How to Leverage Custom Audiences for Google Search to Increase ROAS

How to Leverage Custom Audiences for Google Search to Increase ROAS

By Shaun KanaryFeb 9 /2023

It’s hard to remember a time when you couldn’t just type in a search term (or say it out loud) and immediately access thousands of results. While Google Search results have drastically improved over the past 25 years, it’s still far from perfect. 

And in recent years, Google Search quality has been on the decline. For the average person scouring the internet for answers, the change may not be noticeable. But for those of us in the marketing world, the impacts are already reverberating. 

The number of searches are decreasing, dragging down impressions and return on ad spend (ROAS). Conversion rates for Google ads are dropping and a bigger budget won’t solve the problem. 

For example, a company we work with recently set the goal of generating 100 leads a month in a specific region. But the number of searches performed in that area for those keywords makes it an impossible task without a shift in strategy, no matter the size of the ad budget. After all, you can't make people search for your products or solutions. You can only be there when they do.

A more nimble and creative demand generation approach is needed to combat the changes happening with Google Search. 

And that’s where Google custom audiences come in. 

What Are Google Custom Audiences?

Custom audiences in Google are users, grouped by interests and behavior, that can be reached through Google Ad campaigns. 

This is different from the preset lists that are typically generated from Google. Instead, it’s a way to create and target an audience specific to your business that’s more likely to purchase your product or service.

The criteria to define a custom audience is broad and can include anything from the types of apps they’ve downloaded to the keywords they search. Essentially, it’s behavior that’s trackable across the web and that indicates a possible interest – or purchase intention – in your offerings. 

That tailored audience list is then used to target and retarget users with ads across Google and YouTube.

A Better Way to Use Custom Audiences in Google Ads

Most marketers use Google Ads and custom audiences to target people they’ve identified as potential prospects based on interest. That can be a great way of reaching opportunities. 

But there’s a way to dig deeper with that approach and use Google custom audiences even more strategically. 

Leveraging Google custom audiences for a better return on investment is a relatively simple task once you’ve identified your target audience and collected the right data. 

In your pipeline, you’ve got marketing qualified leads (MQLs), sales qualified leads (SQLs) and opportunities. Those qualified prospects may be someone who has visited your website. Maybe they filled out a form or downloaded a piece of inbound marketing content. 

Take those leads, who you know are more educated and aware of your brand, and upload them as a custom audience. That list you upload will identify them by information you’ve gathered from their interactions with you such as, for example, email address or cookie.  

For example, let’s look at a jewelry company. 

  1. You run an ad campaign for a holiday special. 
  2. Someone clicks on your ad, comes to your website and downloads a guide you’ve put together about Valentine’s Day necklaces. 
  3. You increase what you’ll bid on an ad next time they search for something related to your product. Instead of $2, you bump that bid up to $4.
  4. A week later, they do a Google search about buying a romantic jewelry gift.
  5. They see your ad, click through and purchase a featured heart-shaped gold pendant. 

Unlike Facebook custom audiences, you can’t specifically target that person with an ad. But  you can change your ad bid amount in relation to their actions to ensure it gets in front of them at the right time. 

You know they are familiar with your brand and a more qualified lead. And that, in turn, increases conversions on your ads. 

Increasing Your Return on Ad Spend

Although you bid more per ad with this method, the investment pays off. 

At Kuno Creative, we’ve seen client conversion rates jump by percentage points simply by leveraging custom audiences in this way. An increase from three to five percent conversion rate up to seven percent is significant. 

Additionally, these are more qualified leads as they have already entered your marketing funnel and had a number of prior interactions with you. Custom audiences should be the first thought because these are the people who are already familiar with your brand.

Intentionally finding ways to improve conversions is particularly important amid some of the shifts happening right now in the world of demand generation. 

For one, Google and Facebook ad conversion rates are declining across the board for a variety of reasons including the fragmentation of platforms, privacy changes and changes in audience demographics. 

Secondly, Google is making updates to audience retargeting by phasing out similar audiences by May 1, 2023. By necessity, organizations must leverage their data differently.

A strategic demand generation approach can help counter these changes and increase your overall return on ad spend.

Boost Results with Strategic Demand Generation

Our team of demand generation experts at Kuno Creative can help you increase your return on ad spend and boost your results with thoughtful game plans that make the most of your marketing investments.

From strategizing to executing to reporting, Kuno Creative can support you every step of the way. 

Learn more about how to make demand generation work for your brand.

The New Demand Generation

The Author

Shaun Kanary

With several years of marketing & sales experience for both the Cleveland Clinic and John Deere, Shaun brings a wealth of healthcare, consumer goods and industrial B2B marketing experience to Kuno Creative. Additionally, Shaun is a recognized authority in digital marketing and advertising as a respected college professor at Lorain County Community College, a professional speaker and columnist.