Google Ads is sunsetting similar audiences

Google will stop generating lookalike audiences in the near future. As announced at the end of 2022, there will be changes that will affect the way similar segments are used in Google Ads and new similar segments will no longer be created starting on May 1, 2023. Advertisers will be able to use them until August 1, 2023 in existing campaigns, at which point they will disappear for good (although not for reporting purposes). 

This change of course comes exactly six years after announcing their launch in Search campaigns. The impact of this news should be moderate on most Google Ads Search campaigns, and presumably will have a greater impact on those advertisers that have a large weight of purely audience-based campaigns (Display, Discovery, YouTube and Remarketing primarily). 

Similar Audiences Google Ads | All Around Agency

What are Google Ads Similar Audiences? 

Let’s start at the beginning: these audiences were created to be an intermediate point between the advertiser’s internal data (based on first party cookies) and audiences predefined by Google. In this way, an existing gap in the market was filled (remember that Meta has Lookalike audiences, which would be something similar). Advertisers were offered the possibility of acquiring new users, prospects or customers, with behaviors or traits very similar to their current ones. In this way, Remarketing could be expanded one step further, not only in Display campaigns but also in Search, which opened up some interesting possibilities.  

In practice, one of the biggest problems with these audiences was their limited volume of users, which in the end meant that in most advertisers’ accounts they could only be used occasionally, and with moderate results. Even so, they have shown themselves to be one of the best ways to extend the narrowest part of the conversion funnel

So why is Google getting rid of Similar Audiences? 

It’s not a simple answer, but to summarize, similar audiences have been losing relevance with the advent of new types of campaigns and new configuration elements in Google Ads. The need to protect user privacy and restrict browser cookies is also a powerful reason. By 2024, the use of third-party cookies is expected to be eliminated. And with the end of cookies, and the associated loss of data, these audiences would die a ‘natural death’ in any case. Therefore, it makes sense for Google to focus now more on eliminating those elements that no longer will be relevant and focus on perfecting those that represent the best bet in the future. 

What are the alternatives to Google Ads Similar Audiences now? 

Basically, Google foresees three ways to make up for the sunsetting of Similar Audiences, depending on campaign type: 

Display, Discovery or Video campaigns 

In Display, Discovery or Video campaigns, you can activate optimized targeting, which is activated by default in all these campaign types. What this tool does is to analyze the elements that are included in your campaign, such as landing page, images, ads and look for audiences that can fit with these resources and boost results. The disadvantage is that once again we are entering a territory where the advertiser receives little information about how these audiences are determined. 

Video awareness and consideration campaigns 

In Video awareness and consideration campaigns, it is advisable to include your own CRM data (customer lists, subscribers, leads…) and activate audience expansion. In this way, you will achieve an effect not unlike that of similar audiences. 

Search campaigns 

Finally, in Search campaigns, there is really nothing that replaces similar audiences. Google recommends you use Smart Bidding (something you should already be doing in any case), because both in Search and in Performance Max, Google takes into account the signals that your own data provides automatically.  

As you can see, Google’s ecosystem is always changing. On this page you can read all the information about Changes to audience targeting. At All Around we are specialists in working with Google campaigns. Feel free to contact us, and we will be happy to assist you. 

Source of the GIF: Google Ads Help

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Carlos has worked as a Performance Marketing Specialist at All Around for 7 years and was the second employee of the agency. With extensive knowledge of paid media platforms such as Google Ads, Bing Ads, or Meta Ads, he was in charge of SEM campaigns for a wide portfolio of clients during his time at All Around.