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Making the Most of Google’s New Custom Intent Audiences

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Just before the hectic holiday season in November 2017, Google showed us all how prepared it was for the madness. More prepared than the rest of us, it seemed. We hadn’t even begun to stock up on Axe aftershave sets for the family by then.

The Google team unveiled a bundle of new features and the one that seemed to get people buzzing most was the new custom intent audience feature, found on Google Display Network (GDN).


If you haven’t yet latched onto the benefits this new feature offers, you’re missing out. This is your opportunity to specifically seek out the people that want to buy your products, by using data gained from your previous campaigns, website and YouTube channel.

You should be using this to reach out to the people that are more than likely to want to buy your products in the foreseeable future. It’s all about connecting with the right people at the right time (i.e. as they’re making a purchase decision) and eliminating the randomness that often comes with trying to find new customers online.

You can do this in one of two ways:

  1. Create-your-own: The DIY method gives you complete customization on the people you target. You can combine topics and URLs together to find the prospects that are probably into your service or product.
  2. Automated creation: Allowing Google to use machine learning methods using your existing audiences and keywords to predict what your potential prospects should look like.

The option you go for depends almost entirely on how confident you feel with your skill and comfort level within Google Ads, as well as how familiar you are with your own target audience.

Both can be effective at filling the top of your funnel with good prospects, so don’t feel like you’re cheating if you use Google’s expertise instead of going DIY.


Google has found a new way to get you results, no matter what your skill level may be. Now, you can break free from the confines of the Display Network and its predefined audience categories and get more specific to your business.

This is your way to leave expensive paid search in the shadows. With all of the aggressive competition for top spots in paid SERP ads, advertisers prefer platforms where audience definition is key, rather than searcher intent.

Previous Google Display Network campaign types may have been too broad, so this is a great way to refine your targeting and drive more qualified leads. With the flexibility of choosing your own audiences, rather than selecting from pre-defined lists, this is a new way of funneling great leads.


When you’re choosing to create your own custom intent audiences, here are some tips to do the best you can do.

  • Conduct market research – look at your past campaigns, as well as the URLs, keywords and YouTube content that are getting the most attention from the right people, and use those findings to build your audience
  • Choose URLs with a common theme – make sure your chosen URLs are connected by similar topics or products, so that Google can recognize the common thread and find ideal users for your campaign
  • Don’t use URLs that require sign-in – Stick to publicly accessible URLs so Google’s insights don’t get confused. Try to keep them highly-related to your goal, so a product-level page works better than a home page, for example
  • Use related keywords – Use keywords that directly relate to your product or service, as well as synonyms that audiences might be using. If you’re stuck, Google’s Keyword Planner can help


If this is all sounding a bit “where the hell do I begin??” we’ve compiled the 3 principle steps you need to get your campaign up and running. So, head to your Ads account and we’ll guide the way.

  1. Find custom intent audiences. They live within the audience page of a display campaign. (Make sure you’re not looking in search campaigns because you won’t find it there.) Assign your preferred ad group or campaign, or create a new one, and select the targeting radio button. Then, make sure you select intent rather than affinity or remarketing.
    From there, you’ll be able to make your own custom intent audience or choose from Google’s auto-generation audiences.
  2. Creating your own custom intent audiences. If you’re confident enough to make your own custom intent audiences, this is how you do it. Select custom intent audiences and from there, go for the bold, blue new custom intent audience.
    This is where you can get to work entering your chosen keywords and URLs that stick to the theme you want to use to target prospects on the Display Network. When you’re happy with your choices, hit Create, Google Ads will take you to the previous interface to view estimated reach metrics.
  3. Google’s auto-generated results. If you’re leaving the work up to Google, you’re making use of its rich searcher data to help. The auto-create interface sets you up with some potential audiences. You can hover over these to identify some key characteristics of a given audience.
    You’ll find that the results are pretty highly-targeted and relevant to your topic, so expect some qualified leads to show up at the top of the funnel.


Google’s custom intent audiences are making it easy for advertisers to target a highly specific audience on the Display Network. It seems to us like this could be a revolutionary way to reduce ad spend while achieving targeting that could be catching up to Facebook’s laser targeting functions.

Even if you’re not familiar with your audience, Google’s auto-creation feature has the brain-power to select the right people to drive leads. Like all marketing campaigns, we recommend keeping a close eye on your analytics reports so you can continue to tweak your campaign as you learn what’s working for you.


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