In-Market Audiences and Keywords Targeting

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One of the under promoted updates hit Google search over the past month or two. Even though Search Engine Land covered this in 2017, this came in without much fanfare, however the impact is actually quite huge. Google released a treasure trove of user data we can leverage, in addition to our keyword targeted search ads. The benefit of this is significantly higher click through rates, higher conversion rates, and potentially lower CPCs.

Let me explain, first covering what are audiences for Google search ads, why they are important, what this update does, and how you can take advantage.

Audiences for Google Search

Google search as always performed pretty well for advertisers. I blogged about this many times over, but it’s because you’re reaching users based on intent. Advertisers can reach users in the EXACT moment of need for the products and services they’re offering. Cool right?!

However, this got even better when years ago, Google allowed advertisers to add in additional targeting to an already targeted form of advertising. This came in the form of remarketing lists. This means that we could further hone in our targeting by not only reaching users who search for your keywords, but also hone in our targeting if they have previously been to our site or not.

Audiences for Google Search – Why is it Important

What we all experienced is users who have previously been to an advertisers site are SIGNIFICANTLY more likely to convert, when shown a search ad. Why is that? Simple, they already have a relationship with your business. Think in your own experiences, you conduct business with people, companies, etc. you have relationships with. With targeting based on site visitation, advertisers can make sure they rank in top position for users who previously visited their site and are searching for their products and keywords.

Side note, if you’re not doing this now, you should tackle this tomorrow.  If you need help, just ping me.

The downfall of leveraging site remarketing audiences to complement your keyword targeting is you’re limited by the number of users that visit your site. It’s impactful, don’t get me wrong, but you’re totally limited by who visits your site.  Which leads me to my next topic.

In-Market Audiences – What does this Do?

Now that we talked about the value of audience targeting in addition to keyword targeting, I’ll now share the fun stuff. With this update, Google is allowing advertisers to use THEIR (Google’s) audience data for your search campaigns. Which means, you’re not limited to the remarketing lists on your site.

Google has a ton of data, think about it. They have 7 properties with over 1 Billion (with a B!), users..think Google Search, Maps, YouTube, Play, ..etc.  For all signed in users, they have data of what you like, dislike, what products and services you’re into, etc.

Based on users online behavior, Google created “in-market audiences”, which buckets users who are in-market for specific products and services. For example, if you’re a mother with a baby who has colic and have conducted a lot of online research for “best bottle”, “best bottle for colic”, etc. Google will bucket you into the in-market audience for baby bottles.

Same story goes for hundreds of different in-market audience segments, ranging from cars, to health to shopping apparel.

In-Market Audiences – How Can you take Advantage

This is the simple part, you can simply add in Google’s in-market audiences to the Google search campaigns. This means that you’ll still only serve ads to users searching for the keywords you’re bidding on, but you may further refine it to just include users who are in market for certain categories.

To take advantage, see the steps below.

Step 1:

Within a selected search campaign, click “audiences” on the left hand panel.

From here you can either select observation or targeting. Let me break this down for you. Targeting means that in order to serve a Google Search Ad the user has to be in the in-market audience bucket and search for the keywords you’re targeting. This is limiting, but could be a wise play once you have performance data of how in-market audiences work.

The next option is observation. This is my recommendation. What this means is that you will just unlock reporting capabilities for this audience, but can serve to people if they are in this audience or not, just as long as they searched your keywords.

I recommend going this route, to first get the data, and if the data looks good, change this to a targeting strategy (potentially). Or create a separate campaign just targeting the in-market audience, plus the keywords in your search campaign.

Audience Targeting for Search

Step 2:

In-Market Audiences

From here you can dive deeper into the in-market audiences. For example, under apparel there are multiple different sub categories, which you should select the ones that make the most sense for your business. 

Step 3:

Next, once you’ve been running for awhile. Click into a given campaign that’s live, click the “audience” category on the left hand panel, and you’ll be able to see the performance breakdown by audience list, and compare it to users who are not in an audience list.

No joke, but you’ll see massive performance gains. I’ve seen CTR easily double (sometimes increase upwards of 3X+), and conversion rate take a nice hike as well.

In-Market Audiences – Next Steps

From this point, I would look at every search campaign that you have and start adding in-market audiences. Find ways that all campaigns can take advantage of this. If you’re an agency or an advertiser with multiple accounts, scale this as much as possible.  This just came out of beta and anyone who is an early adopter will benefit the most, before these audience segments become mainstream and CPCs start to increase to correspond with the increase in performance they drive.

Google Audiences, my Take on the Future

I’ve been a firm believer of audience based targeting, in conjunction to keyword targets for a long time now. This is just based on performance data that I see.   This trend isn’t going to stop, it’s going to continue. In my opinion, Google will open up search to even more audiences you can already target via Display banner ads and video advertising (i.e. affinity audiences).

Eventually, I believe they will open up Custom Intent audiences, which are audiences an advertiser creates, and Google will match the audiences based on the custom keywords, sites, etc. uploaded within an audience profile.

This will continue to be the case for a few reasons.

  1. It performs. Performance drives more investment, which Google will obviously benefit.
  2. It drives up CPCs. It does, unfortunately. Advertisers are willing to pay more per click, if they can find audiences that are in-market for specific products and services, and their performance continues to improve. Within higher CPCs, Google wins. However, in their defense, it’s the advertiser that ultimately wins as Google is opening up massive targeting capabilities.

In conclusion, in-market audiences is an awesome capability that all advertisers should take advantage of sooner than later. I prefer sooner, before CPCs start to spike once this becomes mainstream. However, since this just came out of beta, with relatively little fanfare, I think all advertisers testing this in the near future will have a long runway of benefiting before costs start to increase.

That wraps this post up. I hope all of you found this post helpful and will take a few actions from up.  If anyone has any questions or wants to share their experiences, please do so! I would love to hear from you :).

Helpful Google Ads Resources

For more helpful resources, check out the blog posts and articles below.

Google Ads Support

Google Ads Management

Google Ads How to Guides

Google Ads Optimization Tips

Google Ad Formats

Ben Lund

Ben Lund

Ben Lund is a 14+ year digital advertising vet who founded Rise Marketing Group. Outside of managing his agency, he offers advertising courses on SkillShare and routinely shares his best practices on

Ben Lund

Ben Lund

Ben Lund is a 14+ year digital advertising vet who founded Rise Marketing Group. Outside of managing his agency, he offers advertising courses on SkillShare and routinely shares his best practices on

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Need More Advertising Help?

While I am sharing a good amount of free information through DIY Digital Strategy, if you need more help, feel free to drop me a line on my contact page, as my agency Rise Marketing Group helps clients of all sizes.
Even if you’re not interested in full service advertising management, I would love to hear from you! Ping me a line at and I’ll be sure to follow-up to see how I can help.