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Activating Google Audience Strategies in Display and Video

Google’s display and video capabilities encompass a wide variety of inventory sources and ad format options. While audience availability differs for cross-exchange sites compared to Google owned and operated inventory like GDN, Gmail Ads, and YouTube, there are foundational audience strategies that advertisers should consider.

Within a people-based marketing strategy, priority audiences should be activated wherever available to maximize reach and response while continually testing new audience targets in siloed inventory or ad formats.

Building a Strong Program Foundation with Remarketing

Remarketing is pivotal to any display and video activation to users who have visited your website. While visiting your site indicates that high intent already exists, remarketing maintains brand consideration, staves off competition, and can shorten conversion windows with appropriately tailored messaging. Remarketing audiences are tag-based segments leveraging Campaign Manager Floodlights, Google Ads tags, and/or GA360 tags. Display and video campaigns running through DV360 will rely on Campaign Manager Floodlights, while campaigns running in Google Ads will rely more heavily on Google Ads tags. GA360 audiences can augment remarketing strategy on both Google Ads and DV360.

Also, if a remarketing audience already exists in the Google Ads platform, and you are starting a DV360 campaign, the audience can be shared so learnings don’t have to start from square one. Regardless of platform selection, an audit of tag implementation is highly recommended to ensure all site activity is being tracked and remarketing audiences reflect the maximum number of users. For example, many brick-and-mortar advertisers leverage a third-party to host their store locator pages, requiring a separate development process to capture store locator page traffic for remarketing.

Google tags should also be configured to pass back variables for further audience segmentation and refinement. The return of accurate product- or category-level details enables dynamic product remarketing ad units. For example, a department store will need to be able to differentiate creative for a user who recently browsed women’s shoes versus a user browsing men’s suits and workwear. This is also applicable to online retailers that would need to pass back transaction IDs, product SKUs, and units ordered.

Creative and bidding strategy based on recency should be carefully customized to an advertiser’s business and typical conversion windows. For advertisers with a lower average order value or shorter consideration phase, emphasis should be put on users who have visited the site in the past several days. For bigger ticket purchases with a long consideration cycle, recent site visitors will often have a lower ROI. These same factors should also govern exclusion strategy, which is equally critical for maximizing ROI. A fast fashion retailer who sees multiple online orders will need to set up exclusion audiences very differently from a mattress retailer where repeat purchases are typically years apart. With the emergence of machine learning and automated bidding and budgeting tools in Google display and video

platforms, it’s important to not over-segment remarketing audiences. Start wide and refine, giving Google as many data signals as possible to optimize performance and identify top converting attributes.

Look First to Modeled Prospect Audiences to Expand Acquisition Strategies

When expanding beyond remarketing activation, advertisers should first explore modeled audiences. Whether modeled in GCP and pushed out for media activation, or auto created as a similar audience, modeled segments typically outperform other acquisition audience tactics due to their custom nature. Building look-alikes of cart, lead form, registration abandoners, converters, and top customers are the most common strategies, but there is plenty of opportunity to get creative with testing new modeled segments.

Customize Usage of Google Behavioral Signals to Maximize Third-Party Data

Google offers a wide variety of prospect audiences for targeting within display and video. When prioritizing within a limited budget, custom affinity and custom intent audiences are always a strong option. These audiences are built from unique Google data signals, beyond a standard cookie ID, and are available across nearly all display, video inventory, and ad formats. Using a combination of keywords, apps, and URLs, advertisers can take advantage of learnings from search campaigns and GA360 to inform custom audience inputs. Custom affinity and custom intent audiences are also a great way to hone specific competitor conquesting opportunities.

Tailor Messaging Strategy with Activity-Based Audiences

A strong audience segmentation approach should always be supported by tailored creative and offer messaging. Activity-based audiences create an opportunity to sequence messaging strategy and propel users along a conversion path.

For example, a user who has viewed less than 25 percent of a video and not visited the website may need to continue to receive video assets until they see a brand message in full. That user can be captured in an audience to receive related display banner units until they click-through to the website. Should they leave the website without converting, follow-up messaging with a compelling promotion or offer can bring the user back to convert. While user flow is rarely so linear, activity-based segmenting is a great way to control the order of messaging received by a user so that the brand experience is compelling and seamless.

Future-Proof Strategies

As with any strategies that require tags and non-addressable targeting, it is important to make sure that you are identifying ways to supplement or replace tactics effectively. While we do not know how media platforms and browsers will partner together moving forward, the safest approach will be to continue building out your first-party data and leveraging other PII-backed third-party sources to enrich it. Tactics that also still work off a connected ID space, like what is available with GA360 / enhancements to Ads Data Hub, will also be valuable approaches that can still provide a lot of informed behaviors  to tailor your approach and limit larger impacts from future challenges.

Want to learn more? Check out Merkle’s Google Playbook here.