What is a Google Audience & How are Audiences Determined

Where to Find Them

Before digging into the ‘behind the scenes’ audience stuff, allow me to take a moment to touch on the different types of Google audiences and where you’ll find them.

In order to effectively use audiences, you need to be aware of how to find them. You’ll find all of your audiences in the Audience Manager in your shared library. In there, even if it’s your first time there, you’ll find your audiences (Google automatically creates some basic remarketing lists for you), as well as the type of audience it is.

Furthermore, you’ll be able to see the size of each list based on which network that list is compatible with. As of now, there are four networks Google allows us to use audiences in. Those networks are Search, Display, YouTube, and Gmail. Not every audience list is compatible with each network, so be sure to check which lists are compatible with which network before you start building out your strategy! If you are ready to begin creating an audience, select the plus sign to get started!

What is an Audience

An audience is just one of the many ways Google allows us to better target our potential customers and our target markets. According to Google, “Audiences are groups of people with specific interests, intents, and demographics, as estimated by Google. You can select from a wide range of categories – such as fans of sport and travel, people shopping for cars, or specific people that have visited your site.”

Audiences are truly a powerful and valuable part of any paid search marketer’s arsenal, allowing us to better navigate the massive Search, Display, YouTube, and Gmail markets. You’ll be able to boost your campaign’s performance by reaching specific audiences that are outlined below.

Types of Audiences

Now, I’ll list the types of audiences that exist, as well as a brief description of each. Please note, this is not an exhaustive list, but these are the most commonly used list types.

It’s important to understand that not all audiences are created equal. Some require a lot of work on the front end to put together, like a custom match list. Some require you to have Google Ads remarketing tags placed on your site. Some audiences are not compatible with Search campaigns, while others are. Whichever audiences you have/are planning on creating, be sure to understand the pros and cons of each. Ready to start creating audiences?  Check out this blog on how to create a killer custom affinity audience.

How Does Google Determine Audiences?

Without further ado, I present to you what I believe to be the algorithm which Google uses to determine audiences. Drumroll, please.

y = mx+b

Just kidding, that’s an equation of a line, if my memory serves. My apologies for being such a tease.

All jokes aside, now that we have a foundational understanding of Google’s audiences and the different types there are, I’ll share what I believe Google looks at when building out these audience lists (at least, the lists that we don’t create ourselves). I want to preface this by saying that this is nothing more than speculation on my part, after doing research to satisfy my own curiosity.

I’ll start by stating that Google uses machine learning to analyze what is likely a quadrillion (because a trillion isn’t big enough, probably) different signals and then turns those signals into insights. Those insights could be anything from a user’s purchase intent, user locations, average session duration, past search history, or anything else like that. Honestly, with a quadrillion different signals, this list of potential insights could go on forever. The point is, Google sifts through so much more data than we could ever hope to comprehend on our own, in order to build these audience lists.

I’m not sure about you all but knowing that there’s that many different signals being fed into the audiences makes me feel confident that the people included in those lists are all relevant.


As I mentioned earlier, the algorithm Google uses in order to analyze all of these different signals is a secret, not that I could comprehend the algorithm even if I saw it. So, I’m sorry to say that I cannot give you the algorithm, or anything even close to it, but I do hope that I have at least provided you with a better understanding of Google audiences, how they’re created, and maybe even a new idea or two on how to use them to your advantage. Happy PPC’ing!

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