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google releases new targeting options for search ahead of christmas

Updated: Dec 10, 2019

With the holiday season now upon us, Google recently announced two new targeting strategies to help brands reach their ideal audience: ‘affinity audiences’ for search and ‘seasonal event segments for in-market audiences’. In mid-October, the search engine released a support post stating:


“People turn to Google Search for inspiration, to explore interests and find the things that they care about. To show up and be useful in moments when they need help, it’s important to understand what matters most to them. Over the coming weeks, we're rolling out two new ways to reach your ideal customer on Google Search: affinity audiences and seasonal event segments for in-market audiences.”


These new features combine the benefits of machine learning and display advertising, intensifying the reach of your brand and messaging. With the help of affinity audiences and seasonal event segments for in-market audiences, you’ll be well equipped to get your ads in front of the right people at the right stage of the funnel. So, how do these new targeting options work?

affinity audiences: engage people who are passionate about your brand offering


Affinity audiences are essentially a group of people with a strong interest in a particular topic, service or product. If you’re familiar with display advertising, you’ll already be aware of how advertisers have been using affinity audiences to reach relevant prospects, raise brand awareness and drive engagement for many years. But Google’s recent update allows marketers to apply affinity audiences to search, refining your audience even further and targeting users with a genuine interest in the broader categories that your product or service fall under.

Affinity audiences are essentially about linking keywords to relevant topics. The example below shows the stages of setting up a search campaign for a winter sport retailer. Two different affinity audiences have been added including users who have shown an interest in ‘Travel to Snowbound’ countries such as people who want to practice before they go on holiday and ‘Winter Sports Enthusiasts’, such as people who may want to take up ice hockey. Using this targeting option, brands can encourage people with a strong interest along their buying journey while increasing ad reach too.


in-market audiences: reach the right people at the right time


In-market audiences allow brands to reach consumers in their final stage of the sales funnel when they have the highest purchase intent. Using data and a robust classification system based on learnt in-market behaviour, these segments can help you serve the right offer, at the relevant position in the user journey, to those most interested in your products and services. As a result, you can reach potential customers before they make a purchase with a competitor.


Google’s new seasonal event segments for in-market audiences are ideal for promoting timely promotions throughout the holiday season. These event segments include subcategories of users who are searching in preparation for an upcoming occasion. Using the categories, you can differentiate between consumers who have a general interest in your brand and consumers who are interested in your brand for a specific reason. If you can differentiate these users from one another, your ad messaging and promotions can be made highly relevant to the individual’s objectives.

This new feature is a brilliant insight into how Google’s powerful machine learning algorithms can be put to work. Without needing keyword targeting or targeting based on interaction with your brand, you can access a valuable, relevant audience with high conversion intent.


when should you use these new strategies?


As a rule, affinity audiences are often used for higher-funnel awareness campaigns. By connecting keywords to topics, a broader, yet still engaged, audience can be reached. On the other hand, in-market audiences for seasonal events are aimed at people lower in the funnel who are showing search intent and may be preparing to make a purchase.


With the busy Christmas shopping period comes an increase in competition. It’s likely you’ll be boosting your budgets and targeting a more diverse range of keywords to maintain performance. Using these targeting options, you will essentially open the door to more traffic while maintaining a high quality of traffic - particularly useful during the peak shopping period! If you want to implement these targeting options in your search campaigns, it’s crucial that the correct measures are put in place to ensure you’re reaching the right audience. Make sure you have the support you need for your Christmas search campaign strategy, contact our team of paid media specialists.

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