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Custom Intent Audiences – Making the Connection from Search to YouTube

Published: February 4, 2019

Author: Melissa Collins

Custom Intent audiences, launched by Google in late 2017, use previous search activity to make the connection between intent on search and buying behavior on the Google Display Network and YouTube. The value of this tool for cross-platform marketers is immeasurable, streamlining performance insights gleaned through search keywords and user activity on display outputs.
When segmented strategically and built with specific audiences in mind, Custom Intent targeting can be a robust marketing tactic to connect with users on YouTube in addition to the display network. Use these tips to amp up your YouTube game and target the users who are most likely to convert on your product!

Set Up Your Audience

Setting up a Custom Intent Audience for your YouTube campaigns is no different than set-up for other display types, but this post provides a simple overview if you’re new to Custom Intent. (And for more Custom Intent best practices, see these great insights by our own Brad Banyai.)

  1. Select the Ad Group to which you’d like to apply the Custom Intent audience, and select “Create Audience” in the Audience tab of the UI
  2. In the “What they are actively researching or planning” section, create a new Custom Intent Audience:
  1. Name your audience and add search terms that you’d like to target:

Choose Search Terms

Because Custom Intent audiences are created based on past search behavior on Google, you’ll want to set up targeting around your top-performing keywords. Use historical search performance to guide your search selection, and choose the keywords that are likely to drive the most traffic to your website.

Test High-Volume, High-CPA Search Terms

As with any cross-platform marketing techniques, performance can vary wildly from channel to channel based on the context and quality of your creative. If you have strong video assets, don’t be afraid to test search terms with historically poor search performance – you may be able to drive a conversion on a video that would have been more difficult to convert on search.
One great example of this technique is using competitor brand names – which will typically cost you more on the search network – to promote your product to users who are already in-market.

Cross-Sell with Creative Targeting

Unlike search ads, where ad relevance is key to the quality and rank of your ad, Custom Intent audiences allow you to serve messaging that may not be directly correlated to what the user is browsing on YouTube. This is a great way to create demand higher in the user funnel that may not have the volume or awareness yet to drive any performance on search. Take advantage of this freedom to serve a variety of video assets on a high-volume search term – for example, use a non-brand search term with historically high search impression volume to advertise the launch of a new product.
Will Custom Intent audiences on YouTube perform as well as high-intent search audiences? Not likely – but they’re an affordable way to tap into a big stream of additional users who are in the market for what you’re selling.

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