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A Guide To PPC Audience Targeting


Written by

Ricki Gogna


12 MIN

A Guide To PPC Audience Targeting

Someone with a target symbol on their back

PPC advertising has so many different targeting options that are available in order to boost its performance for your business. Each one has been crafted to make a unique opportunity for advertisers to reach the right people.

PPC audience targeting is critical to any business using paid advertising, so let’s look at how you can use it to improve campaign performance.

What is PPC audience targeting?

Audience targeting is a method that involves consumers being separated into different segments depending on things like their interests and hobbies, known as demographic data. Knowing your audience can help you formulate PPC campaigns, whether you’re on Microsoft Ads or Google Ads, and align your strategy with that your audience’s lifestyle and preferences.

The typical demographic data you’d want includes:

  • Age
  • Average income
  • Location
  • Gender
  • Interests

In terms of data, the more the better but make sure you picking out essential data. You also want to think about the type of product or service you’re selling and what will be relevant.

When it comes to audience targeting, it helps you to understand the buyer’s journey and what they’re looking for when they’re on the internet. It ensures you’re using your marketing resources correctly and in the most effective way.

Audience targeting also has uses outside PPC. Companies like Netflix use its user data alongside AI to improve its recommendations and target the audiences most likely to watch specific shows. That’s how they boost viewerships numbers.

How does audience targeting work?

Audience targeting has two main elements in terms of data:

  • First-party data includes everything a business has directly captured its customer’s interests and behaviours. This is usually collected with cookies, small pieces of data sent from websites to a user’s computer and stored by their browser.
  • Third-party data includes information obtained from an outside source. As this hasn’t been collected by the business that obtains it, third-party data may need to be filtered before it can be used for audience targeting.

With both forms of data, you can then segment them based on your goals and the demographic groups they fall under. You can also assign them buyer personas to improve personalisation.

Both forms of data are needed in order to create an effective PPC ad. First-party data is something that most businesses will have access to and use the most as it’s cheaper, but third-party data can bring in information that may not have been available without more money, time, or resources.

Benefits of audience targeting

Publishing ads without consideration for potential audiences is a waste of money. What you need are high-quality leads that maintain and increase ROI (return on investment) for your business and that needs some effort and data analysis. Here are some of the key benefits of audience targeting.

Maximising your time and resources

Focusing on specific groups of people help you save time and resources for bigger tasks. For budget management, this is essential and strengthens long-term strategies. You might also have limited resources and, therefore, you need quick and effective solutions. With audience targeting, you’ve got the opportunity to focus your ads to make those impressions count and convert browsers into customers.

Optimising the sales funnel

When it comes to sales funnels, anything you can do to increase your chances of turning a click into a completed goal. There’s a lot of digital touchpoints that marketers need to go through until they reach the post-purchase stage.

Audience targeting skips some of those steps by doing the legwork for the potential buyer. When they have something that they need or want to pop up in front of them at the right time, they might skip straight to the purchase stage of the funnel.

Improving customer retention

Repeat custom is arguably more important than acquiring new customers as it can lead to customer loyalty and free promotion to new customers by word-of-mouth. By having customers that stick around beyond that initial transaction, they’ll come to you for their needs or interests and they are more likely to stick around.

Audience targeting covers that by honing in on what your audiences need and providing them with the right product or service.


Types of targeting

There are different types of targeting:

  • Search targeting – where ads appear on SERPs
  • Display targeting – where ads appear on display networks like Google Display Network and Microsoft Audience Network
  • Inventory targeting – where ads are placed on sites that offer the specific type of content that is often visited by the consumer.
  • User targeting – where ads are served to those who have displayed a particular behaviour or interest.

These can be broken down into segmentation strategies and divided into externally measurable characteristics. Behavioural targeting focuses on how and what users consume on the internet as well as their behavioural patterns. For example, that could involve their past purchases and browsing history.

Using a CRO tool like Hotjar can also help identify and collect some of this data.

How to target the right users

Audience targeting can take time. It can often be a case of trailing your way through each advertising campaign until your performance improves. There are decisions you can make as a business to improve your efforts such as conducting polls or analyzing your data. However, there are two methods that should be at the top of your priority list.

Audience exclusions

Audience exclusions remove sections of your target audience to help create a smaller group of targeted individuals that are highly relevant to what you’re trying to advertise. Doing this means you’ll be able to reach higher-quality leads, increases conversions, reduces costs, and avoids any issues with ad deliveries. The types of audience exclusions you can do are as follows:

  • Take away those existing customers that are currently in your target audience.
  • Exclude audience members that you’ve already pinned for a different advert campaign and who are more relevant to that.
  • Remove those website visitors that have already performed an action that you wanted them to do.

In-market audiences

Another way of targeting the right users is through in-market audiences, which connect consumers who are already researching or comparing products and services across the internet. Being able to take advantage of real-time data, it helps your ad to appear at the right moment.

In-market audiences can drive incremental conversions, helping you to connect with consumers as the last step before they make a purchase decision. Leveraging real-time data and a powerful classification system based on demonstrated in-market behaviour, these segments can help you to present the right offer at the right moment to those most interested in your products and services. Use in-market audiences in combination with remarketing to drive highly-qualified users to your site and improve overall remarketing efficiency for your campaign.

Google on the benefits of in-market audiences

Customer Match

With customer match, it allows you to use your online and offline data to help reach and re-engage with your audience. Using information that customers have shared with you can help Customer Match to target ads to those customers who’ll benefit from them. It’s a useful advertising tool in order to help better your audience targeting and improve your PPC advertising efforts.


Remarketing can allow you to advertise to those individuals who have already visited your website, your mobile app or in your CRM databases. By being able to remarket towards those who are already familiar to your business or brand can help to give that extra little push the consumer might need to proceed with a purchase.

Remarketing lists for search ads (RLSA)

RSLAs let you tailor your paid search campaigns based on people who have previously viewed your website or interacted with your mobile app. With an RLSA campaign, you can use your audience lists for your search campaign to help bid on those keywords that you wouldn’t normally bid on.

RLSA with Dynamic Search Ads (RDSA)

This form of remarketing combines RLSAs with Dynamic Search Ads (DSAs). DSA campaigns are where you’re providing Google Ads with your homepage, and Google helps create categories based on how your site has been indexed. These categories can then be targeted, and description lines for your ad can be created. Google then creates the best landing page that matches a user’s search with a dynamic headline to help pull in more traffic.

What does success look like?

When it comes success with PPC audience targeting, it’s worth looking at the conversion rates and how quickly your consumers work their way through the funnel. If your target audience is shrinking, but your engagement is growing, then that can be another measure of success and a sign that your ROI will increase. Being more in-tune with who your customers are and what they like will ultimately garner more success when your target them.

Audience targeting is just one of the many options that can help when it comes to improving the success and performance of your PPC ads. It can hold a big influence over how targeted your advertisements come and to help save your business time and money with more effective campaigns.

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