Google to sunset similar audiences in 2023

Google to sunset similar audiences in 2023

18 November 2022 |

Media and Advertising Industry

In early November, Google announced that it will sunset similar audiences across its Google Ads platform in favour of alternative targeting solutions. The platform currently generates these similar audiences by grouping users who exhibit similar search behaviour as those in your remarketing lists. Starting in May of 2023, Google will no longer generate these audiences, and from August 2023 these audiences will no longer be eligible for use.

This change reflects the shift towards more robust safeguards for data privacy online. As similar audiences are partially reliant on third-party cookies, this change represents the search giant preparing for its commitment to phase out the use of third-party cookies by 2024. As such, we as marketers have two main questions: What’s the alternative for lookalike targeting on Google and will other platforms follow suit?

What will replace Google similar audiences?

This announcement has left many marketers questioning what a replacement looks like. These automatically-generated segments are currently an invaluable way of expanding the reach of remarketing lists – which can contain as few as 1000 people – with tens of thousands of engaged users.

But worry not: Google has outlined its plan moving forward, noting that ‘more powerful, tested, privacy-centric automated solutions’ will fill the space left behind by similar audiences. What this means, is that Google is rolling out a series of alternative targeting methods to ensure we can still leverage 1st party data, whilst remaining compliant with ever-evolving privacy policies. One alternative is Google’s new Optimized Targeting  feature. With this feature, Google will create a profile of similar converters for a campaign, based on real-time conversion data. For example; if a sportswear brand enabled optimized targeting, Google may use data signals like searches for running shoes or clicks to a popular sportswear site, to expand targeting. In addition, Google’s automated bid strategies will move to a more dynamic audience approach, leveraging customer match lists at the account level (this differs to current processes where advertisers need to manually add customer lists to campaigns) for more intuitive smart bidding.

Whilst this means less granularity when it comes to lookalike targeting for specific customer lists, this does mean that advertisers will still be able to leverage historic customer data to fuel prospecting campaign strategies. However, this will mean leveraging broader audience cohorts, in the face of stricter advertising policies and data privacy.

How can we prepare?

It’s no surprise that in the last twelve months, we’ve seen unprecedented changes in digital advertising history, in particular targeting changes in line with Apple’s privacy updates for iOS14+.

What has taught us as marketers, is that platforms will move quickly and adapt nimbly to evolve their products and features to comply with the changing privacy landscape. As an agency, we continually ensure we’re up-to-date with the latest targeting tools and products so that our campaigns and businesses alike can continue to flourish.

Moving forwards, the new normal will be a reduction in hyper-segmented audience strategies and instead, a focus on larger audience data sets, leveraging core customers more holistically when it comes to targeting.

For further advice on targeting strategies and the data privacy landscape in advertising, reach out to your ADMATICian today.