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 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:
Select Audiences on the left-side menu.
Click on the blue pencil icon to add a new audience.
Select the Search campaign or ad group that you’d like to add the audience to, and click on BROWSE.
If available, combined audiences will be the fifth option at the bottom of the list (see screenshot above).
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).
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.--