Google Ads Rolls Out Combined Audiences for Search

Quinn Dolan
December 12, 2019

Advertisers familiar with Facebook Ads Manager know that audience layering has been around for quite some time. This handy feature allows for more granular targeting across interests, demographics, and behaviors.

That being said, this kind of audience layering, specifically with “AND” directives, hasn’t been available on Google until now.

How Combined Audiences work

Last month, Google Ads quietly rolled out Combined Audiences. This tool allows advertisers to create layered audiences for Google Search campaigns. With this new feature, brands can create audiences, or “personas”, by layering and combining demographic, in-market, affinity, remarketing, and similar audiences.

combined audience feature in google ads

Combined Audiences create combinations based on “AND”, “OR”, or “NOT” commands. Advertisers were previously able to target multiple audiences in one campaign (“OR”) and exclude any unwanted audiences (“NOT”); now, they can narrow their audiences with “AND” directives. This allows for significantly more granular targeting across Search campaigns.

Because these audiences are overlaid on Search campaigns, users who match the combined audience criteria must also be searching for the keywords in that campaign, in order to see an ad.

For privacy reasons, Google’s Combined Audiences must have at least 1,000 members. If an audience doesn’t hit this threshold, Google will automatically pause it.

How to set up Combined Audiences

Here’s an easy, step-by-step guide to creating a Combined Audience:

  1. Select Audiences on the left-side menu.

  2.  Click on the blue pencil icon to add a new audience.

  3.  Select the Search campaign or ad group that you’d like to add the audience to, and click on BROWSE.

  4. If available, combined audiences will be the fifth option at the bottom of the list (see screenshot above).

  5. From here, fill in the fields to combine and exclude audiences. Again, all of Google’s previous audience targeting is available, including detailed demographics, affinity, in-market, remarketing, and similar audiences.

As an example, imagine that you run an e-commerce sports apparel brand that specifically sells basketball-related paraphernalia. During Black Friday, you hope to reach an audience of Black Friday shoppers interested in basketball through your Google Search campaigns. You can do just that with Combined Audiences (see screenshot below).

combined audience feature in google ads with black friday shopping search

With the above example, you can see how powerful this new feature is. You’re even able to exclude Baseball Fans (among others) from the targeting.

The benefits of Combined Audiences 

Google has been improving audience targeting capabilities on Search for several years now, but the ability to create and test narrower audiences and “personas” is a game-changer. Because Combined Audiences are brand new, there isn’t much data around performance yet. At the very least, we strongly encourage giving this feature a test, in order to fine-tune your Search campaign targeting.

For now, Combined Audiences are only available on Search, but we wouldn’t be surprised if Google adds them to Display sometime in the near future (here’s hoping!). Assuming this is the case, it’ll be even more important to test these audiences now.

New to Google Ads? We’ve got you covered with our four things to look at so you’re starting point will set you on the path to a great digital marketing strategy. 
If you’re looking for more help with your ads and campaigns, you’ve come to the right place. Contact us, we’re the experts

Quinn Dolan
Director of Search & Social Advertising

Quinn, a Notre Dame alum, hails from Oconomowoc, Wisconsin (A.K.A. BROconomowoc, A.K.A. The Real OC). Though he’s not afraid to admit that he wants to swim in a pool of spaghetti noodles, his guilty pleasures are shower beers and The Bachelor.

Ready to Take the Next Step?

Our digital marketing services will take your business to the next level.

Start your journey with a free site audit.