To Affinity and Beyond

Google AdWords’ recent roll out of custom affinity audiences got me thinking about how much further we’re moving beyond keywords, even more so than ever before, one piece at a time. In particular with this most recent rollout, the question now for PPC marketers is, do you not only know your audience – but within that, what your affinity audiences are as well?

First off, the difference between the two. Targeting your affinity audience (as it pertains to the AdWords interface) can be more direct and contextual. Say you sell running shoes and are appearing on sites that talk about marathons and shoe review sites. This newest option of custom affinity audiences gives you even more through the vast inventory that Google has using keywords for free-form interests or URLs to generate “bundles” within interests. For example, you may have a need to reach marathon- and running-specific audiences, but not just a general “sports” audience like you would with say, a TV network. In fact, this option of affinity audiences is meant to mimic the style of advertising that TV networks utilize, but with picking and choosing to show ads that utilize the data that we’ve personally supplied to Google about our buying and search habits and then making that targeting even more specific with custom affinity audiences.

It’s a teensy bit scary in the stalker sense, but at the same time, as an advertiser, so attractive to be able to utilize marketing dollars so much more efficiently. And as a user, I’d rather have ads that were actually of relevance to me rather than having to view that same commercial six times that I have absolutely no interest in. I’m actually finding more and more that ads or promoted content are educating me as to what is going on in my personal universe on brands, entertainment, and sports that I like.

If you don’t know what your possible affinity audiences are and if you’d like to get more familiar first of all with the concept of what affinity audiences are, how they work, and what they mean outside of the Google sphere, you can. I recommend checking out the Moz blog and Ian Lurie’s article from 2012 (it’s vintage, but relevant) – “Growing Your Audience with Random Affinities” – which I think we can all agree on is less than random anymore.

Check out how companies like Amazon, Reddit, and Facebook have already been employing this tactic and do some research on your own to find your own affinity audience in which to build beyond this new Google tool.

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