Google’s been the big dog of the search game for well over a decade and has AdWords advertisers have primarily focused on managing their search campaigns by balancing their keywords with different keyword match types and negative keywords.
However, as more advertisers begin to look to other networks like Facebook (and its elaborate audience targeting options), Google has had to get more dynamic with its audience solutions. Over the past few years, Google has introduced Remarketing Lists for Search Ads (RLSA), Customer Match, and recently demographic targeting for search to allow advertisers more flexibility on who sees your ads.
And now, Google has released another potentially powerful targeting option – Similar Audiences for Search Campaigns.
Google’s Similar Audiences should share a lot of the same search (and hopefully buying!) behaviors as your core RLSA audiences.
What Is Similar Audiences for Search?
Similar Audiences for Search should feel like Similar Audiences for GDN advertisers or Facebook advertisers’ lookalike audiences. Similar Audiences for Search effectively allows you to find users with similar search behavior as those in your RLSA audiences that haven’t been to your site. This audience is expected to be more qualified than your average new visitor, and it would be advantageous to either increase your bids for this audience or target them separately from your other search campaigns
How Do Similar Audiences for Search Perform?
Early beta tests on Similar Audience for Search reveal its strong potential to change your search campaign performance. Although your RLSA audiences may still outperform your other audiences and campaigns and boast the highest CTRs and conversion rates, Similar Audiences for Search still performs comparably well! We’ve noticed that similar audiences convert at almost the same conversion rate as their core RLSA audiences and more than 50% better than other new visitor audiences! Similar audiences also enjoy a 65% higher CTR than other new visitor audiences.
Where similar audiences really shine, though, is in their reach. Few advertisers still question how powerful RLSA targeting is, but many still lament over the fact that returning visitors make up a relatively small share of their search ad impressions.
We’ve seen that on average, Google’s similar audiences for search ads allow advertisers to scale the successful performance of their RLSA campaigns and reach an audience 7 times larger than their original RLSA audiences.
Best Practices for Using Similar Audiences for Search Campaigns
Use Bid Only Targeting First
New AdWords features are always exciting, and similar audiences will certainly improve your search campaigns, but it’s best to start small at first! Add similar audiences to your existing campaigns as a “Bid only” target with a modest bid adjustment to begin. Over a few weeks, not only will you see your campaigns perform better, but you’ll also collect valuable data to guide your next moves.
If you see similar audiences perform well and attract a large audience, then you may want to create a separate campaign targeting these users with a “Target and Bid” target. If you’re skeptical or want to be overly cautious, this data comes for free by using a “Bid only” target by applying a +0% bid adjustment.
Use Similar to Converting Audiences or other best performer lists
Just like not all remarketing lists are creating equal, neither are their similar audiences. Your large “similar to website visitors” list may offer very attractive reach, but your similar audiences to shopping cart abandoners or past converter lists will likely have better CTR and CVRs. Even if you don’t target previously converted visitors in your remarketing or RLSA campaigns, the similar audiences of these converted lists are your audiences most likely to convert!
Apply to Dynamic Search Ads to quickly reach highly qualified users
We’ve seen amazing performance by applying remarketing lists to dynamic search ad campaigns (RDSAs). These keyword-free campaigns quickly and inexpensively open your website to anyone searching for keywords relevant to your landing pages. Applying a remarketing list or similar audiences to these DSA campaigns can help keep your audience relevant and your performance highly optimized!
RLSA has been changed the game once again and Google’s new similar audience targeting has the potential to dramatically improve your search campaigns and your account’s overall bottom line.
When Can I Get Started?! UPDATE
As of May 1, Similar Audiences for Search is out of beta and available for all advertisers.
The aggregated data in this post is based on a sample of 23 WordStream client accounts with early beta access to Similar Audiences for Search who were advertising on the Google Search Network in March 2017.
About the author:
Mark is a Senior Data Scientist at WordStream with a background in SEM, SEO, and Statistical Modeling. He was named the 14th Most Influential PPC Expert of 2016 by PPC Hero. You can follow him on Twitter, LinkedIn, and Google +.