Author: Joe Martinez

How to Find Bigger AND Better Audiences to Reach Using Google Analytics

Typically, when I kick off a display or YouTube campaign, I try and start out as specific as possible. First, my targeting usually leans towards remarketing, customer match or placements, but many times I cannot use targeting this specific. I might not have a big enough audience for hyper-targeted remarketing. I might not have a large enough email list. Or my placements may not be going to where I thought they would be.

My next step is usually to create my own custom intent and affinity audiences in an attempt to continue my goal of staying as close to my target user as possible. But, eventually, we hit a point where we just flat-out need to expand our reach to get in front of more people. This requires using the broader targeting options we have in Google Ads. So where do you begin?

If you’re looking to grow your awareness, hold off on spending a ton of money on persona studies. Start by using the free data we have in Google Analytics. Here, I’ll share one way I like to dig into the data to find out what targeting options I should be trying out for my awareness campaigns. And I’ll show you how you can use this to broaden your reach, too.

Getting Started with Audience Reports

The Audience reports in Google Analytics can give us a ton of information about a good percentage of our users. (I’ll get to why I didn’t say “all users” really soon. Just hold on a second.) For the sake of this post, I want to focus on just one part of the Audience section, and that is the Insights report. To get there, select “Interests.” Then, click on the “Overview” page.

We will then get to the main view, which will show you the Affinity Category and In-Market Segment for whichever segment and date range you have selected.

Now, remember when I said Google Analytics shows you great data for just “a good percentage” of your users? That is because certain reports won’t be able to collect every single piece of data from every user of the site. Here is what the “Interests: Overview” page looks like. Pay attention to the numbers I am going to box out:

In the image, I had the “All Users” segment selected when viewing this information. You can see the percentage of users in the image show we’re capturing just over 50% of all possible users. While this information is great, and I can use it to help expand the reach on my awareness campaigns, I also take the information with a grain of salt. Knowing what audiences my current users fall into is great, but I have to be aware I’m not getting every user who visits my site.

Using Affinity Categories to Broaden Your Reach

Now, you might be thinking, “This is great information, Joe. But how does this help my awareness campaigns?”

Good question, dedicated WordStream reader. You see, the reason I like to check out the Affinity Category and In-Market Segment is that they match the exact targeting options you can use in Google Ads. Don’t believe me? Let me show you.

While the image above only shows you in-market segments, both affinity categories and in-market segments in Google Analytics match exactly what we can target in Google Analytics. So the mentality I have is that if I can find some clear winners from users who currently visit my website, then I want to target more of these users.

Let’s Dig a Little Deeper

Suppose we liked the targeting options for in-market segments better than the affinity categories. We can click on the “In-Market” header to get more data on these breakouts. Here’s what we will see in Google Analytics:

We can get conversion data on all of the in-market segments we looked at originally. (You can get the same data if you want to also use affinity categories). I can look at which in-market segments give me the most conversions, the most conversions from a specific goal, or which in-market segment has the highest conversion rate. I like to look at which categories all users who come to my site are placed, but you can always change the segments to look at just paid users if you want. Viewing the data from a few angles could give you better direction on which targets you may want to try first depending on what your business goals are.

Ready to push this even further? Let’s click on the first In-Market Segment of “Autos & Vehicles/Auto Parts & Accessories/Engine & Transmission” and see what we get.

When you click on a certain segment or category, you get to see how your selection breaks down by a primary dimension of the users’ age ranges. Look at the data we get for the in-market segment we picked. I can clearly see the conversion rates increase as the age ranges increase. If I want to target this in-market segment, I now may make the decision to also target only certain age ranges or choose to showcase people in older age ranges in my display and video ads to better relate to my target audience.

Now, age isn’t the only primary dimension we have to analyze our affinity categories or in-market segments. There are several other options we can select to get more data. Here are all of the primary dimensions we can choose:

  • Affinity Category
  • Age
  • Browser
  • Browser Size
  • Browser Version
  • City
  • Continent
  • Country
  • Gender
  • In-Market Segment
  • Language
  • Metro
  • Network Domain
  • Operating System
  • Other Category
  • Region
  • Sub Continent
  • User Type

Do not get overwhelmed. There is a point of over-analysis. You know your accounts. You know your (or your clients’) businesses. Just look at the primary dimensions you feel will have the biggest impact on your awareness campaigns. There is no need to review every single dimension there.

