Getting Started

Last updated November 2nd 2023

This section provides a comprehensive guide to Audiences in Google Ads, one of the most powerful and underutilised targeting methods available to advertisers. We'll cover all 14 audience segment types, as well as all options and settings, and we'll explore the many use cases for audiences to help you get the most out of them.

How Google builds Audiences

Google holds an unparalleled (and frankly, frightening) amount of information about its users, and knows nearly everything there is to know about their online activity. Alphabet Inc's core business strategy is to offer fantastic products for free, gather data, and monetise through Google Ads.

Consider for a moment the web assets Alphabet holds and how they could inform audiences:

Alphabet web assets

Pair this data with a leading AI team, who are assembling this data into cohorts and drawing correlations at scale, and you could conclude that no company is better positioned to build out audiences for the use of advertising.

However, in practice, Google's audiences can be a bit hit or miss. For example, if you check out your My Ad Center, which reveals some of the attributes that Google thinks they know about you, you may find inaccuracies.

In a previous version of this dashboard, Google used to reveal which topics it believed you were interested in, and many advertisers reported significant inaccuracies there as well. So maybe in practice, Google’s audiences aren’t as precise as we might think.

Resources & Further Reading

My Ad Center This is a place where you can “control the info used for ads”. But it also reveals Google’s understanding of who you are. Many times, the information is not accurate.

Audience Segment compatibility

Audience segment compatibility

It can be hard to know which audiences are available and which are compatible with which channel, it is a good time investment to go through the complete list on a case-by-case basis as granularity varies.

Resources & Further Reading

"The Ultimate List Of Google Ads Targeting (Complete List Of Audiences, Topics, and More!)" A frequently updated complete list of audiences available in Google Ads across the different advertising channels.

Types of Audience segments

There are more than dozen types of audiences in Google Ads. These used to be referred to as “audience types” and are now referred to as “audience segments”.

There are two broad categories of audience segments:

  • “ready-made” audience segments (known as "Google's segments" or "Google-owned audiences" such as in-market and affinity audiences) and
  • “build your own” audience segments (such as "your data segments" like remarketing lists or customer match lists and "custom segments").

On the following pages, we will cover all of these along with best practices and pitfalls to avoid.


Guillaume DevinatGuillaume Devinat
Nya StormNya Storm
Emma DahlmannEmma Dahlmann
Your connection appears to be offline. Please check your network settings.