By Charlotte Silveston

Targeting the right people is a crucial part of every advertising campaign. So why are audiences sometimes neglected in Paid Search? Let's look at the common barriers and how to overcome them.

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Dentures

Have you ever noticed the difference in daytime TV ads compared to those shown in the evening?

In the day, personal injury companies, denture manufacturers and baby accessories ads dominate the airwaves. Why? Because TV advertisers are trying to reach their target audiences. In other words, they are trying to get the most return from their budgets.

Paid Search audiences allow us to show ads to users who are most likely to convert. An advertiser could, for example, bid up on people who have already visited the website, or exclusively target women aged 18-25.

Kick-starting your audience targeting can drive huge uplifts in performance and efficiency – so why aren’t all advertisers using them effectively? Let’s look at some of the common stumbling blocks and how to address them.

Stumbling blocks

You have a low-volume account

‘I’d love to use audiences, but I don’t have enough conversion data to actually optimise them.’

A fair point, but there are ways to use audiences even if you only have a handful of conversions each week.

Low volume

1) Overlay audiences at campaign level. In the past, Google only allowed application of audiences at ad group-level but this has now changed. Removing ad group audiences and overlaying at campaign level instead is a great way to combat the ‘spread too thin’ scenario when it comes to data analysis and optimisation.

2) Apply audiences to Brand. Often overlooked because bidding up on audiences is redundant when you’re already in average position 1.0 – but what about using Brand audiences as a data-gathering tool? In almost every account, Brand achieves far more conversions than Generics because users have higher intent to convert; last month, 98% of conversions came through Brand for one of our large retail clients. Overlay lists on Brand campaigns and extrapolate your findings to Generics campaigns.

You have a high-spending account

‘I’d love to use audiences, but my budget’s small and I can’t afford to.’

A small budget can be a hindrance, but audiences can maximise efficiency and even save money!

Money

1) Make high-spending, low-performance campaigns RLSA only. Instead of targeting everyone, reduce costs by only targeting particular users. For example, you could just show ads to previous converters, or those already on the client’s CRM database (customer match). A potential pitfall of this approach is limiting your reach too much, in which case you could open up your campaign by bidding on more generic terms or using some modified broad match keywords. This will increase reach – but only for users who sit in your target audience.

2) Exclude poor-performing audiences. Let’s say you find that men aged 35-44 have a really poor conversion rate. Or perhaps you’re advertising a one-time service so targeting previous converters is redundant. Consider excluding these audiences and spend your budget more efficiently.

You need to get more creative with your audiences

‘My lists are not really doing very much.’

If you just use the standard ‘all visitors’ and ‘all converters’ lists, there are plenty of opportunities to expand your audience targeting.

Creative light bulb

1) Use Google Analytics lists. GA has the functionality to generate more creative lists than AdWords – segment by bounce rate, page depth, website events and more. Then there’s the Smart List, which skims the ‘best’ people off your existing remarketing lists and puts them into a new audience. We’ve found these lists work well in a number of verticals – for one recruitment client, Smart List conversion rate was 14% higher and CPA 28% lower than standard remarketing lists.

2) Overlay YouTube lists on Search campaigns. Show Search ads to people who have liked, commented on or shared your video or visited / subscribed to your channel. These users have already shown an interest in your brand so take advantage of that!

3) Use specific messaging for different audiences. Show special offer ads exclusively to users who have already visited your website or speak to men and women differently using tailored ad copy. Greater personalisation is key to strong performance.

Now what?

The world of Paid Search has been shifting towards audience-based marketing for some time now. You may be doing all the right things when it comes to optimising at keyword level, but are you sure that your audience strategy is up to scratch? Have a critical look at the audiences you have in place and identify areas for improvement in your strategy - don't miss out!

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