customers who perform differently and should be treated differently?

As with all account restructures, this takes some time to settle and start performing as expected and can lead to a few weeks of suboptimal performance. To reduce this, you could consider restructuring in sections, but it is important to be aware of the impact this could have on performance. It may be worth testing the method on one campaign first, to make sure you don’t see traffic volume decrease.

It also leads to an increase in the time taken to manage the account. It would be amazing to go incredibly granular but you then divide up the volumes of data you get through your campaigns. On that note, it is important to ensure that you have enough people in your audiences to be showing. There is no point segmenting accounts into five audiences if you then cannot target them. Be realistic about what time allows you to do and what segments are actually necessary.


The take home message is, if you have a high volume account with customer segments that would benefit from being targeted differently, this is a worthwhile strategy to think about implementing. If your customer segments represent a customer journey - think new vs returning or cold, warm, hot - then it is worth setting up an attribution model aside from last click to ensure you are crediting the correct audiences with their value to conversion. Lastly, always ensure you have a catch-all list. Targeting specific audiences with messaging, offers and on-site experiences that are more likely to make them personally convert is great, but not if you lose a large proportion of your traffic in the process.

If you are interested in getting your audience strategy kick-started or re-vamped by our team, get in touch today!

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