When running display ads, one of the most important paths to success is proper audience targeting. You can have the best banners, tag lines, and page position but still fail if you’re making bad targeting decisions. Audience targeting has undergone numerous overhauls in the search, display, and mobile spaces, and we now have a new AdWords-based option to add to the display mix: Custom Affinity Audiences.
I spend a lot of time posting about new online advertising features, and those features give a glimpse into where the marketplace is going. Google, Bing, Twitter, Facebook, and any other platform know the keys to success:
- Right people
- Right place
- Right ad
- Right time
Custom Affinity Audiences are a new, more granular audience targeting option that will allow you to hit the right people in the right places. That should give you more time to focus on creative development and scheduling.
What’s a Custom Affinity?
In the context of AdWords, an “affinity audience” is a broad pool of potential visitors with a common interest. If you’re running ads for a gym, you might want to target “Health & Fitness Buffs.” Running a camera store? “Shutterbugs” can help you hone in on the right audience. The problems start when you realize how broad these affinities really are. Your gym, for example, would have to compete against supplement retailers and fitness equipment stores when targeting “Health & Fitness Buffs”. By narrowing down the audience to people who are specifically interested in working out at a gym, you’ll likely see a better return on your ad spend.
This is where custom affinity audiences come in. Instead of choosing from Google’s pre-set list of 89 affinity audiences, you can create your own with a combination of free form keywords and URLs. Google will use these lists to build a set of targeted interests and demographics for your campaigns.
This option will be rolling out for advertisers over the next several weeks. If you run display advertising, I highly recommend creating some custom audiences to make sure you’re targeting the right people in the right place.