Don’t You Love Free Info?

If you can afford massive, expensive persona studies, that’s great. But not all clients have that luxury, and that’s okay. We don’t need them. We have Google Analytics, and we can take the data about our current users and converting customers to find new targeting options to test for our display and video campaigns.

Finally, please make sure if you’re spending the time to break out new targets and reach a specific audience, that you create ads that speak to each audience. What’s the point of doing all of this work if you’re just going to show the same branded ad to each user? The better you can connect with your targets, the better you can make a connection with an audience who will help grow your brand.

TrueView for Shopping: A Quick Guide to Product Selection

Almost two years ago, we heard that people spend one billion hours on YouTube every single day. If you still don’t think your audience is on YouTube, you’re probably wrong. And if you are an ecommerce business looking for different ways to target potential customers with Google Ads, you need to get serious about TrueView for Shopping campaigns.

Ecommerce marketers can showcase products from their shopping feeds alongside TrueView ads on YouTube. This is a great way to use video content to enhance your YouTube marketing strategy to drive even more sales. Let me show you what your options are for selecting which products you want to showcase alongside your video ad content and how to optimize your selections.

Products are selected at the campaign level

If you are already running shopping campaigns for your ecommerce account, you are most likely familiar with the product selection process. While priority settings are at the campaign level, you can still create ad groups with a wide variety of product selection options. With video campaigns, however, our flexibility is much more limited. This is because advertisers must choose their products at the campaign level.

TrueView for Shopping campaigns are video campaigns first and shopping campaigns second. Keeping our product selection limitations in mind, the product filters we are given are going to determine how we want to advertise our videos and structure our campaigns. Think of the content you already have, or any marketing videos you may need to create, before building your campaigns. Planning out your product selections ahead of time will make building the campaign a lot easier.

Searching for specific products

By default, Google will choose to use all products in your merchant account just like a normal shopping campaign. You, on the other hand, will likely want only specific products to show up for your videos. The campaign setup makes searching for exact products pretty easy. Just start searching for your products by the title, URL or shopping ID you have used in your product feeds.

If you search for broader terms instead of exact URLs or IDs, you will get a list of results depending on what matches with your feed titles. You can then start adding whatever products you think would make sense to show alongside your video depending on what the campaign targets are going to be.

You may notice yellow warning triangles next to your products like the ones we see in this image:

The yellow triangles mean the product is currently out of stock. You can still add out of stock products to your videos, but they will not show up until your feed refreshes with new quantities in stock. If you have a lot of out of stock products, just be sure to balance your product selection with enough stocked products to cover all bases.

Shopping feed custom columns are more important than ever

If you don’t want to use all products, or search by feed data, custom filters are the only option for selecting products for your video ads. Up until June 2018, advertisers were able to create custom filters to select products for video ads. The layers we used to be able to create allowed us to make some pretty unique product groupings.

Did you notice how I said “used to”? Yeah, those days are gone. I got your hopes up before I squashed them. I apologize for that, but it is important to know if you are already running TrueView for Shopping campaigns. As of the beginning of June 2018, we can no longer create custom filters this way due to the new Google Ads interface. The only option we have now is using the custom columns in our product feeds.

Custom labels have always been important for Shopping feeds, but now that these are the only option for selecting products, they’re more important than ever. I understand you may be using all five columns just for your regular shopping campaigns for search. But all you need to do here is look and see if you can reserve one of your custom columns for your YouTube campaigns if you are really invested in video marketing (which you all should be). The labels you use for direct-return campaigns could differ greatly than labels you might want to use on products for awareness and consideration goals. Keep this in mind before using your current custom labels.

Parting advice: pay attention to video content

While you have many options for your products, let the content be the main decision maker. The products you show should try and match the goals of the video content and your targeting methods. While you can select up to a maximum of ten products per campaign, only six of them will show at a time. If you want the ability to show more products, utilize the custom filters or think about creating additional campaigns.

