Targeting In-Market Audiences in YouTube Ads

In-Market audiences are a targeting option in Google that you can use for your ads. They allow you to target people based on what they are actively researching or planning. So, essentially, you are able to target people who are in the market to buy particular types of products or services. And, as with any type of audience targeting, people are being targeted here – not the content.

YouTube screengrab

If you’re targeting In-Market lists, then your ads have the potential to be shown on any type of content that those people are watching. Google places people on these In-Market lists based on their search and web browsing behavior. (And if you believe Google is listening to you when you are NOT online, then maybe you’re being placed on these lists based on your offline behavior too…)

While you can also create Custom Intent audience lists, we’ll only be covering the pre-defined lists given to us from Google in this post.

In-Market lists are based on recent activity. For example, if you were targeting a list based on dating services, the people on this list would not be people who were searching for related things a year ago. A lot can change in a year, so the people on these lists a year ago may have gotten married and possibly even had kids by now. Instead, you would be targeting people who have been recently searching for dating services.

I’ve heard that Google only looks at the most recent two weeks of your activity to create these lists. If I’m being honest though, I couldn’t find a source for this, so I don’t know if it’s a rumor that has been going around (that I am now also perpetuating). While I don’t know if there is an exact time frame that Google is looking at when they place people on these lists, I do know that these lists are based on recent activity. Because of this, the lists are constantly being replenished with new people since there are always new people searching for new products or services.

If you find an In-Market list that works well for you, chances are that it will keep working well because Google continually adds more people to the list and removes others who are no longer in the market.

Examples of In-Market Lists

In Google Ads, pull up the list of In-Market audiences. From there, select an audience and hover over it. Here, Google will give you more information on how the audience is defined.

For this example, we’re analyzing the audience, ‘Business Services’.

In this case, the audience is composed of people interested in business-to-business products or services. 

Under ‘Impressions’, you can see an estimated number of weekly impressions. Our example lists 10 billion to one trillion estimated impressions, which is an extremely huge range. While you won’t learn too much about an audience based on the estimated number of impressions, you can see some comparisons of size, so it gives you a general idea of the size of your audience.

Google also displays ‘Top related audiences’. When you’re trying to expand your targeting, this can be really helpful. If you’ve found an audience that works really well for you, you can see what Google considers as the top related audiences and expand to targeting them as well.

Next, Google provides a list of ‘Top YouTube categories’, which is basically a short list of topics. Here, Google tells us that the people in these audiences are most likely watching videos about these topics. This is nice because these are actually topics from the topics list within the interface, so if you want to add them to a campaign, you can just find them here.

In our example, one of the top related audiences was ‘SEO & SEM Services’.

To add a little more context, let’s take a look at this audience.

When hovering over the ‘SEO & SEM Services’ audience, Google defines it by saying, “People who influence purchasing decisions for services that provide search engine optimization or marketing”.

Under the ‘Impressions’, we also see an estimated 500 million to one billion in a week. While this is still a lot, it tells us that this audience is much smaller than the ‘Business Services’ audience, which is obviously a lot broader. So this new smaller audience is going to be more relevant, especially if we plan on targeting people who are in the market for SEO & SEM services. You can see ‘Top related audiences’ and ‘Top YouTube categories’ here as well.

Life Events Targeting

The last piece of targeting I wanted to cover is Life Events Targeting. These lists can be found right next to In-Market Lists and are already defined by Google. 

Here’s a good list of examples you may find in Life Events Targeting:

  • Recently started a business
  • Recently graduated college
  • Recently renovated a home

OR (because Google can apparently predict the future):

  • Starting a business soon
  • Graduating soon
  • Renovating a home soon

Of course, not every purchase is connected to a life event, so these lists may not be useful to you, but they’re worth checking out just to see if there is a life event that is somehow related to what you’re selling.

To recap, In-Market audience lists allow you to target people who are actively in the market for certain types of products and services. Because the lists are based on recent online activity, they are constantly being replenished and can allow you to continually reach new customers who may be interested in your business.