Use Google’s In-market Audiences to Find Qualified Prospects for Free

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What Are In-Market Audiences?

Search Marketers are always looking to take as much guesswork as possible out of their campaigns when looking for the right audience. Over the years Google has added a number of machine learning features and bidding methods to help search marketers along.

Audience tools, however, have generally only been available on the display end of advertising. Display In-Market and Affinity audiences have been around for quite some time using Google’s massive pool of customer data to target highly qualified users with ads across the GDN network.

For the search marketers, audiences have been more limited to internally collected data such as page visitors, and their activity on the website, after those visitors have already gone through the search funnel and landed onsite.

A rather recent addition to Search is In-Market Audiences. Search marketers can use these to layer on to search campaigns, without any extra spend, and without confining campaigns to only those audiences.

How They Work

In-Market audiences target those that Google has identified as being “in market” using browsing history, previous search queries, conversion activities and other special sauces that only Google knows.

The audiences cover a wide range of topics and interests and allow you to layer them on to campaigns using “Observation” as your targeting option. (Formerly ‘bid only’). Once you’ve selected your audiences, you can observe their activity over time and use bid adjustments to actually bid higher on audiences who type in your keywords. This gives you the ability to be more frugal and cautious in finding and fine-tuning your audience based on proven intent.

How to Use Them

Start by looking in the audience insights report in Google Ads. Google shows you which in-market and affinity audiences have a high index. For example, a 14.5x index means your converters are 14.5x more likely to also be members of a particular audience. Audiences with a high index may be a good target for your campaign.

In-Market Audience observations also allow you to get creative and test not only audiences that you know are more inclined toward your company, but also outside-the-box ideas. For example, you’re running a campaign targeted toward wealthy people looking to retire soon.

You can try out In-Market segments like “Cruises” and “golf equipment.” If you start seeing visitors with that profile, you can make bid adjustments to tell Google to prioritize them when displaying ads based on your standard keywords. You don’t have to adjust your terms to accommodate these audiences. If you aren’t seeing any interest from those segments, you can pause them, or even leave them on indefinitely, without having spent an extra dime for the learnings.

A very important point to keep in mind when observing In-Market audiences is to make sure you acquire a significant amount of data before acting on results. Often times looks can be deceiving and you might see an audience converting and clicking like crazy right out of the gate. The best bet is to collect enough data to prove they are actually a qualified audience to bid up. Make sure you’re basing your decisions to execute more broadly, on statistically significant data.

For example, we started leveraging audience-based bid adjustments, and after 2 weeks of data, we made a slight bid adjustment of +25%. After another 2 weeks of strong performance from this audience, we adjusted to 50% and saw performance continue to rise.

Any audience that might be even slightly relevant is worth testing. Remember, you can gather learnings on the audience segment without adjusting its bid, by using the observation setting.

A Winning Example

Here’s an example of choosing an In-Market Audience.

We recently had a financial services company running search campaigns geared toward wealth management in a localized region. Finding that audience was somewhat difficult since it’s a smaller pool of users in this case. Two or three conversions in a week can be a game changer for the client’s success.

We tested In-Market audiences for a number of different categories. After 2 weeks we saw that Google’s “Investment Services” audience was getting a consistent 18% higher CTR than our overall campaign. We bid up 25% on this audience, and saw a conversion within a couple of days, at 34% lower than the client’s target CPA

Eventually, we increased the bid to 50%, at which we began to see diminishing returns. So we adjusted back to 30% and have seen steady success since. We were able to find a winning combination, as well as the limit of how far we could take it.

In-Market Audiences function incredibly well as a testing ground, a learning tool, and ultimately a powerful optimization opportunity. Every search campaign can and will benefit enormously from this very welcome new feature from Google Ads.


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