Google custom audiences, the combo of custom affinity and custom intent audiences, now live

How custom audiences work for Display, Discovery, Gmail and YouTube campaigns.

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Google Ads Custom Audiences

Last year at Google Marketing Live, Google said it would be unifying custom affinity and custom intent audiences under a custom audience option. Custom audiences are available now in Google Ads for Display, Discovery, Gmail and YouTube campaigns.

How custom audiences work. You no longer create custom affinity or intent audiences. Now, when you set up a new custom audience from the Custom Audiences tab on the top menu of Audience Manager, you’ll have the option of building it based on either:

  1. People with any of these interests or purchase intentions.
  2. People who searched for any of these terms on Google properties (such as and YouTube).

You can then click the links below to expand the targeting with URLs, apps from a list, and/or also types of places they visit such as Video Game Stores or Financial Services, also from a dropdown list.

For example, I could create an audience based on people who use an app like TikTok OR visit places like Colleges & Universities OR Vegetarian Restaurants to expand my audience:

Google Ads Custom Audiences Targeting

As you build out a new custom audience reach estimates will appear in the right column. Though reach estimates aren’t available for mobile apps and places now.

Custom audiences then target for Reach, Consideration or Performance, depending on your campaign goal and bidding strategy.

Your targeting must comply with Google’s advertising on personalization and beware that sensitive keywords will serve only contextually or not at all.

Existing custom audiences. Any existing custom intent or custom affinity audiences you have will automatically be migrated into custom audiences.

Custom affinity audiences with keywords will convert to “People with any of these interests or purchase intentions,” as will Display custom intent audiences. Custom intent audiences on YouTube, Gmail and Discovery campaigns will convert to “People who searched for any of these terms on Google properties.”

Note that you can identify your old custom affinity or Display custom intent audiences that have been converted because they’re labeled as “Custom audience Search terms” in the Type column.

Important to note. Custom audiences can give you more flexibility and specificity with your targeting and are designed to automatically choose the right audience based on the inputs you provide and your campaign goal and bid strategy. It’s important to note, though, that the expansions for URLs, apps and places are in fact expansions rather than refinements — these are OR commands rather than AND commands.

This story first appeared on Search Engine Land.

Opinions expressed in this article are those of the guest author and not necessarily MarTech. Staff authors are listed here.

About the author

Ginny Marvin
Ginny Marvin was formerly Third Door Media’s Editor-in-Chief, running the day-to-day editorial operations across all publications and overseeing paid media coverage. Ginny Marvin wrote about paid digital advertising and analytics news and trends for Search Engine Land, Marketing Land and MarTech Today. With more than 15 years of marketing experience, Ginny has held both in-house and agency management positions. She can be found on Twitter as @ginnymarvin.

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