How to use new Google Ads Combined Audiences

Combine affinity, in-market, retargeting and other audiences to create personas for Search targeting.

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Google Ads has started rolling out “and” logic to enable advertisers to build layered audiences for Search. With the new combined audiences option, you can create audiences (personas) by layering demographic, in-market, affinity or other audience targeting elements that are available in Google Ads.

How to get started with Combined audiences. To create a Combine audience, click to add a new audience from the Audiences page in the Google Ads UI. Then under Browse, you’ll see the option for “Combined audiences.”

Google Ads Combined Audiences Start
Combined audiences are rolling out in Google Ads.

You’ll then see the audience builder pop-up. In the example below, I quickly created a simple audience of parents with school-aged children who are in-market for water activity equipment and accessories. You can add multiple “Or” audiences as well as exclude audiences, such as current customers, for example. The “And” function here ensures ads are shown only to in-market parents of school-aged children.

You can combine any audience criteria with Combined audiences, such as detailed demographics, life events, remarketing lists.

Google Combined Audiences

Note that combined audiences must have at least 1,000 members for privacy reasons. Google will pause audiences that don’t meet that threshold automatically. Google may show you the audience estimate in the audience creation window, otherwise, you’ll be able to hover over the audience name after you save it to get the estimated size. Google provides the following information for the combined audience above, for example: Impressions (weekly) 100M – 500M. Estimates based on United States, English, All types.

Why we care. Google has obviously been rolling out and advancing audience targeting options for several years now, but the possibilities for creating and testing audience personas in Search with combined audiences takes things to a new level. Now, you can think much more deeply about who you want to reach and how you want to message them. As with other audiences, combined audiences can be set to Target or Observation.

How are they working? Digital marketing consultant Steven Johns was among the first to notice and test combined audiences. He shared early results for one test that showed 6% conversion rate for single in-market audience compared to 20% conversion rate for a combined in-market + demographic + exclusion audience. That’s pretty powerful. Happy persona building.

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About the author

Ginny Marvin
Ginny Marvin was Third Door Media’s former Editor-in-Chief (October 2018 to December 2020), running the day-to-day editorial operations across all publications and overseeing paid media coverage. Ginny Marvin wrote about paid digital advertising and analytics news and trends for Search Engine Land, MarTech and MarTech Today. With more than 15 years of marketing experience, Ginny has held both in-house and agency management positions. She can be found on Twitter as @ginnymarvin.

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