Buyers, what are you up to? Google Knows! So Do Advertisers.

Several times in 2017, Google announced some major changes to the future way of advertising and a change of focus from keywords to user intentions. It’s been announced that advertisers will be able to target those users who show an intention to buy (or explore) exactly what the advertiser is offering.

I must admit I was skeptical about this, but also curious about how Google intends to get inside of our heads this time.

The big update was finally introduced in November 2017. It’s called Custom Intent Audience. And it answered all my questions.

How does Custom Intent Audience work?

Google uses data from our campaigns, websites, and YouTube channels — or the data we set ourselves (keywords and URLs) — in order to better define our product.

Then, Google determines the target group that is searching for such product or visiting websites that offers it.

Hence, Google offers us a target group that, by its behavior on the Internet, shows interest in the product we’re offering, and intends to buy it.

How does Google create Custom Intent Audience?

There are two ways:

  1. Automatically created audience — using data from our campaigns — primarily keywords from search campaigns as well as data from our site — Google creates groups that are offered as predefined solutions. If you’re just starting out with this type of a campaign, this is the right way to present your product to an interested audience without much risk, as Google has proved to be quite accurate in this segment and you can basically rely on its conclusions.
  2. Custom created audience — we are setting up a list of keywords, phrases and URLs that Google will be using when creating an audience.

At first, this sounds great — why do something automatically, when you can create your very own audience, exactly the way you want it.

However, you should be extremely careful with this method, especially if you are a beginner. Keep in mind, when Google is creating an audience automatically, it has already “learned” to recognize our audience based on its already known parameters. When creating a custom audience, we give Google a completely new combination of parameters from which it “learns”, and we cannot expect the same precision immediately.

Naturally, the precision depends on so many other things as well — how unique our product is, or how well known it is on the market, whether there is already a relevant quantity of searches, whether we are familiar with the behavior of our desired audience, etc.

How to use Custom Intent Audience?

First, create a new Display campaign and an Ad Group. It is all the same up until we have to choose the Audience for the Ad Group:

After we select the Intent, we get to choose from the following:

Therefore we are now choosing between an automatically created audience or creating a new custom intent audience. Choosing the first option will open up a list of possible audiences that Google has created by using our account. If we opt for another option, a new custom audience settings window opens:

Here you enter the name of your new audience (it remains saved and available for other campaigns).

Then you add keywords and URLs. Also, on the left, Google will suggest you the words and phrases that you can insert. You will probably notice that these words are mostly very relevant, so you will not have to think too much. However, if you’re a beginner, it’s better to rely on keywords for which you already have relevant results in your search campaigns.

In my first campaigns (the example is below), I did not set URLs, only keywords, although it is recommended to use their combination. However, if you still haven’t done the research of your competition, you can use only keywords (at first).

What are the results?

As far as I’m concerned, the results were quite unexpected. Since I am usually skeptical of the novelties, pompously announced solutions, I must admit that I haven’t started the testing with great enthusiasm. However, in just a few days I’ve completely changed my mind.

This is a campaign that has a goal of acquiring of new users for business software on the global market with the exception of India, which is excluded from the campaign.

Up until that moment, only search campaigns were active. The cost per user (per conversion) was on average 2.5–3 dollars.

After only a few days of a custom intent campaign, the results were as follows:

One conversion costs $ 0.33 in the campaign itself and even less ($ 0.25) in the experiment (which was only initiated to reduce the cost/conversion by additional adjustments).

Therefore, it cost 10 times less than in the search campaigns (even though I was already satisfied with the initial results).

There is nothing more to add to this but — looks like I have found my new toy. :)

If you have any questions, or if there is anything you do not understand about this topic, write a comment or feel free to contact me.