Google’s Custom Intent Audiences: What They Are & How To Use Them

In November, Google rolled out some new features, and the one I’ve been most excited to test is Custom Intent audiences for the Google Display Network.

I have been a proponent of the GDN for a long time. While I understand its shortcomings, I have run successful GDN campaigns for multiple clients over the years, and I love the direction Google has been going with audience targeting capabilities.

What are Custom Intent Audiences?

Google uses a combination of data from your campaigns, website and YouTube channel to help you focus in on targeting users specifically looking to purchase products you offer. Sound familiar? This capability already exists to a degree with In-market Audiences:

The primary difference between In-market and Custom Intent audiences is control: with In-market audiences, you have to choose from pre-defined categories, but with Custom Intent audiences you’re able to break beyond those categories to create more highly targeted audiences.

Where are Custom Intent Audiences in the New UI?

Once you click through a Display targeted campaign, choose ‘Audiences’ from the lefthand navigation panel, then choose the ‘Targeting’ radio button. You’ll see ‘Intent’ as the second option on the list:

Once you choose ‘Intent’ you have two custom intent options: auto-created Custom Intent and Custom Intent.

So, you can let Google do the work for you with the auto-created options or you can assemble your own audiences through the second option.

How are the Auto Options Created?

Google uses ‘machine learning technology to analyze your existing campaigns and auto-create custom intent audiences. These audiences are based on the most common keywords and URLs found in content that people browse while researching a given product or service.’

If you’d like to dig further into what Google used to generate specific suggestions, simply hover over the auto-created audiences to see which keywords from your account Google used to create each audience.

How Do You Create Your Own Custom Intent Audiences?

If you perused the auto-created options and nothing stands out, you can opt to create your own audience. Simply choose the blue + button at the bottom of the list:

From there, you’ll need to name your new audience. Then, you can either enter your own keywords and URLs or choose from the options that will populate on the righthand side:

After you put in your targeting criteria, Google will show you reach estimates for your new audience:

Custom Intent Audiences: A Viable Targeting Option

Google still has improvements to make to help further improve Display targeting precision, but if you have tried other GDN campaign types like Topics or Smart campaigns and have found them to be too broad, Custom Intent audiences could be a great way to refine your Display targeting and even drive some more qualified leads. Considering the audiences are custom-created based on your campaigns, website and YouTube channel, and the flexibility of creating your own audiences instead of choosing from pre-defined lists, this targeting option is at least worth a test.

Ultimately, I appreciate Google’s efforts to help us target users with more granularity on the Display network, and I look forward to even better targeting options in the future. With Facebook, CPCs continuing to increase and big changes coming to the newsfeed it will be increasingly imperative for advertisers to find and utilize other targeted, effective ways to engage users who are closer to the top of the funnel.

Have you tried out Google’s Custom Intent Audiences? What do you think? Do you have any tips or tricks to share? We’d love to hear from you in the comments!