This is the first post in a series on the Google AdWords audience tab . In this post, we’ll focus on the topic of how Google defines an “audience” as it pertains to AdWords display campaigns, and some of the strategic ways you can make use of audiences within your display campaigns.
What Constitutes an AdWords Audience?
An audience within AdWords is a means of segmenting or targeting your display campaigns. With audiences you can do either of two options:
- Target all audiences and adjust bids for different audience types
- Target only specific audiences and exclude others (using audiences as a targeting mechanism in the same way you would placements, keywords, or other means of targeting specific visitors or searchers)
What Types of Audience Can We Target?
The actual “audiences” or segmentation options available to you include:
- Specific Category Interests – Such as sports versus games versus comic books. As the AdWords blog  points out: our system looks at the types of pages a user visits, taking into account how recently and frequently those pages have been visited, and then associates their browser with relevant interest categories. Using these categories, you can show ads to the people most likely to purchase your products or services, and you can reach them across all types of sites in the Google Display Network in addition to contextually relevant sites.
- Remarketing Lists - Such as site visitors who have seen a specific page, have seen one page but not another like a landing page but not a thank you page, etc.
- Demographic Targeting - This actually lives outside the audiences tab and lives in the AdWords campaign settings tab, but allows advertisers.
You determine the type of targeting you want to do (target all audiences and manage bids for certain segments such as demographics versus targeting or excluding only specific types of audiences) within your AdWords networks and devices campaign settings  when you designate your campaign as having a broad or specific reach:
In addition to the simple ability to manipulate bids and exclude or narrow to include only certain segments, obviously one of the more interesting and potentially powerful options surrounding these combinations of audience types is how you can mix and match things like remarketing lists, keyword targeting, placement targeting, and interest types to create highly relevant and tightly themed display campaigns.
In the next two posts on the audiences tab, we’ll take a look at how to manipulate and interpret the reporting available through the audiences tab, and finally we’ll focus on specific strategies for creating these custom segmentations to help you get the most out of the many options available to advertisers by creatively combining audiences in specific ways for specific purposes.