Cost-Cutting Strategies: Unleashing the Power of Audiences in Google Ads

Audiences in Google Ads

Among paid advertising topics, audiences hold a top spot in my interest list. I’ve long admired their effectiveness in refining campaigns to target the ideal audience.

However, there’s a persistent confusion: Many advertisers prioritize audiences in strategies like display, YouTube, or social media. In contrast, search audiences often receive different attention.

With this post, I aim to change that perception. Below, I’ll outline my preferred methods for harnessing audiences in Google Ads search campaigns to enhance and expand your outcomes

How can you use search audiences?

1. Observation layering

Utilizing audiences in Google Ads starts with observation layering. This approach is the least disruptive to your current paid search tactics. By adding audiences as observation layers, you can segment your data within search campaigns without restricting your overall audience reach.

Audiences in Google Ads-Observation

In all Google Ads search campaigns, you can adjust the audiences you’ve applied by accessing the ‘Audiences’ section in the navigation on the left and clicking on ‘Edit Audience Segments.

Audiences in Google Ads-Audience dashboard

Here you’ll notice that by default, all audiences in Google Ads search campaigns begin in the “observation” mode. (We’ll delve into “targeting” strategies shortly.) According to Google, observation targeting doesn’t restrict the reach of your campaigns; rather, it provides the flexibility to adjust bids for various audience segments.

Audiences in Google Ads-available audience options

The available audience options for search campaigns are the same as for any other campaign within Google Ads. You can opt for in-market or affinity audiences, remarketing, YouTube Engagement, detailed demographics, and more. Just select the audiences in Google Ads you want to include by checking the respective boxes, and they will be applied to your campaign.

Audiences in Google Ads-available audience options1

This is where my specific approach comes into play: I incorporate nearly every available audience as an observation layer in my campaigns.

It’s essential to note that I don’t limit my targeting in any way. So, even if an audience like “financial services” isn’t the ideal fit for my target audience based on our persona documents, I still have the opportunity to evaluate its performance in comparison to all other audience segments in Google Ads.

Audiences in Google Ads-available audience options2

2. Targeting and remarketing lists for search ads

If we’re aiming for more creativity with our audiences, we can transition from the “observation” setting to “targeting.”

Audiences in Google Ads-Targeting

In this mode, we’ll solely focus on the audiences applied to the campaigns, excluding all other users. While this may seem restrictive, and indeed it is, narrowing down the audience opens up opportunities for various strategies within search that might not be feasible without these audience restrictions.

Audiences in Google Ads-audience restrictions

The primary challenge will be ensuring that you meet the audience minimum requirement of 1,000 active users in the last 30 days. If you’re struggling to reach this minimum, you may need to stick with the observation options mentioned earlier until you’re able to generate higher volumes of users.

The benefits of targeting vs. observing search audiences

Let’s delve into the advantages of shifting towards a targeting-focused approach and how it impacts your choices.

Chances to create highly tailored ad copy and keywords.

By narrowing your audience to only those users you want, you can now begin customizing campaigns more specifically based on your knowledge about those individuals.

For instance, if you’re targeting people who have visited your website before, you likely don’t need to spend as much time introducing them to your brand and offerings as you would differentiating yourself from competitors.

facebook ads screenshot

Although the example is from Facebook, customized search ads based on audiences in Google Ads are rare but impactful. By creating tailored messaging, you can stand out from your competition.

Consider how you can leverage this for your potential customers. If they’ve visited your site before and are still searching for services similar to yours, you could use your ad copy to offer a promotion or highlight specific benefits tailored for returning customers.


This customization also extends to your keywords. While your regular search campaigns may focus on your core services, targeting users who have visited your site before allows you to explore new terms that promote your less popular services or offerings reserved for returning customers.

Improved call-to-action strategies for funnel movement

Moreover, the same principle applies to calls to action. I collaborate with several software companies that have relatively long sales cycles. For them, in our prospecting campaigns, we might emphasize video views or content downloads as the call to action. However, for Remarketing Lists in Search Ads, we shift to demo requests or another action further down the funnel, as those users are already familiar with our offerings and may be ready to progress to the next step.

sales funnel

Remarketing lists can be tailored based on users’ actions on your site. Chances are, you’re already creating lists based on these actions for campaign exclusions. Why not recreate the same lists in Google Ads and apply them to search campaigns to encourage the next call to action in the buyer cycle? The only limitation: meeting the minimum audience size for audiences in Google Ads!

Tighter Dynamic Search Ads

In addition to manual keyword expansion, audiences in Google Ads, specifically remarketing lists, serve as an effective method to control the reach of Dynamic Search Ads (DSAs).

Dynamic Search Ads

Dynamic Search Ads operate differently from regular Search campaigns. You provide Google with your website URL or a page feed of your website, and Google dynamically matches search terms relevant to your site content, crafting ad headlines for you.

Utilizing Remarketing Lists allows you to potentially circumvent most restrictions on Dynamic Search Ads themselves, as the audience performs much of the qualifying work for you. Whenever a relevant search is conducted by someone who has previously engaged with your brand, a Dynamic Search Ad will appear with customized headlines and landing pages.

Use more broad match keywords

Expanding beyond Dynamic Search Ads (DSA), another strategic move involves incorporating broad match keywords with remarketing lists. The same principles apply as mentioned earlier, but here, our focus shifts to match types rather than targeting types for increased reach.

keyword match types

Broad match is the most expansive of the available options. While using broad match keywords, you may match to terms outside the typical ranges encountered with the phrase and exact match. However, assuming Google’s machine learning capabilities are as effective as claimed, these terms should still be relevant to your business. Moreover, with remarketing list layers included, you’ll have more opportunities to engage with known users.

In many cases, broad-match keywords might not be suitable for regular prospecting search campaigns. However, when combined with audiences in Google Ads, they serve as a valuable method to discover additional scale.

Don’t ignore search audiences in Google Ads—observe or target, they’re crucial.

Audiences are often associated with display, YouTube, or social advertising strategies, but their utility extends beyond that. Whether it’s observing audience performance for insights or refining your keywords, targeting strategy, messaging, or call to action, audiences can significantly enhance search campaign performance. Explore our solutions for more insights on maximizing your search campaigns with audiences in Google Ads!


If you’re looking to enhance your marketing strategies or need expert assistance with your Google Ads campaigns, our dedicated team is here to help. Book a call now to explore how our agency can support you in achieving your advertising goals.