Using Google Analytics Audience Interest for Google Ads

If you’ve ever had to run Google Ads (or even Facebook Ads), you know just how granular your targeting can be. It’s an incredibly powerful way to do marketing, but you need to know how to properly research your client’s target audience. If you don’t have the data to back up your assumptions, then you’re just guessing. What if you didn’t have to do any guess work? I’m talking about precision targeting by utilizing existing data.

google ads targeting
fig. 1

For any of this to actually work, you’ll need to have at least 12-24 months of user data on your own website. Without this data, you can try to best assume who your target audience is. With the data available, you just have to copy your existing audience’s data and target them with ads.

Google Analytics Interest Groups

To see your user’s interests, go into your Google Analytics and navigate your way to Affinity Categories. You’ll get a neat report (fig. 2) about what your target audience looks like.

Main Menu > Audience > Interests > Affinity Categories
fig. 2

You can easily export this report and start using it for your Google Ads targeting. This data is raw, and it takes a bit of work to dial into the exact customers that will actually make a purchase on your website. To refine this data, you can find other reports and filter them by certain metrics. My favourite go-to metric to filter by is either by Transactions or by Revenue. By filtering your users by purchase-related metrics, you are refining your data to only include users who have a proven track record of buying from you. You wouldn’t want to spend thousands of dollars to show ads for people who are likely to just do some window shopping.

Plugging in into Google Ads

Using the sample data (fig. 2), we can start adding these interests into our Google ads targeting. Below (fig. 3), you can see how we are taking this exact data and using it as our target demographic for our Google Ad. You can use this data to create a unique audience for every single demographic you are hoping to target.

fig. 3

For extra credit, try to create a group of audiences for a single state in the USA. I’ll give you a hint to get started:

State: California
Ages: 18-24, 25-34, 35-44, 45-54, 55-64, 65+
Gender: M or F

By splitting all these demographics, you will end up with 2 audiences per age group (one Male and one Female). With 6 age groups, that’s 12 audiences. With 50 states, that’s 600 demographics. Does that sound like overkill? Probably, but each audience has its own use case. Your product may not sell very well with men or young men, but there are several gift-giving holidays that will definitely see an uptick in sales from this demographic. Try a Mother’s Day or Valentine’s Day campaign that targets these demographics and see what kind of results you get. Which states performed well? Which ones didn’t perform at all?

The more data you collect, the more powerful your marketing strategy will become.

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