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Coming soon to a campaign near you: Similar Audiences for Search


Paid Search / June 17, 2016

Adwords gets ready to roll out Similar Audiences retargeting to search campaigns

We’ve had Similar Audiences on the Google Display Network for a while. Very soon, Adwords will be rolling out its search-flavoured equivalent. Get the lowdown, and start thinking about how you’re going to manage Similar Audiences for Search in your campaigns.

In its recent Google Performance Summit keynote, Google presented a pretty exciting suite of future upgrades and new features for AdWords and the Display Network. While there is no public timeline for releasing these features, we’re getting pretty excited about the extension of Similar Audiences to our search advertising campaigns.

In the fourth in our series on new features coming to Google AdWords, we’re unpacking Similar Audiences for Search: what it is, and how you can begin preparing.

You may already be familiar with Similar Audiences in the Google Display Network. With display, Adwords finds potential new customers by retargeting your ads to people whose interests and characteristics are similar to those of people who are on your remarketing lists.  

Introducing search-flavoured Similar Audiences

When rolled out to search, Adwords will retarget ads to brand new visitors who are searching on similar keywords to the ones you are bidding on. In other words, these visitors have the same queries and interests as your customers, but they may not be familiar with your brand or product.

Google is developing this feature because advertisers asked them to extend Similar Audiences to search advertising. Adwords rose to the occasion, and began testing Similar Audience for Search with some key advertisers. The results are encouraging.

Brad Bender, Google’s VP of Display and Video Ads, shared this case study in the Google Performance Summit keynote:

“Fiat Chrysler automobiles found that most of their new site visitors were… not converting as well as their returning visitors. With similar audiences for search, they focused on new site visitors who shared the same characteristics as visitors in their remarketing lists. By bidding more aggressively for this segment, the brand increased clickthrough rates by five percent, and decreased CPA by 14%.”

Don’t let it take you by surprise: make a plan

What we learned from this example: be prepared to devise and apply strategy that goes beyond simply implementing this feature. Take time to understand how new versus returning visitors convert on your site. How long is your purchase cycle, and where does Similar Audiences fit in this cycle? Start planning how you will adjust your bidding and content strategy in advance of rolling out your first Similar Audiences test.

We’re advocating for a proactive approach: start planning your campaign adjustments now. As each new feature rolls out, be prepared to test, optimize and follow a steeper than usual learning curve. Don’t assume that your strategy is one size fits all; every product, every market and campaign may respond differently. These new features will keep us all busy in the coming months. Let’s all share what we learn.

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