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Use custom intent audiences to make your Display ads more effective

Back to all resources

Use custom intent audiences to make your Display ads more effective

Key take-aways

Custom intent audiences are a Google Ads feature that allow businesses to control who sees their ads, based on users' previous activity online. In practice, this gives you the chance to reach people who are already searching for the product or service your business offers. Learn more about custom intent audiences and how you can make your Display ads more effective by combining them with specific audiences.

1. What are custom intent audiences for Google Ads?

2. How can custom intent audiences benefit my business?

3. How can I build my own custom intent audiences?

4. How can I make the most of custom intent audiences?

What are conversions?

When a potential customer interacts with your ad (for example, clicks a text ad or views a video ad) and then takes an action that you've defined as valuable to your business, such as making an online purchase or visiting your business.

Discover how to track conversions

Because the people you reach with custom intent audiences are already considering a purchase, they are more likely to buy from you than the general public.

1. What are custom intent audiences for Google Ads?

Custom intent audiences are a type of audience that allow you to choose who sees your ads on the Google Display Network and YouTube. There are two ways to define custom intent audiences: via keywords or via URLs. They can be used in combination too.

Let's say a reptile store in London wants their Display ads to reach people who are actively researching pet snakes. The business owner can enter "pet snake" or "buy snake" as keywords to define their custom intent audience. They can also enter the URL of a popular web page that explains which types of snake make the best pets. Next time potential customers who have searched for these terms or visited this page are online, they'll be eligible to see the reptile store's Display ad.

2. How can custom intent audiences benefit my business?

Custom intent audiences allow you to introduce your business to a very specific group of potential customers just as they're researching the service or product you offer. Because the people you reach are already considering a purchase, they are more likely to buy from you than the general public.

A south London workshop that specialises in spray-painting vintage motorbikes, for example, can distribute their ads to the small segment of the population who are interested in customising these bikes. By using custom intent audiences, the business owner can reach these people just as they are researching the topic, and encourage them to visit the workshop. This way, every penny of the business's ad budget is spent on the potential customers who are most likely to increase sales.

3. How can I build my own custom intent audiences?

There are two methods for creating custom intent audiences. For speed and ease, you can let Google Ads suggest them for you. For control and precision, you can create your own.

Using Google-suggested custom intent audiences

The quickest and most straightforward way to create custom intent audiences is to choose from the options that are automatically suggested by Google. The suggestions are generated by smart technology that predicts the browsing and buying habits of potential customers.

A fishing shop in Devon, for example, might find that Google Ads creates a new custom intent audience called "wading boots", based on the knowledge that people who visit websites selling fishing gear also tend to research wading boots. The suggestion is generated automatically, so it's easy for you to apply this new custom intent audience to your ad campaigns.

Audience suggestions are refreshed continuously, helping your business stay abreast of changes in online consumer behaviour without having to commit time and energy to in-depth research.

Creating your own custom intent audiences

You can also create your own custom intent audiences by entering URLs and keywords that relate to your business. This gives you more control over the way you reach your audience and allows you to think of inputs beyond those suggested by Google. For example, a sports store in Edinburgh that knows a new half-marathon is taking place in six months' time may want to add "Edinburgh half marathon" or "marathon training Edinburgh" as keywords.

When building your own custom intent audiences, it's best to use a total of 15 keywords or URLs for each to make sure they all fit a common theme. This helps the smart technology powering Google Ads to understand and reach your ideal audience effectively.

What are keywords?

Words or phrases describing your product or service that you choose to help determine when and where your ad can appear.

Find out more about relevant keywords

4. How can I make the most of custom intent audiences?

To position your ads for potential customers as carefully as possible, you can create multiple ad groups within a campaign, each with its own custom intent audience. For example, a beauty salon in Cardiff that offers both manicures and sports massages might decide to create one ad group for local people who are researching nail art in the area, and another aimed at those looking for muscle pain relief.

Creating custom intent audiences for both of these groups will help the beauty salon's ads appear to the most relevant potential customers. If the business used both "nail care" and "muscle ache" as inputs for the same custom intent audience instead, it would be harder for Google Ads to identify what the audience segment has in common. Helping Google find this common theme helps your business reach prospective customers who are most likely to buy.

Custom intent audiences allow you to deploy your Display ads for groups of people who have been actively researching a topic related to your business. Since their activity suggests that they’re considering a purchase, it's a great time to nudge them towards your business.

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