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Audience Targeting

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Digital Marketing - Study Notes:

What is audience targeting?

Audience targeting allows you to be more accurate when choosing who sees your ads. Using an audience targeting allows you to reach users across the web based on their behavior online, and the signals these actions send about their likes, and their interests, and their purchase patterns.


Audience targeting takes a number of forms.

  • Demographic targeting involves targeting people based on their age, gender, parental status, or perhaps their income.
  • Affinity audiences are lifestyle and interest profiles based on the user's browsing behavior.
  • An in-market audience is likely to be in market for a particular product or service.
  • Remarketing targets users who have previously visited your website, or viewed one of your videos on YouTube.
  • Using similar audiences involves creating a mirror audience based on your remarketing lists or customer email list.

Demographic targeting

Looking at demographic targeting, you can set your bids based on someone's age, gender, their parental status, or their household income in some cases.

"Unknown" within the AdWords interface refers to people whose age, gender, or parental status can't be identified or inferred from what they visited online, but you shouldn't exclude unknown ages or genders from targeting as they can often represent a very large number of users.

The age and gender information are based on the information within someone's Google account, so it will be based on logged in users. Otherwise, the system will do a best guess based on their browsing behavior. To exclude this segment is to significantly restrict your reach. Most people will fall into the "Unknown" category for display, but it's much more accurate for YouTube, so it wouldn't be advised to exclude unknown ages or demographics for your display campaigns.

Affinity audiences

If you're familiar with TV audiences, you'll already be familiar with the concept of an affinity audience. Affinity audiences are particularly good for brand awareness. It's the broadest audience targeting option available. It reaches people at the beginning of their buying journey. When using an affinity audience, you're targeting people who have shown an interest in particular products and services based on the content they interact with, the purchases that they've made, or websites that they frequently visit.

You have options such as beauty junkies or outdoor enthusiasts, for example. And you can also create a customer affinity audience by blending these interests together for a specific cross section of users, such as travel buffs who are also interested in health and fitness because you might want to advertise hiking holidays to them.

In-market audiences

When a user transitions from being interested in a subject to actively beginning their buying journey, they become in market.

In market audiences are very good for reaching people who are in the middle to the end of their buying cycle, and a user is only counted as part of an in market audiences for seven days, up to the point that they make a purchase, or they stop showing interest. This can mean that the reach can be smaller than other targeting options, but it also means it's highly effective because it's far more targeting, and it dynamically updates as the users are constantly joining and leaving these audiences.


Remarketing lets you show ads to people who have previously visited your website, watched your YouTube content, or engaged with your app. It allows you to reengage with them as they visit sites of the GGN or watch more videos on YouTube. For example, if a visitor left your website without buying anything, remarketing could help you reengage with them by showing them an ad.

You can also remarket to users who have watched your videos with further videos to watch.

Similar audiences

Similar audiences are a custom audience solution. They allow you to create a list of new users based on the list of existing users. When you create similar audiences, you can show ads to audiences who are similar to those in your remarketing list, or your video viewers list.

These similarities are based on shared traits between their online behavior. You can base your similar audience list on your past visitors remarketing, and effectively broaden your reach to more interested users online, or you could take a list of converted users and potentially find more of your ideal customers.

Adding audience targeting

We'll begin by adding our audience targeting to our ad groups. Here I've created tech-savvy young professionals.

We navigate to the Audiences tab, click the pencil or the plus to add new targeting, and we have a choice between our infinity, intent, and life events, or remarketing. Here I've chosen infinity audience. Within Technology, I'm going to pick technophiles, people who have clearly shown an interest in technology.

You'll see that they'll appear over to the right when you've added them. Within Intent, we have our in-market audience and our life events. I'm also going to add IT and technical jobs for people who are in market for a new tech job.

Save this targeting, and it's been applied. 

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Please note that the module slides are designed to work in collaboration with the module transcript document. It is recommended that you use both resources simultaneously.

Digital Marketing Resources:

Lisa Dunn

PPC Account Manager @ OMD Ireland

  • 6+ years’ experience digital marketing 
  • Expertise in PPC advertising
  • Experience in content strategy development, paid social, and display advertising
  • Work day-to-day across paid search, video advertising, and Google Shopping
  • Clients include telecoms and utilties, local Irish brands, large online retailers, and government agencies

The following pieces of content from the Digital Marketing Institute's Membership Library have been chosen to offer additional material that you might find interesting or insightful. While relevant to this module, you will not be assessed on this content.

You can find more information and content like this on the Digital Marketing Institute's Membership Library


    Display and Video Advertising
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    This module begins with the fundamentals of Display and Video advertising and demonstrates how to set up and manage a YouTube channel. It covers the ad formats available on the Google Display Network and YouTube and shows how to set up and manage Display and Video campaigns. It also explains how to apply audience and contextual targeting, exclusions, remarketing, and bid adjustments to target Display and Video ads at the right audience. The module concludes by identifying the key metrics and tools to use to analyze and optimize the effectiveness of Display and Video campaigns.