Remarketing is an extremely valuable strategy that allows retailers to reach people who have already visited their site and connect with an audience that’s already interested in their products or services.

As an advertiser it’s likely you don’t want your strategy to end there.

Now, thanks to the introduction of Similar Audiences for Search and Shopping you can also attract new visitors to your site, by finding people who have similar search behavior to your existing remarketing list members.

Leveraging RLSA To Connect with Shoppers

According to Google’s announcement, similar audiences for Search and Shopping allow advertisers to use their own data to reach the right customer with the right message.

FREE GUIDE: The 2017 Google Shopping Guide

Before we jump into the benefits of similar audiences – let’s quickly review how RLSA works.

When potential customers leave a site, remarketing lists  for search ads (RLSA) help retailers connect with those shoppers while they continue to search for what they need on Google.

For example, Laura is looking for ballet flats and she visits a dance apparel website and looks at the shoe section of the site to check out the available styles. Even if Laura does not purchase, thanks to RLSA, the site will add Laura to a “Shoe category” audience list. Then, the site could bid more for Laura the next time she searches for ballet flats on Google again.

BLOG POST: Why Advanced RLSA Audience Targeting is Essential for Your Business

Benefits of Similar Audiences for Search and Shopping

By adding “Similar audiences” to your campaign or ad group targeting, you can show your ads to people whose search behavior is similar to those of your site visitors. Now, these people are more likely to be potential customers.

google similar audiences for search

The two major benefits of using Similar Audiences for Search and Shopping are:

  • Simplified audience targeting – Similar audiences targeting takes the guesswork out of discovering new audiences by automatically finding potential customers who are similar to people are your existing remarketing lists for search ads.
  • Getting new potential customers – With similar audiences, you can boost the reach of existing remarketing campaigns, and drive to your site new, more qualified users who have an increased likelihood of performing actions that are important to you.

Keep in mind, even if these new visitors don’t immediately make a purchase from your site, if you’ve added the remarketing tag to your site, they’ll be added to your remarketing list. This way, you can get more high-quality members on your remarketing list in a way that is intuitive and easy to manage.

So what happens to those people who are already on your original remarketing list?

According to Google, people on your original remarketing list are automatically excluded from the corresponding similar audience list. So, if visitors who are in a similar audience list get added to your remarketing list because they match your list definition, they’ll be removed from the similar audiences list.

How Similar Audiences for Search and Shopping Work

Step 1: AdWords looks at the search activity in a short time frame around when visitors are added to your remarketing list to understand aggregate search behavior of visitors in your list.

Step 2: Based on this information, the system automatically finds new potential customers whose search behavior is similar to that of people in your remarketing list.

google similar audiences for search

Let’s apply this in an example scenario (we’ll stick with the ballet flats theme):

  • An advertiser creates a remarketing list of people who bought ballet flats from their dance apparel site.
  • Instead of reaching broad groups of people interested in “ballet flats,” similar audiences will identify that people on this list tended to search for “pointe shoes” and “full sole shoes” before coming to your site and making a purchase.
  • Based on this, similar audiences will then find other people with similar search behavior.
  • Finally, your similar audiences lists will automatically update as the original list evolves and you won’t need to update the similar audience list after it gets created.


How does Google Qualify Similar Audiences?

Google will automatically identify which of your remarketing lists qualify for similar audiences based on:

  • The number of visitors on the original list
  • How recently these people joined the original list
  • The similarity of these visitors’ search behavior

Pro-tip: A similar audiences list is created from a remarketing list with at least 1,000 cookies with enough similarity in search behavior to create a corresponding similar audience. Similar audiences can’t be created based on the behavior of individual users, and AdWords can only define a similar audience for your own remarketing lists.

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