In the first era of paid search advertising, the channel grew quickly based on what many marketers consider the best targeting data available: the keyword.
After all, what better way to match advertisers and consumers by what they type into a search engine when in research mode and most open to a brand message such as an impactful paid search ad?
Audience targeting has changed the game
The biggest innovation in paid search over the last few years has been the introduction of audience targeting. Although the almighty keyword is still the most valuable intent data in advertising, the ability for search marketers to include more audience signals into their targeting mix has opened up a new approach to search marketing that helps brands bid and message better based on the type of consumer being reached.
Microsoft Advertising offers various types of audience targeting, and one of the most popular and powerful of these is remarketing. With remarketing, brands can target people who have visited or interacted with their websites. By placing a small snippet of code on their site, search marketers can create remarketing lists based on user activity or pages users have visited. Then, they can associate remarketing lists to ad groups in order to optimize bids, ads, and keywords to those people once they search again.
For example, the people who reach a certain product page have already demonstrated interest in that purchase—and compared to random internet users—are probably more likely to be interested in that product again. With remarketing, you can target those people with that product’s ad.
Another example is people who put items in your shopping cart but don’t purchase. In fact, 76.6% of people abandon online shopping cart so getting back in front of abandoners is one of the best uses for remarketing. In one Microsoft Advertising case study, a brand was able to leverage remarketing to achieve a 5-10% higher average order value with a 20% higher average ROAS.
As valuable as remarketing has already proven to be, it does have one limitation—it can only target people who have visited your website before.
But that limitation disappears with Microsoft Advertising’s latest audience targeting innovation: similar audiences.
Find more of your best customers with similar audiences
Similar audiences expand remarketing lists beyond just those people who have visited a website. Behind the scenes, Microsoft Advertising uses powerful data analysis to find more people that are similar to those found in remarketing lists.
Search marketers can even create remarketing lists from people who have actually purchased from them to grow your targeting to people who share matching traits to their customers.
“With similar audiences, Microsoft Advertising does all the work for you. We analyze your existing remarketing lists and then comb the Microsoft Advertising Network for new potential customers who show similar attributes to the people on your lists. We base this analysis on a variety of signals, including search history, activity on Bing and other Microsoft properties, and user profile data. If we’ve identified a similar audience that’s large enough, then it’s available for you to use right away.”
The only limitation for similar audiences is that Microsoft Advertising requires enough users in a remarketing list so that they have enough data to go out and find those matches:
- You must have at least one remarketing list with at least 300 users in order to use similar audiences.
- A similar audience needs to have at least 300 users on the search network or the Microsoft Audience Network before your ads can be shown to the audience.
“Similar audiences opens up new opportunities for search marketers to target online consumers who may absolutely be interested in their products or services but either may not be aware of the brand or haven’t recently visited the brand’s website,” says Kate Dubois, Skai’s GM of Search. “For practitioners, Microsoft Advertising’s similar audiences help them reach not just the people who have ’visited their website but reach new search users who have similar attributes and behaviors to their remarketing list.’”
Similar audiences can help make paid search even better than before
Over the last two decades, as paid search has grown from a fringe tactic to one of the biggest channels in advertising, practitioners have refined their approaches as it has become harder and harder to squeeze more performance out of the SEM budgets.
Similar audiences from Microsoft Advertising is a way for marketers to optimize their investment and find customers that they may have never before been able to reach.