Custom affinity audience targeting on the Google Display Network (GDN) was released way back in October 2014, shortly after the rollout of affinity audience targeting. Facebook, Google and Amazon have been successfully using affinity audience targeting for some time with great success. Think of normal affinity audience targeting as very broad, television-style targeting. It’s the GDN equivalent of casting a large net in the middle of the ocean.

For example, if Joe visits various fashion websites, searches for fashion accessories and watches fashion videos, he’d likely be put in a “Fashionistas” affinity audience by Google. Affinity audiences (and there are many) are largely intended to help big brands get more reach, engagement, and brand lift for their video ads. That’s great for “getting your brand out there” and reaching someone like Joe, but not for marketers focused on ROI.  

Here’s where custom affinity audiences become important. A custom affinity audience is an audience group that you specify within AdWords.  You can tell Google to tailor an audience for your business, based on your customers’ most recent searches and web behavior.

Instead of casting a net in to the middle of the ocean, we’re now able to focus on a river or a stream. We can more clearly define the size of our audience and have a much greater chance of catching a customer with the same size net (budget).  To use the fashion example from earlier, if you want to reach specific types of clothing designers, not just Joe who likes fashion, a custom affinity audience can help you do that.  They allow you to use the URL of a specific website to define that audience, instead of the very broad affinity audience google defines as “fashionistas”.

Reasons to use Custom Affinity Audience Targeting:

  • Building your brand
  • Controlled targeting on GDN
  • Real-time content tailored to specific users
  • Promoting niche products & services seeking a specific audience

Here at Digital Reach, we have successfully used custom affinity targeting to increase brand awareness by targeting competitor website URLs. In highly competitive sectors, we have found this simple strategy to yield measurable benefits with solid ROI. In our experience, focusing on a competitor’s URL is never too narrow an approach. Every business is different, so it’s important to truly customize your parameters and control how broad (or narrow) your audience is. The GDN is enormous, but successful custom affinity targeting is easily scalable, depending on your growth needs.

Google’s best practices for choosing the URLs to target:

Best practices for selecting target URLs in Google AdWords' custom affinity audience targeting

Combining URL’s and interests (keywords) has also shown promise with clients who have a core product/service but the data is unclear if that should be the norm.  

Custom affinity audiences are not a starting point for building an online presence, nor are they necessarily for everyone. Having a clear goal is key to designing this kind of targeting.  The ad you show someone visiting a competitor should be different than the one you show someone searching your brand. With that in mind, custom affinity targeting has plenty of upside.

Need more insight into custom affinity audiences?

Here at Digital Reach Agency, we’re always happy to help build out custom affinity audiences for your brand, product, or service. Reach out with a comment if you have any questions! We’d be glad to help you target your ideal customer.

Arrow Left Back To Blog Home

Start a Discussion