In-Market Audiences are based on people’s recent search and browsing behavior. On the other hand, Affinity Audiences are based on people’s long-term behavior. These are basically people’s interests and habits.
To quote Google, “With Affinity Audiences, you can reach people based on a holistic picture of their lifestyles, passions, and habits. Affinity Audiences have demonstrated a qualified passion in a given topic.” Now I think they are using passion kind of loosely here. People can definitely end up in affinity lists for things that they are not passionate about.
Google only offers a relatively short list of Affinity Audiences for us to target and they are generally quite broad. The lists are things like ‘DIY’, ‘cat lovers’, ‘bargain hunters’, and ‘racquetball enthusiasts’.
If I was selling a product related to racquetball, that racquetball enthusiast audience might be a good fit, but for most of the campaigns that I am running for clients, I am actually not using affinity audience targeting.
The reason is that there just isn’t usually a good fit for what my clients are selling. Maybe there will be a list that is an okay match, but the size and the reach of those lists are usually just too broad. It would end up being a waste of money because we would be targeting too many of the wrong people.
Let’s take a look at an example – when you’re in the Google Ads platform, you can hover over the name of an affinity list to get more information about it.
So if I am looking at this ‘Social Media Enthusiasts’ list, Google is telling me that these people spend significant time engaging with social media including social networks, microblogging networks, and other online communities.
We can assume that this would be a huge list because of how many people spend so much time on social media and we can confirm that based on the estimated impressions Google is giving us – 10 billion to one trillion estimated impressions per week. Clearly, there are A LOT of people in this audience.
Below that, we can also see top related audiences. This is basically Google telling us where there is a lot of overlap. So a lot of people in the social media enthusiast audience are also in the ‘Nightlight’ audience, the ‘Shutterbugs’ audience, and the ‘New houses (for sale)’ audience.
This doesn’t necessarily make a lot of sense until you remember that these are HUGE groups of people, so there is going to be a lot of overlap when comparing any two really large groups of people. The nightlife enthusiast and shutterbug audiences are other Affinity Audiences, but the new houses (for sale) audience is an in-market audience. You’ll get recommended audiences of different types – in-market or affinity.
At the bottom, you’ll see top YouTube categories. These are actually topics you could target in YouTube if you want, but Google is basically telling us that people in these audiences are watching a lot of the videos that are in these topics.
You’ll want to always check out the Affinity Audience lists to see if there is a good match for what you are advertising. Don’t expect great results from these lists unless maybe you are selling a product that has very broad, mass appeal. Affinity Audience lists are usually just not very specific and they have a lot of people on them.
Here is a complete list of affinity audiences Google has available for us to target (plus, other types of targeting like in-market and topics):