SMX Advanced Recap: Layer Up! Audiences You Should Add To Your Search Campaigns [Clix Speakers Series]

On June 15, I had the privilege of presenting my session for a virtual audience during SMX Advanced. In this session, I talked about how to approach audience targeting for search campaigns.

I started my session off by talking about the importance of audiences. As we continue to cede control over bidding, match types, and close variants, we need to pay attention to more than just keywords. Audiences provide a perfect additional layer of data and another “lever” to pull for optimization.

Observation vs. Targeting

One crucial piece of working with audiences is to properly understand the nuances between Targeting and Observation settings. If you’re unfamiliar with these options, campaigns or ad groups set to “Targeting” will strictly target the audiences you’ve selected. However, switching to an “Observation” setting will allow you to see data for all the audiences you’ve selected, as well as apply bid adjustments, but ads could still show to other audiences.

Observation audiences can be helpful in particular for zeroing in on audiences that are likely to perform when they may not be large enough to justify segmenting into separate campaigns. You can also use Observation audiences for testing unproven audiences and gathering data before putting spend strictly toward those people.


Next, the Targeting setting for audiences can be particularly useful when it makes sense to segment out ad copy specifically for these people. For instance, you may want to show a discount in an RLSA campaign to get current free users to upgrade.

Future-Proofing Audiences

A major theme throughout multiple speakers’ sessions at SMX Advanced entailed discussion of a move toward a cookieless future for tracking. With proposed changes to audience profiling, such as FLoC, in the works, search marketers will have to rethink how they approach audience targeting. While it now sounds like Google is postponing the rollout of cookie-free tracking, marketers should still keep an eye on the discussions and be ready for changes to come. I offered a few general suggestions to prep for the future.

Avoiding Common Mistakes

As I wrapped up my presentation, I reminded viewers of a few potential mistakes to stay aware of when dealing with audience targeting. Items such as exclusions for current customers are easy to forget but can be highly beneficial for reducing wasted spend.

As always, I’m grateful to the SMX event team for allowing me the opportunity to speak alongside so many amazing industry peers! Like so many of us, I’ll be looking forward to the return of in-person conferences in time, but in the meantime, I’m appreciative of those who have made the effort to put together virtual experiences that are worth marketers’ time.