The whole idea behind Google Ads campaigns is to target the right customers, make sure they find you, and then proceed to drive them toward the final stages of the sales funnel.

Even though many businesses are still experimenting with a general ad approach or ‘scattershot’ advertisements, hoping to find their ideal customers, this typically results in a disconnect between money invested and any sales made.

This is why Google Display Network (GDN) exists: ensuring that your ads only reach the right people in the right place. A key function within GDN is Affinity Audiences which helps in identifying customer segments that are the most likely to buy from you – which means you’ll be using your ad spend a lot more effectively.

This article sheds light on what Affinity Audience is, how it works and how you can create your own to complement your marketing efforts and ROI targets.

Affinity Audiences explained

GDN uses Affinity Audiences to deliver your ads straight to the most relevant locations online, ensuring that these ads are viewed only by your target audience members. Google’s network targets over 90% of users across the globe so it’s really worth putting in a little time and effort into understanding and applying affinity audiences at scale.

Now, let’s break down the term Affinity Audience: audience is naturally the people you are targeting or who will see your ad, while affinity is a feeling of understanding or closeness someone has for somebody else due to similar ideas, interests or qualities. Merge them together and an Affinity Audience is essentially a group of prospective customers who all share similar qualities or interests – somewhat like buyer persona, if you will.

So why is the affinity audiences function within GDN important? It’s allows you to better align your ad campaigns with buyers who are fully interested in what you’re selling and motivated enough to buy it, once they find the right offer.

For instance, if you’re selling packaged milk while taking a sustainable approach, your affinity audience will likely comprise people who love milk and dairy, who are health conscious or even those who enjoy milk with their tea and coffee – as well as those who are also environmentally-conscious. Groups that possess both these qualities are much more likely to buy from you than either group might based on only one of the above qualities.

Affinity Targeting explained

Now that we have a general understanding around Affinity Audiences and how this function can influence your ad campaigns, it’s also important to gain some knowhow around Affinity Targeting. The latter is the process of identifying ideal affinities which align with what you’re selling. Let’s consider the packaged milk example again.

As you target buyers who love milk and dairy (and even coffee and tea with milk) because they will improve your brand placement – you are also effectively competing directly against many other brands who are selling similar products or the exact same product.

This is where additional affinity modifiers help you narrow down your focus even more to set your brand apart – e.g. fair labour practices, sustainable growth processes, no preservatives and non-GMO, environmental priorities, etc., you get the idea.

However, bear in mind that you can sometimes get a little too specific with the audience targeting. For instance, if your milk brand targets audience members who prefer low-fat milk only, you may end up with a lot of loyal customers who are interested in low-fat, low-calorie milk only – so your brand will lose broader appeal. Therefore, always bear in mind that you only want to narrow your focus down to your target user but without preventing yourself from reaching out to the larger demographic – i.e. simply people who love milk, whether it’s low-fat or full-fat, flavoured or non-flavoured.

How can I use Custom Audiences to my advantage?

The Google Ads and GDN platform already contain a number of pre-built Google affinity audiences (called segments) to help businesses get started, which you can leverage to help your marketing and advertising efforts. These segments include many, many different variations to cater to a broad target group – from users who are interested in politics or the news to home project DIY’ers to pet lovers, TV show fans – you name it!

However, Google cannot possibly cover everything. So, don’t be surprised if your product/service does not click right in with the existing segments – and this is where the beauty of custom affinity audiences comes into its own.

By now, we know that custom affinity audiences can be created in our Google Ads platform to fully align with the interests of our target base. Google can certainly suggest different segment tags depending on your input, but it always pays to do in-depth market research into your own ideal audience before using the custom affinity function within GDN.

With that said, custom affinity audiences can be created using four pieces of criteria:

  • URLs
  • Interests
  • Places
  • Applications

Generally speaking, Places and Applications are not quite as useful as URLs and interests. Here’s why:

In the packaged milk example we used above, there aren’t that many potential milk-related applications which we can use to set our audience apart. And even though geographical factors will impact buyer behaviour in some way or the other, it is simply not enough to justify the entire segment.

Now, URLs and Interests, on the other hand, can really help you dig deep down and identify the best affinity options which may be shared by your broader target market (and not just those interested in low-fat milk, like we discussed earlier).

Are there tried-and-tested best practices for making the most of custom affinity audiences? There most definitely are! Our in-house Google Ads PPC team specialises in all aspects of GDN, helping businesses make the most of their budget and ad campaigns. Speak to use now for a free initial consultation to see how this powerful platform can help you get your ad quickly in front of your target audience, while helping you generate the most ROI.

Published On: March 16th, 2023 / Categories: Content Marketing, Digital Marketing /

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