Audience Management and Leveraging your Data in Google Ads

2022-11-29 | Article | Insights

Google Search offers customers the ability to find the products, places, images, and many other options being looked for through search results paid and organic. For businesses, Google search offers through the capabilities of Google ads the ability to enhance not only being found on google search but being present with much more than just simple text ads.

For those new or in need of a refresher to Google Ads, as a quick recap, there is the possibility to run the following goals and campaign types:

To reach campaign objectives the collection and utilization of data from various sources available through businesses own data, data from google ads directly and linkable tools (e.g. Google Analytics 4, etc.) make all the difference. In this insights article, we introduce the various data sources available through Google Ads today that can be leveraged to meet the ever growing marketing needs.

Understanding the data first

Before jumping into Google Ads capabilities, let’s take a step back and ask, “Do we have a clear data strategy of what data should be collected and measured.” It all starts with defining what data is important to understand our users behavior and implementing ways to track that data across websites and/ or apps available. Tracking can be done through Google Ads conversion trackers and/ or Google Analytics event tracking. To understand the implications of using one or the other or both, visit this article here. But what data exactly should be collected? In general, the most common data points that serve as a good starting foundation is the following:

  • first_visit
  • page_view
  • scroll
  • view_item
  • select_item
  • user_id
  • sign_up
  • login
  • add_to_cart
  • add_to_wishlist
  • begin_checkout
  • purchase

Once this information is collected, the next recommended step involves centralizing the data in one place, most commonly within Google Analytics, as it collects various data points beyond the behavior data such as technographic (e.g. device type, browse, etc.) and traffic source information, which can all be used to enhance 1st party data. It also has data driven attribution capabilities that helps give credit to the touch points across various marketing channels and campaigns that are making a difference. These analysis features within google analytics help measure the impact to the bottom line or the objectives per campaign.

That being said, it's important to highlight the changes coming to Google Analytics such as the coming of Google Analytics 4 (GA4). GA4 is the new definition for the future of measurement for google. GA4 will usher in new measurement methods, especially the ability to collect website and app data with different streams to better understand the customer journey in an easy way with a focus on data privacy settings. This will have a significant impact on how data is collected and what data will be available in the future. So finally, what data can be managed and leveraged all Google ads?

Audience management in Google Ads

With the understanding of what data is being collected and its importance to specific marketing strategies, data from Google Ads and/ or GA4 can be organized and structured for targeting purposes in the form of “Audiences”. These audiences can be created and managed through the Audience Manager in the “tools and settings” section.

Within the audience module section, there is access to the following type of audiences segments:

Let’s briefly walk through the different types:

Custom segments are unique since it provides the ability to creates audiences based on interests and products/ services they have searced for and the types of websites people browse or the types of apps people use. Based on the combination of inputs, google ads will provide an estimated size of the custom audience. The template of the custom segments looks like this:

The Google Audiences are free audiences that are premade and anyone has access to. As they are focused on specific purposes and areas, applying them is straightforward and should align with the goal of the campaign and business.

Next up, we have “Your data”, which is now the new term being used and replacing the term known as “remarketing” within the Audience module. The meaning however is still the same, since it's based on retargeting users who somehow interacted with the business. When wanting to find similar audience to “your data", google has had the option to enable “similar audiences, however, Starting May 1, 2023, Google Ads will no longer generate similar audiences (also referred to as “similar segments”) for targeting and reporting. Instead you will have two new options:

The audience expansion capabilities and optimized targeting are compatible with certain campaigns and goals. For more information on the compatibility and how to apply and prepare for these changes, please refer to this google help article: How to prepare for changes.

Finally, google ads allows the combination of segments in various ways using the combine segments feature seen here:

There are numerous combinations that can be made based on the goal that is trying to be reached. For example, creating a combined segment of people who are:
  • Entering interests like " athlete," or " distance runner".
  • Using URLs of websites with content about running, training schedules, marathon nutrition, and other marathon themes.
  • Entering apps in the Health & Fitness category that an Avid Marathon Runner may likely be interested in like Google Fit.

Important is that the users are relevant to the campaign and goals of the campaign.


In conclusion, data available through Google Ads in the form of audiences and managed through the audience manager help leverage “your data" and that of google with ease to meet the marketing business goals. As the industry adopts new cookie-less standards leveraging google ads data will be critical to the future success of Google Ads campaigns. We see the effects of this on similar audiences being phased out but with alternatives being introduced such as audience expansion and optimized targeting.

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