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In this post by Sam Mazaheri, learn how to use AdWords Similar Audience to generate qualified leads. Sam  Mazaheri is the Director of Marketing at AdStage and drove growth organically for over 10,000 businesses as  part of the core startup team. 

Every ad network promises to help marketers reach potential customers, but did you know you can take data about your actual customers and use it to target their lookalikes with Google AdWords? The feature is called Similar Audiences, and it’s a great way to expand your reach and target the most qualified audience in order to drive conversions.

In this post, I’ll explain how Similar Audiences works and show you how you can use it to get qualified traffic to your site.

How Similar Audiences Works

Similar Audiences is a targeting feature available in Google AdWords display campaigns. It analyzes website visitors (through an AdWords remarketingaudience) and uses that data to build an audience of new people based on similar interests. Marketers can create a display campaign targeting this audience exclusively.

What Audience Data Is Used -- To build a similar audience, AdWords looks at the source audience’s browsing activity on network sites over the past 30 days to discover similar shared interests and characteristics, without using personally identifiable information or sensitive data.

AdWords creates similar audiences by looking at the behavior of millions of users on their Display Network. In addition, it’s convenient. AdWords updates your similar audience as your source audience changes.

What Makes a Good Audience -- The quality of the list will vary for different advertisers. The more interests and characteristics your audience shares, the better your similar audiences will be.

How To Use Similar Audiences

According to Google, using similar audiences together with remarketing can lead to 60% more impressions, 48% more clicks and 41% more conversions.

Segment and Target Different Audiences -- If you have different product categories with different customer types, you can use similar audiences and remarketing tags to segment your audience by category. By segmenting you can instantly find new audiences for each category and increase your traffic.

Target Your Ideal Audience -- Typically, you exclude users who have converted from your remarketing campaigns, since they’re already customers. Instead of stopping here, you can use your list of converted users to reach similar audiences that are also likely to convert. It should be the best possible audience to target since it’s made up of the users that are most similar to your existing customers.

For Example -- Let’s say an office supply site has a remarketing list of people who bought office chairs. Instead of targeting the broad group of people interested in "office supplies," Similar Audiences can analyze the list and find that people tend to browse sites specifically about "bulk office chairs" and "ergonomic chairs" before coming to the site and making a purchase. Similar Audiences would take that data and identify other people with similar activity so you can reach them with targeted ads.

How to Create a Similar Audience 

Once you’ve created a remarketing audience that has cookied at least 500 people, you’ll be able to use it to create a similar one.

If you’ve created a display campaign in Google AdWords before, the process is pretty simple:

     1. Select the ad group in a display campaign you’d like to add your similar audience to.

     2.  Click “add targeting” and select "Interests & remarketing."

     3.  You should now be able to see “Similar audiences” from your existing remarketing audiences that you can add.

For more details about Similar Audiences, check out Google AdWords Help. To make it easier to manage online advertising campaigns, check out the AdStage all-in-one advertising platform.