Custom Intent Audiences: Targeting the Ones That Got Away

Any seasoned marketer, especially those working in paid media, will be familiar with the retargeting funnel model. 

You can re-engage those users who visited your website and get them to come back to sign up or purchase a product – which is extremely important in this age of the modern shopper, who will search around for the best deal.

From a PPC perspective this is great news! If you’re paying for those clicks, you want to be able to ensure that as many of those potential customers who have clicked and have accrued your business a cost, convert, one way or another.

However, is there more that we can do in other areas? 

A recent article published by WordStream shows that the average CTR for a Google Ads search campaign in 2020 is 4.62% (across all industries).

So hold on?! 

What happened to the other 96% (approximately) of users who searched for a keyword you targeted? Either they saw an ad from one of your Google Ads campaigns and didn’t click, or your ad didn’t show at all? 

96% of users who see one of your ads, potentially, never make it into the retargeting funnel. 

This is important because we know these users are in-market for the products or services you offer based on the fact that they are actively searching for them.custom intent audiences

Enter custom intent audiences.

What are custom intent audiences?

Custom intent audiences allow you to re-engage the ones who got away, so to speak, and drive action, effectively retargeting ad viewers who never made it onto your website.

According to Google ‘85% of people who use Google Search are also on YouTube’, which is great news as YouTube is a primary network where you can reach this audience format.

Pretty legit right? I think the idea of this is amazing and offers a really qualified level of user as an audience to use in a display format campaign, minimising risk when it comes into these channels being perceived, ordinarily, as top of funnel type placements. 

Knowing that these users have already actively searched for your product or service means that you can be assured they are not a ‘cold’ or ‘upper funnel’ audience, so messaging and creative can focus around your product’s features/benefits and USPs with a direct CTA, such as ‘Shop Now’ or ‘Sign Up’.

The lookback window for when a user will have searched for a particular keyword is seven days, so you know that an ad should still be pretty relevant. 

Creating a custom intent audience

Creating these audiences is very straightforward. Simply create a new audience and select custom intent as your audience type.

custom intent audience setup

From here, add at least 50 keywords to use within the custom intent audience. We recommend taking those that are your best converting/performing from your existing search campaigns.

We’ve been trialling these audiences primarily in the Discovery ads campaign format for our clients. 

The results

This is new territory for us in terms of an audience format, alongside Discovery ads being a very new campaign format at the time of writing this blog post.

That being said though, initial findings look good, so it certainly seems to prove that the model works.

For one of our B2C lead gen clients we can see that we’re getting conversions at on average a £7.18 lower CPA from this audience in Discovery than we are with generic non-brand keyword-based search campaigns.

custom intent results

custom intent results 2

In summary, custom intent audiences seem like a great way to add some really cost-efficient, incremental conversion volume. After all, reaching users that we know have a reasonable degree of intent outside of search also means less competition. 

I think that we can certainly expect this to become a key part of any multi-channel paid media strategy as we move forward.

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