Third-party audiences can be a great way to optimize your existing campaigns to run more efficiently and reach relevant prospects that you otherwise may not have had access to.
In search marketing, the two most commonly utilized third-party audiences are affinity audiences and in-market audiences.
- In-Market Audiences: People that are actively researching or comparing products and services within a given category.
- Affinity Audiences: These are based upon affinity groups that have strong interest in a given category.
How to Utilize Third-Party Audiences
There are a few ways that third-party audiences can be used – ranging from super conservative utilization all the way to full-steam-ahead-prospecting utilization.
Tip: If unsure about any given audience, dip your toe conservatively and then, based upon performance, make the decision as to whether you open the flood gates.
Here are the ways that third-party audiences can be leveraged.
1. Layered into Search Campaigns as Observation-Only
This is the most conservative way possible to test third-party audiences because you’re still targeting the same crowd.
You’re effectively just gathering data about:
- Which of the prospects coming through that campaign also happen to fall into a third-party audience.
- How those prospects perform relative to the rest of the campaign.
This also allows you to adjust bids based upon your findings.
2. Layered into a Search Campaign as Targeting
This kicks it up a notch because it means that you’re targeting specific keywords but only if those folks also happen to fall into the third-party audience(s) that you’re targeting.
Do this if:
- You’ve determined that the audiences are performing better than the campaign average and you want to max budget for those audiences.
- You want to start to branch into more general terms but don’t want to target everyone with those more general terms and have found that the third-party audiences have proven to demonstrate higher-than-average intent.
3. Targeting Third-Party Audiences on YouTube and/or the Display Network
This is the turbo-charged way to leverage third-party audiences.
With this method, you’ll target everyone within the audiences of your choosing and you’ll show them ads on YouTube and/or the display network.
Tip: When doing this, I like to dig a little further into demographic attributes so that I can get a feel for if there are certain segments of this audience I should delve into vs. targeting the whole pool.
Additionally, beyond the in-market and affinity audiences above, there are many more audience targeting options within YouTube and the Display network.
Using Google Ads to Identify the Best Third-Party Prospecting Audiences
When determining which third-party audiences to dive into, I highly recommend checking out the Google Ads’ Audience Insights tool.
This tool will show you the third-party audiences most commonly associated with your any of your first-party audiences as long as the audience has over 1,000 users.
Typically, the default view – if you’re tracking conversions – is to show the in-market and affinity audiences that your converters are most typically associated with.
This can be really helpful because it gives you a sense for which in-market audiences have a likelihood to drive conversions.
Want to get even more value from this tool?
Think outside of the box – beyond the default.
Here are a few ways that I like to use it:
Upload a Full Customer List
To analyze all sales – not just the ones that occur through Google Ads.
If you have an offline sales cycle, this also helps to separate the wheat from the chaff – as you can look specifically at sales as opposed to just leads.
Upload a List of Paying Users vs. a List of Freemium Users
To see if there’s a difference in the third-party audiences these users are frequently associated with.
Upload a List of Purchasers of Specific Brands or Products
When preparing for a product launch to identify which third-party audiences those customers are most typically associated with so that the product launch can be as targeted as possible.
Upload Lists of Your Highest Value Audiences (Loyalists, Big Spenders, Repeat Purchasers, Subscribed Purchasers)
To identify the composition of those audiences in order to determine which in-market audiences and affinity audiences may be most likely to drive high lifetime value.
Using Google Analytics to Identify the Best Third-Party Prospecting Audiences
To take this one step further, I also like to look at the data in Google Analytics.
This will show you how much traffic you receive from each of the third-party audiences, as well as the conversion rates, average user value (if ecomm) and revenue (if ecomm).
Tip: Be careful basing your decisions on revenue or conversion volume alone. If conversion rates are low, it could quickly become expensive to start paying for the number of clicks it takes to get a sale. I start with audiences that have high conversion rates first.
Zeroing in Further on Your Targets
Even still, since many third-party audiences can often deliver nearly limitless traffic volume (depending on your geotargeting) and budget is nearly never limitless, I like to dig in even further.
The goal is to try to isolate the best prospecting audience – and then if that performs well, expand from there.
To do that, I build custom reports to see if there are certain segments of those third-party audiences that I should parcel out initially.
I like to look at a breakdown of the demographics within any given third-party audience. Do conversion rates vary by age? By gender?
Using third-party audiences can be a great way to find efficiencies within your search campaigns and to find more volume through your prospecting campaigns.
The key is to know which audiences your target markets fall into, or stated another way: which audiences are most likely to drive more revenue.
Using the reports outlined above, you can find the audiences that have the highest likelihood to result in positive performance.