Setting Up Custom Affinity Audiences in Google Display Network

google adwords for contractorsThere’s no question the Internet has forever changed the marketing landscape. Not only has it added an additional medium in the form of online advertising, it has allowed us to target specific audiences and maximize advertising effectiveness.

This reduces costs and makes it more likely that people interested in your product will at least have a chance to see your ad (and hopefully buy from you). Google’s ability to give you the option of setting your own targeted audience is a relatively easy process.

Affinity Audiences vs. Custom Affinity Audiences

In traditional advertising, such as television or radio, companies attempted to define their audience by the subject they were watching or listening to. For example, if a women’s clothing company was trying to attract customers, they would purchase commercials that aired during television shows with a higher female demographic, such as soap operas or certain reality shows.

The target demographic (in this case females) is called the “affinity audience,” and it makes it more likely that a person interested in your product will see the ad. The woman’s clothing company would be ill-advised to run a massive advertising campaign during a sporting event, because these are generally viewed by men that have very little interest in women’s clothing; thus, taking into account affinity audiences gave advertisers the “most bang for their buck.”

These are highly subjective, however, and may not reach your target demographic; not only do not all women watch soap operas or reality TV shows, there are also quite a few women that watch sports meaning that these women won’t see your ads.

This is further complicated by the fact that even if you manage to reach a vast amount of women with your ad, they may not be interested in your clothes especially if you make highly specialized clothing such as casual wear or plus sizes. This means that you are essentially wasting money advertising to a huge group of women that will never buy your clothes while at the same time missing out on another group that is not even seeing your ads.

This is where custom affinity audiences come in. Custom affinity audiences allow you to determine exactly who views your ads online using demographic and URL history meaning that you don’t waste time or money advertising to people not interested in your product.

Let’s go back to our example of a woman’s clothing company. Say you sell (or want to highlight) your plus sized collection-specifically casual wear designed for young women. Thus, your custom affinity audience is plus sized women aged 25-35. This is a very specific group of people, however they are most likely to purchase your product.

Setting Up Custom Affinity Audiences in Google Display Network

Google AdWords makes it easy to specifically target specific audiences through the Google Display Network.

  1. Create a “New Ad Group” within an AdWords Display Campaign
  2. Select the + Targeting button located the bottom left of the menu. For reference, it’s just to the left of the display keywords button and directly under the add group and settings It should be pretty easy to find as its red color makes it stand out.
  3. Google will prompt you to name your ad group. Choose something that is representative of the campaign so that you will know where to look if you want to edit it later. Our clothing company would probably name the campaign, “Plus Sized Women’s Clothing.”
  4. Now that we have a campaign name, we can begin to pick interests we want to target. Select the circle next to the Interests & Remarketing category to bring up the target audience screen.
  5. From the target audience screen, select Affinity Audiences from the drop down menu. This will bring up a list of predefined affinity audiences that Google has created. While these are very good at targeting customers, we want to go the extra mile to be sure to get the most out of our ads. Select Custom button located under the slider of Google’s pre-determined categories.
  1. It’s now time to create your audience. Google makes this easy. All you have to do is enter the name of the people you are trying to target (in this case Plus Sized Women between ages 25-35) and create a description to remember the campaign. To keep it simple, use the same description you used in step three. Google may actually fill this in for you, but it may not always work, so be sure to double-check it before proceeding.
  1. Once you have a name, just start typing the information you want to search for in the Sites and Interests It’s generally best to type in keywords first. These are search parameters or terms found on pages that your target audience is likely to view. Choose these carefully; if you pick too many keywords, you risk having so broad an audience that you may waste ad space. Conversely, using too few keywords can result in an ineffective ad campaign because not enough people will see your ads. Some keyword examples for our clothing store would be Sizes 16-24 (which is a range of common plus size clothing sizes), Ages 25-35 (our target demographic), and specific types of clothing you are offering (i.e. shirts, pants, etc). Google will also show you metric correlation between keywords and potential customers for a reference, but don’t limit yourself based on these suggestions; you know your product and who it appeals to. Think outside the box; for example, since our culture glorifies thin women while shaming overweight ones, plus-sized women may be looking to go on a diet, so you may want to add the search terms “diet” or “low-fat” into your keywords.
  1. After you have chosen your keywords, chose URLs you want associated with your product. These don’t have to be exact, as Google’s Affinity Audience program can pull similar URLs too. These are essentially the same as keywords, however they search the actual URL your customer is accessing.
  1. Once you are finished entering your information, you are all set Put the ad campaign into affect like normal and sit back and watch your sales increase!