It may take a little time to find the right product selection to really boost your video campaigns. But once you find the right products to go with a great video, you will have video marketing that not only builds awareness but also drives revenue.

Improve Your YouTube Targeting with Custom Intent Audiences

YouTube ads are typically associated with top of funnel goals. Most likely you are either trying to build awareness for your products and services, or you are trying to grow your brand affinity. While I am a firm believer in top of funnel efforts, I still try to get as much direct return from my awareness campaigns as possible.

With YouTube, we can use remarketing, customer match, or direct placements to try and make our targeting as specific as possible. But as noted in a recent post I wrote on four facts you may not know about YouTube ads, sometimes the specific targeting you’re using is not as specific as you think.

With that being said, if you are still in the need of some new targeting options for YouTube ads, custom intent audiences are here to help. Let me break down what these audiences are and how to set them up for your video campaigns in Google Ads.

Custom Intent Audiences vs. In-Market Audiences

According to Google, custom intent audiences are “built with performance advertisers in mind.” We can use custom intent audiences to try and reach users as they are in the process of making a purchase decision. This sounds pretty similar to in-market audiences, right?

While the two targeting options seem similar, there are some clear differences between the two. First, in-market audiences are for people still in the research phase. If your goal is to drive more ROI, I’d still choose custom intent audiences. And we’ll get to the breakdown of a custom intent audience pretty soon.

The second difference is the number of options we get with in-market audiences. Here’s one example.

In the image above we see the in-market audience options advertisers have for “Sporting Goods.” What if my sporting goods store has a video promoting baseball equipment? The overall “Sporting Goods” category is most likely too generic for my tastes. Then to make matters worse, Google Ads doesn’t give me a deeper level to choose from that will match my video content.

This is why if you want to get more precise targeting for YouTube, you should really try out custom intent audiences, because you can make any audience that’s applicable to your campaign goals.

How to Use Custom Intent Audiences for Google Video Campaigns

If you’re not seeing an in-market audience that aligns with either your product offering or the content of your video, custom intent audiences should be the first place you try.

When you’re in the in-market audience selection view, the custom intent audiences option is already in your view. Let’s look at almost the same view we had earlier.

After we click on “new custom intent audience,” we get an opportunity to create our own audience based on any higher intent keywords we deem as important. And the beauty of this option for YouTube advertising is that we are targeting users based off of past search queries they used on Google. Yeah, you read that right.

Here’s one example of what my custom intent audience could look like:

I first went to the Google Ads Keyword Planner and typed in a few purchase-intent keywords I knew would be relevant to my video content. I then looked at all the other recommended keyword options and added those to my ad group plan within the tool. Last, I exported my plan, then copied and pasted those keywords into my new custom intent audience.

Before adding custom intent audiences to your YouTube campaigns, here are a couple notes to keep in mind:

  • Google Ads recommends adding at least 50 keywords into the audience for better accuracy.
  • Sensitive keywords will serve contextually only or may not get served at all.
  • All keywords are treated as broad match. So even if you’re pulling your exact match lists, understand your targeting is going to have a wider reach than you may be assuming.

Fifty keywords per audience is a lot more than what we (hopefully) have included in each of our search network ad groups. Consider all the ways you might want to group your keywords for a custom intent audience to target your videos. And keeping the content of your video ad in mind will help make these decisions a lot easier and a lot more accurate.

Once you have your audiences, it’s time to set up your campaign.

Ad Group Structure for Custom Intent Audiences on YouTube

I’ll admit right off the bat, this part might be a little open-ended. Segmenting your ad groups when using custom intent audiences is going to differ for each account depending on what your goals are. But for the sake of this post, I’m going to use the baseball example from before to give one example.

Since I have one video asset, I’m leaving all of my breakouts within the same campaign to start off. I then will create a different ad group for each custom intent audience I create. Here is what my initial ad group breakout might look like:

The first audience I create will be all of my converting search terms from Google Ads which may be relevant to this video asset. I definitely want to show the video to users searching for search queries that have converted well for me in the past. I then will split up general sporting goods terms from baseball equipment terms. The user intent of the search queries “online sports store” versus “baseball gloves on sale” are totally different, but both types of users may be interested in what I have to sell. Last, I may consider creating a custom intent ad group for localized terms, especially if I have a brick & mortar location.

