In late 2017, Google AdWords added additional features aimed at helping advertisers make the most of their budgets. They added a few new features, like promotion extensions and ad variations – which we’ll talk about in future posts – but this post focuses on what we think is the most valuable new feature – the custom intent audience on the Google Display Network.

Adwords In Scrabble Tiles

What is a Custom Intent Audience?

A custom intent audience is the chance for you, as an advertiser, to use the Google Display Network to find people who want to buy the specific products you have to offer, based on data from your campaigns, website, and YouTube channel.

You can create your own – or you can use an automatically created audience.

Creating your own means combining topics and URLs together to create new prospects who are likely interested in what you have to offer.

If you don’t have any idea where to start on creating a custom audience yourself, you can let Google create one for you. These are created with machine-learning to figure out what traits your prospects have, and then build audiences exclusive to your account.

When you use this feature, you can fill your funnel with relatively warm prospects.

Why Use Custom Intent Audiences?

Regardless of your skill level with AdWords, the custom intent audience feature now allows you to go outside the predefined audience categories. With information specific to your business, you can introduce new prospects to your business – prospects that you know should be at least somewhat interested in what you have to offer. When you know you have increased chances of conversion, you’ll get a higher ROI on your paid search.

If you’ve been using AdWords to funnel prospects into your business for years, custom audiences will give you a broad audience definition. If you’re just getting started, Google will do it for you.

PPC is expensive – and there’s a lot of competition out there for nearly every single ad-bearing search engine results page. Because of that stiff competition, many advertisers are moving larger portions of their budgets away from AdWords to Facebook Ads. Audience definition, rather than searcher intent, is the main focus of that platform – and it tends to do well for many advertisers.

Before now, outside of using re-marketing, the Google Display Network didn’t have the targeting options to keep ad spend with Google properties. The custom intent audiences, as well as life-event targeting, are designed to help Google win back some of the market share for top of the funnel advertising campaigns.

How to Get Started

Start by looking at a Display campaign, and then go to the Audiences page. From here, you’ll need to either create a new ad group or campaign, or assign an existing one. Then, choose “Target” and choose “Intent”.

At this point, you can choose to create the auto-generated custom intent audiences, which Google will generate from a combination of machine learning and your existing account data, or to create your own audience.

Create your own audience by clicking, “Intent” and then the “+” sign next to “New Custom Intent Audience”.

Name your audience. Enter a set of URLs and keywords relate to the theme you want to use to target prospects on the Google Display Network. Once you’ve added everything, click “Create” and you’ll go back to the previous screen.

Here, you’ll be able to see the estimated reach for your new audience.

When Google does this for you, you’ll get a bunch of potential audiences, each one labeled with a single phrase. You can click it and hover over it to learn more details about the audience. You’ll find out the associated keywords from your account, the keywords and URLs evident in the related content, and what it’s based on. They are tightly based on relevance, which is what you’re going for.