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Performance Max: What are audience signals?

Audience signals have appeared as an optional feature of the new Performance Max campaigns that Google recently rolled out. But what are they, and are they important to your strategy?

What is Performance Max?

Performance Max (PMax) is a new campaign focused on goal-based results. The aim is to maximize the performance of Google Ads campaigns for increased conversions. 

It gives users access to the entire Google Network, which includes YouTube, Gmail, Shopping, and Search. Discovery and Display are also included in the mix, where advertisers can hope to get exposure for their brands. PMax uses audience signals with Google's machine learning algorithms to figure out who your ideal customer is.

What are audience signals?

Image Source: Google Blog

What are audience signals in PMax campaigns?

Performance Max contains an audience signal feature that lets you suggest customer segments to guide Google's learning algorithms. Machine learning will use this data for optimized conversions. 

Even though it's optional, using this function is recommended as it guides the AI in the right direction. You're helping Google determine which customers are more likely to convert. So it's essential to use strong audience lists. If they're too broad, then PMax will show your ads to irrelevant audiences, eating away at your advertising budget.

According to Google, including the signals early in the campaign lifecycle is beneficial. It can help jumpstart performance. It'll also continue to feed information to its systems throughout the campaign cycle. It's especially advantageous when first-party data is updated. 

If you have existing client databases, then you can upload this for easier identification by the AI. If you don't have a list, you need to use the available segmenting options. Before you start, consider creating a buyer persona. 

It will help you determine who your target audience is, and in this way, the information you supply to Google will be more relevant. You can learn how to create a buyer persona in this video: Create Your Buyer Persona and Understand Your Customers.

Different types of audience segments

PMax has a few audience signal to choose from that you can use to design your campaigns.

Demographics allow you to target people based on criteria such as age, gender, education, or marital status.

Affinity signals segment your audience into groups with a strong interest in a particular topic. It allows you to create awareness in your target market's community. 

In-market audience signals come from Google's discovery that certain people are in the market to buy. They get this information from various sources—for example, people researching products and services that your competitors offer. 

What are audience signals?

Image Source: Google Blog

The benefit of using audience signals

Online advertising and marketing teams face several challenges when trying to reach the right people at the right time to make a purchase. Some of these are addressed and resolved with audiences in the PMax campaigns. 

Traditionally marketers need to find the right audience. Then, they must treat each segment differently and give them a unique experience by telling relevant stories. With PMax, you create asset groups tied to the signals and specific creatives. Then, Google uses this information to pinpoint your best customers. 

Remember that the Performance Max audience signals you set aren't targets. Instead, they are suggestions to Google as to who you think would be best suited for your products. 

A crucial option for optimized PMax campaigns

Performance Max is yet to earn its place in the sun. Many people think it’s a setup-and-forget campaign, but that's far from reality. Making sure you do the setup correctly is one way of getting the best return on your investment. 

Part of this is creating accurate audience signals. They will point Google algorithms in the right direction when looking for your ideal customer.

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