Table of contents

    Before you start – I encourage you to read the first part of the article if you haven’t already done so. It will make it easier to “digest” the information below, learn the context and what ad targeting is in general.

    Google Ads targeting

    Segments of recipients with similar interests

    Based on our online activity, we are assigned specific interests This could be our hobbies, passions, lifestyles, our habits, etc. We can choose from more than 150 different types interests and subcategories interests
    Actually, all Google advertisers can use segments of audiences with similar interests in search network, ad network, video, discovery or performance max campaigns. However, not all campaign types will have more than 150 choices. Under this link we can find a full list of interests and where we can use them. 


    We can target ads to users because of their “life events.” These are not common events, but something that happens either once in a lifetime (such as retirement) or very rarely (moving, starting a business, buying a house). These are turning points, watershed moments that can involve multiple purchase decisions, which often means greater reach than a segment in the market that corresponds to a single purchase decision.

    So, for example, a person who plans to buy a house may be interested in a mortgage, the purchase of new interior design elements, transportation services and other offers associated with such a major decision and large purchase.


    In this category, we target audiences who are pre-determined to buy some product and/or service and have initially browsed the offers. These recipients are already at the final stage of the purchase path – they know what they want. We just need to convince them that the product we offer is the best choice. 

    We have more than 770 audience segments to choose from in the market. There is a lot to choose from and it’s worth taking advantage of this advertising targeting option.

    They’re not the only ones.

    Custom Segments

    Custom segments are primarily created by ourselves. They are not ready-made, selectable lists, as in the case of “segments on the market” or “life events”. We create them based on keywords, URLs or application names related to our product or service.

    Google Ads will display ads in different places. Depending on which campaign we use custom segments in. We can use them in ad network, Discovery campaigns, video and Performance Max

    It used to be possible to create custom segments with similar intentions or interests. Nowadays, we don’t have that choice: based on campaign goals and keywords, the algorithm will automatically interpret all signals and optimize its actions. If we have previously created lists targeting custom segments with similar intent or similar interests, we don’t need to rework them. They will automatically transform into custom segments.

    Custom segments automatically select the audiences that best fit the needs of the campaign. Based on the campaign’s rate-setting strategy and goals, the system will interpret all these signals and select audiences whose characteristics will contribute to one of these goals:

    The system will also select audiences whose characteristics will contribute to one of these goals.

    • Range
    • Consideration of purchase
    • Effectiveness

    How do we create custom segments?

    We create custom segments based on: keywords related to users’ interests or purchase intent; keywords that users have previously searched for on Google (only for campaigns running on Google services); website addresses (URLs) that users have browsed; applications they have used.

    Creating the groups themselves is very simple. We type in keywords, URLs or search for apps in the Google Play store. Here we do not have any specific maximum or minimum number of values that we add.

    The bar on the right will show us estimated segment statistics based on the data we entered. We will get information about average weekly reach, audience gender, age, and parental status. Keep in mind that these are just estimates, often when we add custom segments to the campaign, depending on our settings, the results can differ significantly from the estimates given here. For more precise estimates, we can add the country the campaign will be targeting, the language and the type of campaign.

    Non-standard-segments-receivers-with-similar-intentions: category created automatically (ad network campaigns)

    As the name suggests, audience groups are created automatically. We can use such segments to target ads to a specific industry or landing page. Unfortunately, they are only available for languages such as English, French, Spanish, Japanese, German, Portuguese, Russian and Italian.

    Your-data-segments (formerly known as remarketing)

    Remarketing is created by audiences who have previously interacted with our ad/site/app or who have previously shared their data with us and we can get back to them. Google Ads automatically creates groups of similar audiences of already created remarketing groups. In Similar Audience groups, the original segment is automatically excluded, so we will not hit the same audience twice. Note! From May 1, 2023, the Similar Audience feature will be phased out as a targeting feature.

    Remarketing is quite a complex topic, so there will be a new separate article on it soon 😊

    Targeting or Watching?

    When selecting specific audiences  in our campaign, we also have the choice of whether our ads should be “targeted” to them or whether we choose the “observation” option.
    What do these two options actually mean?

    Information about the “Targeting”


    When we select the “Targeting” option, we indicate exactly to Google Ads which users or websites we want to display ads.

    When to use it

    Let’s use the “targeting” option when we have specified audience groups and places where our ads are to be displayed. It is important to remember that this method limits the reach of the campaign precisely by specifying where and to whom our ad will be displayed.

    Information about the “Watching”


    Using the “Observation” setting does not limit our campaign reach or ad group. It does not change the audiences or display locations of the ads. With this option, we can monitor the effectiveness of our ads, referring to the audience groups or destinations we choose.

    Then, based on the collected data, we can take further actions in the campaign, such as changing the rate adjustment for one particular group. We can also create new ad groups with targeting criteria set based on observations.

    When to use it

    Use the “Observation” setting if you don’t want to narrow down targeting in a campaign or ad group, but you want to monitor the effectiveness of selected criteria when displaying ads.

    Widen viewer-reach

    “Widen Audience Reach” is an option we can choose when we add audiences to our campaign/ad group. It allows us to reach more people similar to our current audience segment. Campaigns with audience reach expansion can bring an increase in impressions, views, clicks and conversions, but it can also increase costs.

    Reports about expanding reach among audiences

    Reports about the expansion of reach among recipients can be found in the Google Ads dashboard under the “Recipients” tab of a given ad group. You need to scroll down the “Recipients” page to the very bottom of the effectiveness table until you see the row “Total: reach expansion and optimized targeting”.

    Use limit-views-per-user – Frequency

    Frequency is otherwise known as the maximum limit of ad impressions per user that we can set. We can use it in ad network campaigns and video campaigns.

    The limit of impressions per user works differently depending on the type of campaign.

    Campaigns on google ads network

    Setting the frequency is not mandatory. We can choose the number of ad impressions in the context of a day, week or month. You can rewrite this value to individual ads, ad groups or campaigns. In ad network campaigns, only displays that were visible are included in the limit of impressions per user. Visible displays are those in which the user has seen the ad on the screen for at least 50% of no less than 1 second in the case of display ads.

    The limit of impressions per user in a campaign in an ad network can only be determined after the campaign has been created.

    video campaigns

    In video campaigns, we can only set the frequency per user at the campaign level.

    We can set the frequency here referring to both impressions and views in the same timeframes as for display campaigns.

    If a video from a given campaign is used in another video campaign, the views and viewings from that campaign count toward the per-user limit for that campaign.

    When a user reaches the view limit, Google will stop showing them ads. This only applies to the type of In-Stream and bumper advertising on the auction.


    For the record, let me say that selecting the right audience is one of the most important steps in creating and later optimizing a campaign. This is our foundation of basics.

    As you can see, we have a great many options to choose from. We can narrow our reach, expand it, test it depending on the advertising creative and other values. Again, I encourage you to experiment with different options and to optimize later based on the lessons we learn. And if you don’t know where to start and how to get started at all – then get in touch with us, we will be most happy to help you find your way through this maze of targeting and select the best-performing audience 😊

    Let's talk!

    Aneta Siemieniak
    Aneta Siemieniak

    He has been involved in SEM for more than two years, constantly developing his knowledge and deepening his skills. She owes her very rapid growth to her independence and courage in managing client projects in the field of social media and search engine advertising. She has worked with brands such as E.ON and Vectra.