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Digital marketeers talk a lot about audiences as a way to filter campaigns and to reduce wasted spend against people that are unlikely to convert. Whether its first of third party data there are many different types of audiences across each digital platform, and whilst these do have some similarities each has their own unique set of different targeting options available.

Through the use of audiences to reduce account wastage and increase relevance we have seen increases in click through rates of 65%, increases in conversion rates of 45% leading to a reduction in CPA of 51%.

This blog post explores the different audience types you can implement, as well as how to use them, across each platform and multiple platforms and reveals how to retarget search audiences via social.

Audience Types:

First Party audiences.

These can be broken down into 2 segments:

  • CRM audiences – These live in CRM databases and are uploaded directly into some platforms for re-engagement, exclusions and to build look-a-like lists, as long as they are GDPR compliant of course.
  • Website audiences. – These are audience pools created from users’ interactions with your website. These can be again used to re-engage, exclude or look-a-like.

Second party audiences

These are audiences created by the platform in use, e.g. Google or Facebook.

Google has pre-built audience lists of users who have shown in-market intent for something e.g. car insurance, as well as affinity audiences which are based on lifestyles and passions e.g. car enthusiasts. Custom audiences can also be built based on combinations of these and websites recently visited.

Example of our 2nd party Google Data

Facebook contains detailed targeting on its members including age, demographic, interests, relationship status, education level and many more. All of which can be used as target audiences for campaigns.

Third party audiences

These are additional audiences that can be overlaid onto the digital platforms via a ‘third party’ for example Experian’s Mosaic data segments can be accessed via Facebook and targeted. TwentyCI’s home mover data can be accessed, as well as users purchase habits via Mastercard.

Whilst all the ways ads can be targeted at you may sound a touch ‘big brother’, it should mean there is no excuse for poorly targeted ads, meaning the ads your audience sees will be relevant, and relevant ads are usually welcomed.


When creating audiences, the recency of their engagement needs to be considered and you will need to set the length of days someone sits within your audience pool once collected. The less days, the more powerful the data set, but the more days the greater scale the data set will have. As such multiple audience lists will need to be created with differing recencies.

It is important to ensure that all audience lists start from zero, so make sure you set them up before intending to use them. As users exhibit the right behaviour the lists will build, and once minimum volumes are hit, they are ready for use.

Below is a list of how to get started with audiences across each of the core paid platforms.


Google Ads has a lovely feature that lets you observe the performance of people in an audience before making any bid or budget changes. As such you can go to town with the volume of different list combinations and see which does best.

Once you have a winner/winners you can then set bid modifiers against that audience to win the click for people you know are likely to convert.

The next stage would be to split that audience into its own ad group and change the copy to be relevant. For example, if the winning audience is families, change your copy to be relevant to families.

First Party audiences

Build audience lists in Google Analytics and pull them through into Ads. This can include audiences of completed goals and offline goals. By pulling them in via Google Analytics rather than directly into Ads you maintain the full suite of optimisation techniques.

Build audience lists of key pages that signify high intent such as cart abandoners, blog pages or PR content.

Audience packs are available for implementation from the Analytics Audience Gallery. These include useful audiences such as new and returning visitors.

Second Party

Analyse which in-market and affinity audiences perform well against goals in Google Analytics and apply these in Ads.

Replicate your audiences by building a combined audience e.g. household composition, and lifestyle traits that audience might have, e.g. “” for expectant parents”, or “in-market for trips to Sri Lanka” for affluence, or even “avid investors” for a more financially savvy audience.

Third party

Whilst some third party data and algorithms are available to plug into Google Ads e.g. Experian’ mosaic data, which upweights bids based on an assumed segment, this is usually only utilised once first and second party audiences and their performance has been exhausted.


Facebook’s audience data is used to target a specific audience rather than the observe / target process of Google.

First Party audiences

Ensure the Facebook Pixel is installed and is collecting all conversions points soft and hard for reporting and future use.

Upload any GDPR compliant data into the platform such as all converters, converters of softer conversions such as brochure requests, converters from different geographic regions or different types of customers e.g. Families vs Couples.

Second Party Audiences

Utilise Facebook’s detailed targeting to drill down to each of your audiences. Build your personas and serve relevant messaging to them. Ensure products shown are relevant to that persona.

Third Party Audiences

Additional data can be overlaid into Facebook to enable extra targeting, but it will come with a data charge so value needs to analysed and first and second party audiences exhausted first.

Once audiences have been set, be sure to analyse them, report on them and change the messaging to be relevant for them, analyse them again and so on and so forth to reap the performance rewards.

Google Marketing Platform (GMP)

Audiences collected in GMP via floodlight tags are primarily for use within its demand side platform (DSP) Display and Video 360 (DV360). The bid management platform Search Ads 360 (SA360) is powered by Google audiences and thus follows the Google process above.

One powerful difference is with GMP labels in , these allow control of a snippet of code at the URL level of search. This same snippet can be captured in Facebook to facilitate search to social retargeting.

We hope that this post was useful as an introduction to audiences and how to use them; for more information on our Paid Media Services or for help with setting up, managing, or planning what’s next for your audiences, please do get in touch.


Claire Stanley-Manock

Paid Media Director