I have discussed Remarketing Lists for Search Ads, different approaches to using RLSA, and the advantages associated with them. This article is a step beyond Remarketing. This article is focused on using Similar Audiences for Google Search and Shopping Ads to approach new customers.

Similar Audiences looks at data about your existing remarketing audiences and finds new and qualified consumers who have shared interests with that audience. It’s a powerful – but simple way to reach a much larger audience and drive clicks and conversions among new prospects.

Similar Audiences for Search and Shopping Ads, without a doubt, helps advertisers improve the overall return on their ad spend. Two key advantages of this new feature introduced by Google are –

  1. Improved Audience Targeting – Similar audience targeting is a data-driven approach to targeting new potential customers. Earlier, intuition was the tool at the advertiser’s disposal. These potential customers are based on the remarketing lists for search ads.
  2. Better Click Quality – Because similar audiences use remarketing lists as a cue, hence the associated traffic is going to be of better quality. Advertisers can target those visitors who are very likely to take actions that add value to your business with information and ease.

Note: Audiences in the remarketing lists will not be a part of the similar audiences targeting ensuring that your remarketing audience is not poached by the similar audience.

How do Similar Audiences for Search and Shopping Ads work?

It is quite simple, to be honest. I have explained the process of finding new customers using similar audiences in three steps.

  • AdWords collects data regarding website visitors. AdWords adds these visitors to the remarketing list.
  • Using the remarketing list and the insights from the scrutiny, AdWords records the aggregate search behavior of your visitors.
  • AdWords automatically find new potential customers whose search behavior matches your remarketing list.

Let’s look at the example of Drew from our Remarketing List for Search Ads blog. Drew visited an advertiser’s website listing Studio Apartments. This led to the addition of Drew to the advertiser’s Studio category remarketing list. This list has more visitors who were looking for studio apartments. And a while later, Drew’s fiance, Rachel, also searches for a Studio Apartment. She has a similar search behavior as Drew and others in the remarketing list. As a result, AdWords targeted her at similar audiences.

Note: Google doesn’t consider individual search behavior when identifying similar audiences. Instead, Google uses the aggregated search behavior of the remarketing list as a whole.

How does Google qualify for Similar Audiences?

Google looks at millions of people before qualifying a user into a similar audience. The system automatically identifies the remarketing list that best matches a user’s search behavior. Google considers a variety of factors.

  • The number of visitors on the original list
  • How recently these people joined the original list
  • The similarity of these visitors’ search behavior

Note: Google creates a similar audience list only from a remarketing list with at least 1,000 cookies with enough similarity in search behavior to create a corresponding similar audience.

Google also adjusts your similar audience list as your remarketing list changes. The similar audiences are an advanced approach to building fruitful and profitable advertising campaigns using Google AdWords. Advertisers can also opt out of similar audience recommendations following this link.

At AdNabu, we encourage advertisers to consider using Similar Audiences. However, we call for caution. It is best to go read the privacy policies and limitations for added benefits and better understanding.


CEO and co founder of AdNabu. Exploring the intersection of data and marketing