Last updated November 2nd 2023
These are out-of-the-box audience segments that you can apply to your campaigns. There are 4 types of “google-owned” audience segments:
- Detailed demographics (parental status, marital status, education, home ownership, employment status)
- Affinity (based on what users are “passionate about and their habits and interests”)
- In-market (purchase intent)
- Life events (”important life milestones”)
The relevance of audience types and their impact on account performance will vary greatly depending on the business.
Detailed demographics are not to be confused with standard “demographics” like age, gender, parental status and household income.
Standard demographics are:
- Age: '18–24', '25–34', '35–44', '45–54', '55–64', '65+' and 'Unknown'
- Gender: 'Female', 'Male' and 'Unknown'
- Household income: 'Top 10%', '11–20%', '21–30%', '31–40%', '41–50%', 'Lower 50%' and 'Unknown'
- Parental status: 'Parent', 'Not a parent' and 'Unknown'
These are available for all campaign types (with the exception of parental status which is not available for search campaigns. Also note that household income is only available for Australia, Brazil, Hong Kong, India, Indonesia, Japan, Mexico, New Zealand, South Korea, Singapore, Thailand and the United States).
In 2018, Google Ads extended their demographic targeting to include 5 more dimensions:
- Parental status (with age brackets of the child/children)
- Marital status
- Homeownership status
Detailed demographics are accessed through Audiences, whereas standard demographics are accessed via a tab in the campaign view of the Google Ads UI.
While the standard demographic targeting also includes a category named "Parental Status," the detailed demographics parental status option allows advertisers to target parents with children of a particular age group.
Your client is a custom children’s book publisher. You could consider layering in “Parents of Preschoolers (4-5 years)” as an observation audience, and if there’s a significant uplift in results, you might choose to build out an ad group or campaign dedicated to that audience.
Note that these options can also be used as exclusions. For example, if your client was a chain of luxury vacation resorts, you might want to layer in “Parents of infants (0-1 years)” and “Parents of Toddlers (1-3 years)” with the thesis that this audience may prefer more family-friendly destinations that cater specifically to young children. Again, you might add these audiences as observation, with a view to use them as exclusions if and when the data confirms a correlation with poor performance.
“Marital status” allows you to target users based on their relationship status, based on three different categories:
- In a relationship
Your client is a divorce attorney. You might choose to layer in all 3 options as observation, with a view to exclude the “Single” and “In a Relationship” audience segments and double down on the “Married” segment.
Layering in these audience segments as "observation only" can give you additional insight on valuable groups to target, or to down adjust bids or exclude.
“Homeownership Status” allows you to target users based on wether or not they are home owners, these are divided into two categories:
- Home owners
Your client is a home improvement store promoting products related to home renovation, built-in furniture, and other household needs. You might choose to exclude “Renters” and double down on “Homeowners”.
“Employment Status” enables you to target users based on their employment status, this segment allows for quite detailed selection as it provides the option to select employer size and industry.
Your client sells corporate training programs, including professional development programs, leadership training, and skill enhancement courses. You might choose to exclude “Small Employer (1-249 Employees) and double down on “Very Large Employer (10k+ Employees)”.
Affinity is akin to a permanent trait of a person, once you are in an affinity audience you are likely to stay there for many years. These audiences are towards the top of the funnel, as users are not necessarily looking to make purchases. Instead they have a general interest in the audience theme, Google determines this based on their search patterns and other behaviours online.
As an upper funnel audience type, affinity segments are best for prospecting, and not efficient for targeting sales and immediate converters. Affinity audiences are available for display, search, video, hotel, shopping and performance max campaigns.
If your company sells hiking boots and you want to expand your audience for your campaign, you could target an affinity audience called "hiking enthusiasts". This audience consists of regular hikers who may not be actively searching for hiking boots to buy currently.
Targeting this audience may not result in an immediate increase in conversions, but it can help introduce your product to potential customers and generate upper-funnel traffic.
In-market audiences are comprised of users who are actively looking to purchase the product or service type you are selling. In-market is based on users with this current search behaviour, making this audience a dynamic one, which users rapidly move in and out of.
In-market audiences are available for display, search, video, hotel, shopping and performance max campaigns.
Your client is an e-commerce store offering baby clothes, you target in market audiences “baby clothes”. This tells Google to bid on queries from users who have recently searched for “buy onesie” “baby socks size 4” and similar. These users are proven bottom of funnel, ready to make a purchase.
Google creates life event audiences by combining user input data, third-party data, and inferences based on users' online behaviour. These audiences are grouped together with in-market audiences, and are based on a user's current search behaviour. Users are in life events audiences for a relatively short amount of time, similarly to in-market audiences.
Life event audiences enable you to target individuals during or after a significant life event, such as a marriage or a move. Life event audiences are available for display, video, shopping and performance max.
The categories available to chose from are:
- Business Creation: Recently Started a Business, Starting a Business Soon
- College Graduation: Graduating Soon, Recently Graduated
- Job Change: Recently Started New Job, Starting New Job Soon
- Marriage: Getting Married Soon, Recently Married
- Moving: Moving Soon, Recently Moved
- Purchasing a Home: Purchasing a Home Soon, Recently Purchased a Home
- Retirement: Recently Retired, Retiring Soon
Your client is a business insurance provider looking to maximise leads via their website. Here you can target the segment “Starting a Business Soon” to engage with users in the process of setting up their business.