Last year at Google Marketing Live, Google said it would be unifying custom affinity and custom intent audiences under a custom audience option. Custom audiences are available  now in Google Ads for Display, Discovery, Gmail and YouTube campaigns.
How custom audiences work. You no longer create custom affinity or intent audiences. Now, when you set up a new custom audience from the Custom Audiences tab on the top menu of Audience Manager, you’ll have the option of building it based on either:
- People with any of these interests or purchase intentions.
- People who searched for any of these terms on Google properties (such as Google.com and YouTube).
You can then click the links below to expand the targeting with URLs, apps from a list, and/or also types of places they visit such as Video Game Stores or Financial Services, also from a dropdown list.
For example, I could create an audience based on people who use an app like TikTok OR visit places like Colleges & Universities OR Vegetarian Restaurants to expand my audience:
As you build out a new custom audience reach estimates will appear in the right column. Though reach estimates aren’t available for mobile apps and places now.
Custom audiences then target for Reach, Consideration or Performance , depending on your campaign goal and bidding strategy.
Your targeting must comply with Google’s advertising on personalization and beware that sensitive keywords will serve only contextually or not at all.
Existing custom audiences. Any existing custom intent or custom affinity audiences you have will automatically be migrated into custom audiences.
Custom affinity audiences with keywords will convert to “People with any of these interests or purchase intentions,” as will Display custom intent audiences. Custom intent audiences on YouTube, Gmail and Discovery campaigns will convert to “People who searched for any of these terms on Google properties.”
Note that you can identify your old custom affinity or Display custom intent audiences that have been converted because they’re labeled as “Custom audience Search terms” in the Type column.
Important to note. Custom audiences can give you more flexibility and specificity with your targeting and are designed to automatically choose the right audience based on the inputs you provide and your campaign goal and bid strategy. It’s important to note, though, that the expansions for URLs, apps and places are in fact expansions rather than refinements — these are OR commands rather than AND commands.
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