Over the past year, Google has been making waves by shifting toward a more audience-oriented approach to driving direct conversion performance. One of their recent ad tools, Custom Intent audiences for Display and YouTube, is well-suited for advanced audience targeting on the Google Display Network.

Targeting Options

At a basic level, Custom Intent audiences are a granular form of audience targeting that allow advertisers to zero-in on users who are in the market for highly specific products and services, based on their search term history. Within the Google Ads UI, advertisers now have the ability to create these audiences using specific keywords and even URLs. If you’re interested in testing Custom Intent audiences, we recommended creating audiences based on the following buckets:

Brand Terms

When deciding what keywords and URLs to target, your best bet will be to mimic your current search campaigns structure. You’ll want to start first with the terms that users are already using to find your site — namely, your brand terms. Doing this will allow you to push your product or service to one of your highest quality audiences, people who are already familiar with your brand.

Competitor Terms

Next on the list of custom intent audiences to create is one made up of your competitors’ names and URLs. Like your brand terms custom intent audience, this will ensure that the pool of users that are being served your image assets are already highly qualified, since they are already doing research on your competitors. What’s more, you can get especially creative with your image assets by leveraging your most competitive unique selling points. Depending on how saturated your industry is with competitors and how directly you compete with them (for example, if you’re a mom and pop shop competing against big box retailers), you might want to segment each competitor into its own respective audience for even more granularity.

Top Performing Non-Brand Terms

Lastly, consider creating audiences comprised of your strongest-performing non-brand terms. Same as you would in a search campaign, you’ll likely want to separate out your audiences by theme (ex: wood chair terms vs. metal chair terms) to ensure that you are keeping your audiences as granular as possible. This will allow you to easily segment out performance and show different ads to audiences with different intent.

Quick Tips

Before you launch your Custom Intent campaigns, make sure to keep these tips in mind:

  • While it may be tempting to launch a campaign full of different custom intent audiences overlaid at the ad group level, try separating them out into separate campaigns. This will allow you to more effectively leverage the campaign-level settings available, such as user frequency capping, bid strategy types, etc.
  • Although Google recommends having at least 500 keywords in each audience to ensure you have sufficient volume for an audience, we’ve found success with audiences with as few as 15 themed keywords. As long as the audience size is eligible to run, you will be able to overlay the audiences on your ad groups accordingly.
  • Despite Custom Intent’s potential to drive direct conversion traffic to your site, it is important to remember that your Display campaign will largely function as a brand awareness tool. As such, you might want to consider excluding your current site visitors audiences from whatever new campaigns you launch. This will ensure that they are being funneled into the appropriate display channels (such as your Remarketing campaigns).
  • Keep being creative! If you have any additional audience ideas other than the ones outlined above, you can always experiment by putting them into their own campaigns and setting them live for a limited run. Some other targeting options include terms related to influencer targeting efforts, traditional/offline advertising channels, podcast spots, etc.

If you’re looking for more help on Google Display strategy and new targeting types, contact our team.