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Why & How To Use Custom Affinity Audiences | (+3 proven strategies)

Every successful ad needs the right audience to thrive. You can create the most engaging and innovative campaign, however it’s less likely to succeed unless you target the right audience.

Google’s solution is targeting your desired audience by allowing advertisers to refine their audience reach based on a number of factors.

One of the multiple ways to target and discover new audiences are affinity and custom affinity audiences in Google Ads which we will talk about in this article.

What are Affinity Audiences

Affinity audiences are not to be confused with custom affinity audiences as affinity audiences are displayed to potential customers with similar interests to your business (whether they searched for or browsed through akin content).

These audiences are directly generated by Google which pre-assigns users into group categories based on their activity – habits, passions and lifestyle. Google then creates an active target audience your ads can reach and profit from.

Let’s imagine you own a car dealership business where you mostly advertise used cars. By implementing affinity audiences to advertise your business, Google will display your ads to (e.g.) students on budget, car enthusiasts, mechanics and so on. Therefore, you will target people already interested in used cars.

Affinity audiences are especially beneficial for increasing brand awareness and for driving new customers in. Hence, don’t expect large numbers of conversions since affinity audiences target impressions more than anything.

Note: If you’re on a tight budget or you own a small company, affinity audiences might not be for you since they’re less likely to drive conversions.

Affinity audiences can be used with any type of ad, however Google recommends using them specifically with video and display campaigns.

How to set up affinity audiences

Now that we’ve talked about what affinity audiences are, let’s set them up.

1. In your Google Ads account, go to ‘Audience Manager’


2. Then Click on ‘Customer Audiences’


3. Create a ‘New Custom Audience’


4. Customize your ad reach based on interests, hobbies and activities


What are Custom Affinity Audiences

Unlike Affinity Audiences, Custom Affinity Audiences are set up by you.

Google doesn’t offer detailed audience targets and therefore the pre-assigned user categories might be too broad or general for your business. Hence, your next available option is to customize your reach with Custom Affinity Audiences.

This type of targeting is mainly used with users who are looking to purchase, therefore at the end of the buyer’s funnel.

Think about it this way: You own a flower shop which sells huge red rose bouquets. With Custom Affinity Audiences and the right target group, you can target people who are already looking for bouquets of red flowers and hence secure a quick conversion.

Note: Custom Affinity Audiences aren’t made for brand awareness or any other promotional activities. They’re rooted in conversions and targeting audiences at the end of the funnel.

Benefits of Custom Affinity Audiences

There are many benefits to Custom Affinity Audiences, although these are the 3 main ones:

  • Tailor your audience to specifically suit your needs
    Get your message across to people who actually want to see your business. Instead of targeting a huge pre-assigned group of users, narrow your reach down to those who really are interested.

  • Allow you to use URLs of your competitors“steal their customers away”
    When you use your competitors URL as one of the triggers for your ads, their customers will be exposed to your ads as well. Afterwards, it’s only up to them which business they’re going for.

  • Get lower into the marketing funnelgain customers who are close to converting

As mentioned before, target audiences who are looking to purchase and there’s a high chance they will.

When to Use Custom Affinity Audiences

Custom Affinity Audiences are truly delightful to work with, but when should you really look into them?

If your goals are:

  • Branding – Setting your business apart from others (competitors) with the right audience.

  • More Controlled Targeting on Google Display Network – You know who you’re targeting and why.

  • Advertise Content Targeted to Specific Users – If you sell oil paint, you don’t want to advertise it to heavy machinery enthusiasts, right? Get the right people for your business.

  • Increase Market Reach – Awareness, more conversions, better impressions.

How to Set Up Custom Affinity Audiences


Make the most out of Custom Affinity Audiences with these 3 Proven Strategies

Although setting up your targets might appear to be quite an easy task, you should also think about how to make the most out of it. Which strategies will work for you to get the best results?

These are our 3 proven strategies that might as well be the perfect strategy for your business.

1. Competitor Targeting

Custom Affinity Audiences have this special perk that can target your competitor’s audience and therefore steal it away!

All you have to do is to bid on your competitor’s search terms and follow Google’s Trademark rules to avoid any illegal misuse of your competitor’s trademark.

However, watch out since Bidding Wars are a real thing and can start literally at any point.

2. User Behavior

As mentioned before, Custom Affinity Audiences are rooted in user behavior for better access to users who are ready to convert.

If a user looks up ‘mittens’ multiple times a day and you happen to sell some (plus you have custom affinity audiences targeted correctly), you’re most likely to pop up on their page multiple times.

They’re also most likely down in the funnel if they are searching for that item multiple times a day.

3. Top Performing Placements

Google Ads offers an option to create a report “Where ads showed” and pick the 10 best performing placements for your ads. Once you have the report finished, you can insert it to your Custom Affinity Audiences to place your ads on the best slots with the best visibility and performance.

That will drive in new and old customers, solidify your brand awareness and image, and quite possibly get you a lot more conversions than before.

To quickly sum it up

Affinity Audiences are made for businesses which want to drive in new customers, spread brand awareness and attract people with similar interests to their products, offers or services.

The categories for Affinity Audiences are pre-assigned by Google and therefore could be quite general to attract the most users possible. This type of targeting focuses mostly on impressions.

Custom Affinity Audiences are made for businesses who want to reach people already down in the buyer’s funnel, ready to convert.

The categories for Custom Affinity Audiences are assigned by you or any other business and are detailed and driven to get a very specific audience for your offers. This type of targeting focuses mostly on conversions.

We sincerely hope that this article was useful and would recommend trying these targeting options out to get the most out of your ads! Good luck!

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About the Author:

Account manager of Bluewinston & CCS Shopping in EU ( I'm the guy responsible for the most effective PPC tool to create product text and Smart Shopping campaigns for Google Search.) Contact me @ [email protected]