Similar Audiences are leaving Google Ads

Google News: Similar Audiences are no longer available in Google Ads starting on May 1st, 2023, leaving many advertisers using audience targeting based on their existing customer base stranded. Learn more about the background of this change and how to target lookalike audiences going forward in the following article.

What’s happening to Similar Audiences

Similar Audiences were automatically created by Google for every Ads Account and started populating from the start of the Account. To be found in both the campaign creation as well as the Audience manager, Similar Audiences were a reliable source of Target Groups and a great starting point for Google Ads beginners and experts alike. Unfortunately, they won’t be much longer.

Google has decided to discontinue the generation of Similar Audiences starting on May 1st, 2023. While you can still use Similar Audiences that were previously created and – more importantly – added to existing campaigns before May 1st, Google Ads Users will no longer be able to add the Audiences to existing or new Campaigns after that due date and the Audiences will no longer be generated. Furthermore, conversion value rules based on Similar Segments can no longer be created.

A few months later, on August 1st Similar Audiences will be completely removed and Users will only be able to access historical reporting. Current reporting and insights as well as targeting and conversion value adjustments will no longer exist or function. Remember to take a look at and monitor your campaigns and ad groups containing Similar Audiences starting at the latest at the end of July.

Why is Google discontinuing Similar Audiences

Google’s decision to scrap Similar Audiences is the latest step in their journey toward almost-complete automation. Citing increasing restrictions on common marketing approaches and a need to stay ahead of these environmental changes Google aims at revising Similar Audiences in privacy-centric ways. Previously introduced solutions such as optimized targeting, audience expansion and Smart Bidding are stepping in and taking over the leveraging of first-party data instead.

How to replace Similar Audiences going forward

How Users can deal with the loss of Similar Audiences depends on the types of campaigns running in their accounts. If you are currently running Search or Shopping campaigns you might be using Similar Segments to target new customers. In the future, you will have to rely on the new customer acquisition goal. Furthermore, you might be combining Similar Audiences with conversion value rules to drive performance based on user value. Google admits that an equivalent of Similar Audiences won’t be available in combination with conversion value rules but promises that switching to Smart Bidding will help value users based on conversions and conversion value. Lastly, You might also be using Smart Bidding and simply targeting Similar Audiences. In this case, no Action is required. All Customer Match segments will be included as a Smart Bidding signal though you will no longer be available to target Similar Audiences. However, First-party Audience insights have recently become available to all Accounts and can help you analyze how your first-party segments are delivering value.

But what about other types of campaigns? If you are solely relying on Similar Audience for the targeting of your Display, Discovery, and Video action campaigns you will need to start using optimized targeting and first-party data as audience hints. If you are using Similar Audiences in conjunction with Google’s other Audiences, such as in-market or affinity segments, you should also start including first-party data and additionally enable optimized targeting.

Lastly, other YouTube campaigns with goals such as Awareness, Reach or Consideration will also no longer be able to use Similar Audience targeting. Instead, enable audience expansion.

Saying Goodbye to Google Ads’ Similar Audiences: Painful Loss or Great Opportunity

There is no question that the loss of Similar Audiences will be greatly felt by marketers in all industries and niches. However, as demands on digital marketing practices evolve – especially in terms of user privacy – so must we. Jumping on the optimized targeting, audience expansion and Smart Bidding bandwagons requires us to rethink our strategy but will benefit us in the long run. Campaigns will fulfill the requirements of this new age of online advertising and be able to leverage the full potential of Google’s strategy of automation. But what do you think about the change? Are you and your accounts ready to withstand the changing landscape?

If you need support in optimizing your Ad campaigns, your online presence or even the digital transformation of your business, please don’t hesitate to contact us. Google products, business and marketing data and the ever-changing nature of digital marketing are at the core of our business and we always keep a close eye on any updates and how they impact our and our clients’ bottom lines. Furthermore, we are always interested in exchanging ideas and opinions with other industry experts.

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