What is a custom intent audience? Custom intent audiences target users in the research and decision making phase of their online journey. Think of previous display audiences as brand awareness. You might see an ad for Jamaica tourism and think, maybe someday. Custom intent audiences surface that Jamaica Tourism ad to travelers that have recently been searching for cruises, tropical vacations or honeymoon destinations. The targeting reaches users a little further in the decision and buying process. Using website personalization in tandem with custom intent audiences can help drive conversions and qualified leads for your product or service.
In late 2017, Google Ads (then Google AdWords) announced a new targeting option called custom intent. Sounding just vague enough, I continued running acquisition campaigns in search, Facebook and display via placement targeting (choosing specific interests and websites to advertise on) while bookmarking the new feature as something to test. Finally I got around to exploring the capabilities and understanding fully just what this new audiences entailed and wow is it a powerful feature and a low barrier to entry for online marketers looking to purchase direct.
Step One: Create a new campaign.
Once you have a Google Ads account, the digital ad inventory world is your oyster. Grab your shucker and jump in.
Step Two: Select a goal.
In this case, our goal is to collect B2B leads on a marketing focused landing page. We’ll have goals, events and conversion in place to help track success.
Step Three: Select a platform.
Search: When you hear someone say “paid search” what they’re talking about are the text ads and advertising features that display when users perform a Google or Bing search query.
Display: Ads shown on different websites through different ad platforms. You can buy this ad inventory direct from Google, Bing, Yahoo, YouTube (owned by Google, which is now Alphabet) or through third party inventory through programmatic advertising.
Shopping: E-commerce? Connect your product catalog in Shopify, WooCommerce and others to display products in user searches. Connects with inventory so you’re not showing ads of out-of-stock product.
Video: YouTube. Show video ads in pre-roll form or video search.
For this example, we’ll be selecting “Display.”
According to Google: Using a custom display audience “allows you to define and reach the ideal audience for your business. Built with performance advertisers in mind, custom intent audiences allow you to go beyond pre-defined audience segments and reach people as they’re making a purchase decision.
For Display campaigns, you can use custom intent audiences either by selecting one of the auto-created segments or by defining your own audience — simply enter keywords, URLs and apps related to products and services your ideal customer is researching across sites and apps. For Video ads on YouTube, you can create an audience of users who have searched for certain terms on Google.”
Step Four: Select demographic.
Google will display your ads to potential customers matching your target demographics.
Step Five: Select Custom Intent Audiences.
While selecting an audience, choose “What they are actively researching or planning.” Notice below it states “in-market and custom intent.”
Step Six: Select locations.
Where do we want the ad to show? Potential customers are everywhere, but maybe you want to limit the reach and targeting of your advertising based on location. In the example below, we’ve limited to the Pacific Northwest.
Step Seven: Create Custom Intent Audience.
As with most things, building a custom intent audience yourself will help you better understand how it works. The pages and URLs below detail a custom intent audience for an economic development company looking to find businesses to occupy a business development park. Custom intent is different than placement because unlike placement, we’re not necessarily surfacing display ads on the sites listed below, rather, we are identifying groups of potential decision makers in the research phase for these types of services or opportunities.