After the tried and tested success of similar audiences on Display Network campaigns, Google has finally announced that they will be rolling out the feature for Search along with Custom Match for Shopping.
What is similar audiences
The similar audiences feature aims to boost remarketing reach to new customers, not just ones that have visited your site. More importantly, it chooses these new customers based on similarities with current customers from your remarketing lists. For Display campaigns these similarities have included similar interests and behaviour, while Search will look at search history. Based on what recent users in your RLSA lists search for before landing or converting on your site, Google will build another list of new users currently searching for similar terms.
Google provides the following example for similar audiences on the Search Network.
Say that you've created a remarketing list of people who bought running shoes from your sporting goods site. Instead of helping you reach broad groups of people interested in "running", similar audiences will identify that people on this list tended to search for "triathlon training" and "buy lightweight running shoes" before coming to your site and making a purchase. Based on this, similar audiences will then find other people with similar search behaviour, such as people who searched for 'buy lightweight running shoes'.
Google uses the historical search data of users from the past 30 days, which means similar audience lists are automatically and consistently updated as search activity changes. Additionally, Google automatically excludes users that have already visited your site. Of course, advertisers can still reach out those to those that leave without making a purchase with their additional remarketing campaigns.
The benefits of similar audiences
First and foremost, similar audiences offers another way to extend reach. While remarketing is a great way to influence and encourage existing traffic, anyone looking to increase their traffic and reach new visitors will benefit from the new feature.
Additionally, similar audiences leverages the valuable and previously unmined data of remarketing. Remarketing lists of converters have predominantly been used as an exclusion from other remarketing lists; now advertisers can use information from the path to purchase to find other potential customers just like them.
By using historical search behaviour similar audiences can not only win new visitors, but can also ensure these new visitors are even more likely to become customers. Plus, unlike the Display Network, similar audiences for Search campaigns target people specifically while they are searching for the products and services, meaning increased purchase intent from the outset.
Finally, with the use of other remarketing lists, advertisers can still reach out to any new visitors that didn’t make a purchase. Combined with similar audiences, remarketing becomes a much more successful conversion tool.
Using similar audiences
To use this feature Google will automatically identify when any of your remarketing lists qualifies. Qualifying lists will need to have at least 1,000 cookies along with a substantial number of visitors with a certain degree of similarities. This means that even when lists do qualify, similar audience lists can be smaller in size depending on how niche the remarketing list is.
As well as remarketing lists needing a certain degree of user similarity to qualify for similar audiences, a higher level of similarity also helps this feature work better. For Display campaigns, Rebecca Schelfhout of Search Engine Land recommends building smarter remarketing lists with refined targeting. For example, by targeting people who visit certain sections or pages rather than the whole website, or using a combination of goals such as people who visit certain sections followed by a specific interaction. Advertisers using similar audiences for Search campaigns should look to do the same.
While similar audiences has worked well with Display networks campaigns, the added purchase intent that often makes Search campaigns more successful could see this feature drive considerable conversion improvements for these types of campaigns. In examples from early tests some have seen conversions increase by as much as 31%. This includes Fiat Chrysler Automobiles who used similar audiences on Search to drive an 11% increase in click-through rate and 22% more conversions.
As with all paid search, similar audiences works better for certain audiences, markets or businesses over others. Advertisers starting to use this feature for Search campaigns should keep an eye on Google Analytics and compare engagement metrics with other campaigns to monitor performance. Bounce rate can be a good initial indicator of overall targeting success, while interactions aside from final conversions shouldn’t be ignored either. ‘Micro-conversions’ like downloads, newsletter sign-ups and contact page visits can be just as telling of how, not just how well, similar audiences is working for you.
If you have any questions about the similar audiences feature, or want to know how you could be getting even more out of your paid search, contact one of our team today.