Google Ads Guide: Creating, Managing & Leveraging Audiences

Google Ads has several options for targeting or excluding users from campaigns based on specific demographics, shared interests, and more.

In this post, we’ll be walking through each of the different Audience Types that you can leverage for targeting in your Google Ads campaigns. 

Take the time to get comfortable with recent privacy updates, and the impact of privacy on online advertising before jumping into this guide.


What Audience Types Are Available?

Google Ads has an array of audience targeting options that you can utilize based on your business and/or campaign objectives.


  • Target users who previously interacted with your product or service

Ex: Reaching users who abandoned their cart within your website 

Custom Audiences

  • Keyword Targeting: Target users who show an interest in a specific purchase category
  • URL Targeting: Target users who browse similar or competitor websites
  • App Targeting: Target users who use similar apps that you believe your target customer uses 

Ex: Reaching users who have been searching for “Men’s shoes” and also have the Nike app downloaded

Detailed Demographics (Availability Dependent)

  • Target by age, gender, household income, homeownership, education, etc.

Ex: Reaching users who are 18-24 with a Bachelor’s degree

Life Events

  • Target users who are on the brink of reaching a life milestone

Ex: Reaching users who are moving soon


  • Target users based on purchase intent

Ex: Reaching users


  • Target users based on passions and lifestyles

Ex: Reaching users who are Coffee Shop Regulars

Customer Match

  • Target users using online or offline data that customers have shared with you

Ex: Reaching users who have signed up for to receive more information for an upcoming product release

Similar Audiences

  • Target users who Google identifies as being like your existing Audiences


How to Create Audiences in Google Ads

  1. In Google Ads, select “Audiences” from the navigation menu
  2. Click "Add Audiences"
  3. Select which ad group or campaign to apply the Audience to
  4. Choose an Audience Targeting Setting:
    1. Targeting: Narrows reach
    2. Observation: Broadens pool, adds ability to monitor/adjust bids at the Audience level
  5. Select the best Audience Type for your campaign
  6. Click "Save" to complete the setup process!

You can also create and manage Audiences, as well as analyze performance by demographics, locations, devices, etc. in the "Audience Manager", under "Tools & Settings".


How to Manage Audiences in Google Ads

Now that you’ve created your audiences, you’re able to view and make adjustments at an Audience level. This allows you to gain and develop data-backed insights based on which Audiences Types generate the most efficient results for your campaigns.

In Google Ads, you'll see metrics in a similar way to how you would at a campaign or ad-group level. For example, you’ll be able to analyze how Coffee Shop Regulars are performing against Website Visitors for a variety of metrics (e.g. Spend, CTR, Avg CPC, etc.).

Depending on the bid strategy you are using, you’ll be able to learn from Audience level data to optimize and drive more efficiency for your campaigns:

  1. Manual Bidding: Manually set bid adjustments to increase or decrease bidding within these Audiences
  2. Smart Bidding: Automatically optimize bids on high performing Audiences

As you collect more Audience data over time, you’ll be able to identify which segments perform the best and make optimizations to past, present and future Google Ads efforts accordingly.


How to Leverage Audiences in Google Ads

After you’ve got a hang of which Audiences are performing well for your campaigns and ad groups, here are some ways to leverage what you learn:

  1. Repurpose Audiences in other campaigns or ad groups.
  2. Ensure Audiences are a core component of future campaigns to quickly take advantage of previous data.
  3. If you see a specific theme or area that is driving great results, test your hypothesis with experimentation.
  4. Explore other Audience Types that you haven't implement yet -- especially Google's auto-generated segments.

As with most other features in Google Ads, Audiences are not a "one-and-done" implementation -- you should continue to monitor and optimize based on performance and always look for areas to expand in.

Now that you’ve learned how to create, manage and leverage Google Ads Audiences in campaign strategies, check out these guides for more tips:


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Ren Soto
Ren Soto
Manager, Paid Media