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Audience Targeting

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Digital Marketing - Study Notes:

What is it?

Audience targeting focuses on consumers within the pre-determined target market. It’s identifying targets or recipients of a particular advertising message. So, we’re targeting people.

It allows you to be more accurate when we’re choosing who sees your ads. It’s that word “who” that’s important. We’ve got in-market audiences and we’ve got other audience options available to us. Using audience targeting Google Ads is a way of segmenting your website users and creating campaigns around them, and that’s key. That is essential to what we’re doing, because it’s the segmentation of those audiences that allows for better targeting.


There are some different categories within the audience section:

  • Demographics: There’s a demographic targeting, which is the broadest, the least graceful audience targeting methodology. So, we’re targeting people simply based on their age and gender. And there are other defined options that are available within some markets on the Google Display Network, like parental status or indeed their income level, which could be relevant. But it may not be reflective of their current motivational need state.
  • Affinity audiences: We find that affinity audiences, based on their user interest and the type of profiles they match, is more conducive to driving brand affinity with the audience than targeting purely on demographics.
  • In-market: In-market audience is the most focused in on conversion. Google looks at all the different search signals, browsing signals, and different things like that, and it puts people in the in-market audience because it feels that they’re just about to make a purchase. So, if you just need to nudge them over the edge with a consideration piece or indeed get them with a conversion piece in your display advertising, in-market audience can be very powerful. They’re all predefined. Go through them, and just see whether your product is counted in the in-market audience selection list. It may not be there. Review the in-market audiences and see, whether the type of product that you sell is in that list, and whether it is relevant to you.
  • Remarketing: Remarketing is targeting those people who have been on your website before with your ad to either bring them back into the fold, or get them to convert, or give them an offer, or whatever it may be. You can target them across your app, across your website. If someone uses your app and you have a Google tag on it, you’re able to retarget them on the Google Display Network. It’s very powerful for cross-device, and cross-population of the audience targeting fields.
  • Similar audiences: These are automatically created audiences based on your remarketing lists. So if you have a remarketing list for all the people that buy on your website, Google will look at the number of signals and Facebook and all of the different platforms look at a number of signals that that audience has, and find those signals in people that haven’t been on your website before. These are called similar audiences, and can just expand the reach effectively over your display campaign by making it relevant to the similarities of your most valuable audience, which is your retargeting lists.

Demographic targeting

We begin with demographic targeting because it is the broadest methodology.

Demographic targeting is age, gender, parental status, and income. And a lot of the time because the Google Display Network is not a logged-in environment. People come up as their gender is unknown or their age is unknown. so we do find a large proportion of the Google Display Network functionality, such as age and gender, is quite limited because it’s based on an assumption from the type of browsing behavior that they might have versus Facebook where you have a profile that elects that you’re a male, and you’re aged 24, and you live in New York.

If I want to target 24-year-old males in New York, it’s far more accurate on Facebook than the Google Display Network. But it’s getting better as more and more people log into Chrome, and as more and more people log into their Gmail as they browse on Google. So it’s just not as accurate as the logged-in environments of social media.

Affinity audiences

These will be what they like to call TV audiences. These are people who are interested in a certain topic. For example, they are travel enthusiasts. They are shutterbugs for photography. They are fashionistas who are interested in fashion. They are petrol heads. They’re whatever they may be. They’re interested in certain topics. They’re interested in lots and lots of other things too, so you’re buying access to a mass reach and audience that has a certain affinity with a certain product.

You may sell that product. You also may not sell that product, but you just want to target that group because you believe that it is the most appropriate audience for your targeting. Similar to the way traditional advertising would have been set up, so you might want to target men who are in their 50s and who go on business travel. So we might find business travel affinity is an option to choose because you’re selling cologne. You’re not selling travel, but you are selling that product that relates to that particular audience.

You know, so that’s the type of thinking you need to apply to affinity audiences.

In-market audiences

In-market audiences are those very specific audiences who believe that they’re on the cusp of a purchase, they’re in the middle, they’ve done their research, Google has tracked all this, and they’ve put them in this group. They’re actively shopping around. So you can influence their consideration or indeed drive that sale through in-market audiences.

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Cathal Melinn

Cathal Melinn is a well-known digital marketing director, commercial analyst, and ecommerce specialist with over 15 years’ experience.

Cathal is a respected international conference speaker, course lecturer, and digital trainer. He specialises in driving complete understanding from students across a number of digital marketing disciplines including: paid and organic search (PPC and SEO), analytics, strategy and planning, social media, reporting, and optimisition.  Cathal works with digital professionals in over 80 countries and teaches at all levels of experience from beginner to advanced.

Alongside his training and course work, Cathal runs his own digital marketing agency and is considered an analytics and revenue generating guru - at enterprise level. He has extensive local and international experience working with top B2B and B2C brands across multiple industries.

Over his career, Cathal has worked client-Side, in digital marketing agencies and media owners with brands including HSBC, Amazon, Apple, Red Bull, Dell, Vodafone, Compare the Market, Aer Lingus, and Expedia.

He can be reached on LinkedIn here.

Data protection regulations affect almost all aspects of digital marketing. Therefore, DMI has produced a short course on GDPR for all of our students. If you wish to learn more about GDPR, you can do so here:

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