This ad group breakout allows me to add audience exclusions at the ad group level so I can adjust my bids properly on the best performing ad groups.

Final Points

I still start out my video campaigns with the most specific targeting options as possible. Customer match, remarketing, and placements typically give me the best performance. But when I need to start expanding my reach with YouTube ads, custom intent audiences give me a lot more control than the other audience options for YouTube. Adding user intent as a targeting option has improved my view and engagement metrics, but also my direct return. And whenever we can report on an increase in return from YouTube, you know it’s a targeting option worth trying.

Optimizing for Earned Metrics in YouTube Campaigns

When you’re running a YouTube campaign, direct conversions are an icing-on-the-cake scenario. Often, the people who have seen your YouTube ad for the first time are newcomers to your brand, and they are probably not going to convert right away.

With these expectations in place, we need to look at engagement performance to evaluate the success of our YouTube campaigns. We have metrics like views, view rate, video played to, as well as my favorite: earned metrics.

In this article, I’ll go through what earned metrics are, why they’re valuable to YouTube campaign performance, and how you can use them to improve your video campaigns.

What Are Earned Metrics?

After a viewer watches your YouTube ad, they might go on to perform other actions that are a part of your YouTube channel. When running any YouTube campaign in Google Ads, I like to look at these additional actions as an indication of how well my videos are engaging users.

The best part about all of this? YouTube advertisers do not pay a cent for any of these additional actions, which are officially called earned metrics.

There are five types of earned metrics users can perform after watching your YouTube ad. Let’s break them down:

  • Earned views - Total amount of views after watching your initial YouTube ad. The views can be from the same video or any other videos on your YouTube channel. The earned views are incremental too. This means if one user watches five additional videos after seeing your YouTube ad, you’ll earn five earned views.
  • Earned likes - Total amount of likes any of your videos receive from viewers after seeing any of your YouTube ads.
  • Earned shares - Total amount of times viewers of your YouTube ad share any of your videos.
  • Earned subscribers - Total amount of users who subscribed to your YouTube channel after seeing your YouTube ad.
  • Earned playlist additions - Total amount of times your YouTube videos were added to another user’s playlist after seeing your YouTube ad.

Getting your video in front of the right audience is fantastic. Getting people from the right audience to act is even better. Once you start seeing the data on which videos are engaging your users the most, you can choose to adjust the bids on the winning video ad. You could also possibly look at expanding upon the targeting that’s already working.

In the new Google Ads interface, we cannot add earned metrics columns at the placement, topic, audience or demographic level. (Boo.) But if you’re like me, and like to create super-specific ad groups based of the video targets, you can still get a good idea of which targets get the most earned metrics. Use this view to try and find more ways you can expand upon what’s working to grow your YouTube ad campaigns.

How Else Can We Use Earned Metrics?

Why, with remarketing of course!

Assuming you already have your YouTube channel linked with your Google Ads account, you can create several remarketing audiences based off of user interactions with your organic videos or your paid video campaigns. And if you haven’t guessed where this is going already, yes, we can create remarketing audiences off of the earned metrics...kind of.

Okay, so we can’t directly remarket from just earned metrics from our YouTube ads, but we can create audiences off of the main components. You can see in the image above that we can remarket to video views, video likes, video subscribers, playlist additions, and shares.

So if our original campaigns are doing their job of engaging users to take some action on our channels, we can work on next-step marketing campaigns with audiences built with the help of our earned metrics.

Final thoughts

If we’re using YouTube to reach a new audience, first-time viewers likely aren’t going to be ready to convert right away, but that doesn’t mean you’re not getting value from your campaigns.

Stay on top of user engagement with your videos. Earned metrics will give you a better understanding of how recent viewers of your YouTube ads are interacting with your channel and boosting your brand affinity. Plus, it’s always fun to report to clients on all the free additional actions we’re gaining from our efforts.