Get Started with Audience Segments

Audience segments, also known as user lists, are groups of people with specific interests, intents, or demographic information, as estimated by Google. Audience segment targeting is supported for Display, Search, Video, Hotel, and Standard Shopping campaigns. You can target or exclude audience segments at both the ad group and campaign levels.

If you want to target audience segments for Performance Max or Discovery campaigns, visit the Audiences guide.

Learn more about audience segments.

Basic concepts

You can target audience segments directly by creating and targeting a UserList. The information you need to provide in the UserList partly depends on the user list type you want to create. The following types are available:

  1. crm_based_user_list: User list of CRM users you provide.

  2. rule_based_user_list: User list generated by a rule or set of rules, typically based on actions the user did—or didn't— take.

  3. logical_user_list: User list that is a custom combination of user lists and user interests.

  4. basic_user_list: User list targeting as a collection of conversion or remarketing actions.

  5. similar_user_list: Output-only user list of users which are similar to users from another list.

  6. lookalike_user_list: User list composed of users similar to those of a configurable set of seed user lists.

These user list types can be used to build audience segments that accomplish different business goals. For example, to build a list of users that visited your website, you would create a rule_based_user_list.

Two important attributes you can set on a user list are membership_life_span and membership_status. The former lets you define the time period, in days, for which a user is considered to be in the list. The latter defines whether the list accepts new users. Note that membership_life_span is ignored for logical_user_list and rule_based_user_list, as list membership for these types depends on the rules defined by the list.

Usage Flow

Here is the overall flow for using audience segments in the Google Ads API.

  1. Implement the prerequisites, where applicable.

  2. Create and configure the audience segment by creating a UserList with the UserListService.

  3. Target your campaigns or ads to the audience segment.

  4. Review audience segment performance.

Implement the prerequisites

In order to create and target audience segments, you first need to:

  1. Review the policy for advertising based on interests and location. Sensitive information about users can't be used to build audiences.

  2. Set up your Google tag. This is required to target audience segments based on visits to or actions on your website. It is not required for Customer Match or custom audiences.

    Advertisers seeking to create user lists based on mobile app behavior should implement the Firebase SDK or work with third-party SDKs in order to track in-app behavior.

Retrieve the Google tag

All Google Ads accounts have exactly one account-level Google tag, created automatically when the account is opened.

You can retrieve the Google tag in the Google Ads UI by following the Help Center instructions or in the Google Ads API by creating a RemarketingAction and then retrieving the Google tag by issuing a GoogleAdsService.searchStream request using the remarketing_action resource:

FROM remarketing_action
WHERE remarketing_action.resource_name = 'REMARKETING_ACTION_RESOURCE_NAME'

Install the Google tag on your website or app

The next step is to install your Google tag on all of your site's pages. Learn more about adding the Google tag to your site or mobile app.

If you're planning to build audience segments based only on visited page URLs, you don't need to make any edits to your Google tag. If you're using custom parameters, you need to edit your tag to include them, as detailed in Advanced strategies for tagging and creating remarketing lists.

You can use Google Tag Assistant to validate your tag installation.

Built-in Google tag parameters

You can use the built-in remarketing parameter url__ to target a user list based on the URLs that people have visited on your website, as demonstrated in the Visitors to your website example.

Custom Google tag parameters

You can add custom Google tag parameters to your Google tag to create more tailored user lists.

Before creating your own custom parameters, check out the list of predefined parameters to see if there's already a good fit for your use case. Using predefined parameters makes it easier to integrate with other Google Ads remarketing features.

Create audience segments

The following creation guidelines apply regardless of type:

  1. Use the same account to create the user list that you plan to use to modify the user list. A user list can only be modified by the Google Ads or data partner account that created it. Otherwise, the user list is read-only.

  2. User lists are not supported in test accounts and are automatically closed upon creation.

Audience segment types in a UserList

Click an audience segment-specific link for guidance on how to create and target a UserList for that type:

Visitors to your website
Reach people who have visited either your website or your apps. This is done through advertiser-defined rules.
Visitors to specific pages
This is done by targeting users that have visited a URL that contains or equals a given value.
Visitors who took specific actions
This can include actions such as a purchase on your website or app.
Multiple user lists
This is done by combining two or more user lists to create even more sophisticated targeting.
Customer Match with email address, address, or user ID
A user list of uploaded customer data from your first-party datastore.
Custom audiences
Reach your ideal audience by entering relevant keywords, URLs, or apps that represent the interests and intents of the users you want to target.
Lookalike segments
Target audiences that are similar to and share characteristics with others.