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Google Is Sunsetting Similar Audiences: Here’s What You Should Know

Google recently announced that its Ad platform will be sunsetting Similar Audiences. So, what does this mean for you and other advertisers who use Google Ads’ Similar Audiences tool to reach new customers?

Read on to learn more about why Google is sunsetting Similar Audiences, when the tool will be phased out of Google Ads, and what you can do to prepare for the big change so your campaigns can continue to run smoothly.

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What are Similar Audiences?

Similar Audiences, also referred to as Similar Segments, is a Google Ads tool that helps advertisers find new audiences with search behaviors similar to your remarketing campaign’s existing audience.

Google Ads’ Similar Audiences tool finds potential new customers by looking at the recent search activity of users in your remarketing list to aggregate the search behavior of the users in your list. It then takes this information to automatically find new potential customers with search behaviors similar to those of your audience.

Why is Google sunsetting Similar Audiences?

Google is sunsetting Similar Audiences for a few different reasons. The chief reason for this move is privacy. Concerns regarding data and online privacy have rapidly made their way to the forefront of discussion in recent years, and Google is making the change to keep up with evolving advertiser and consumer behavior by implementing more “privacy-centric” strategies.

Changing online marketing strategies and approaches are another major factor behind Google Ads’ Similar Audiences going away. Google is focusing on more “durable strategies,” like automation, to stay ahead of shifts in online marketing.

What’s replacing Similar Audiences?

In place of Similar Audiences Google will still be offering other upgraded solutions for different campaign types to help leverage your first-party data and reach the right audience. These tools include Optimized Targeting, Audience Expansion, and Smart Bidding.

Keep reading to see how you can use these tools in different Google ads campaigns in place of Similar Audiences.

Google Optimized Targeting

Optimized Targeting helps advertisers reach relevant and expanded audiences and optimize them for conversion goals. We recommend you use Optimized Targeting if you’re using Similar Audiences on:

Google Audience Expansion

Audience Expansion helps you reach people similar to those in your first-party data by including your first-party data segments in your ad groups. You should turn on Audience Expansion if you’re using Google Ads’ Similar Audiences on:

  • Awareness and Reach Video campaigns
  • Consideration Video campaigns

Smart Bidding

Google’s Smart Bidding refers to bidding strategies that use machine learning in every auction to optimize for conversions or conversion value. We recommend you use Smart Bidding if you’ve been using Similar Audiences for Search or Shopping campaigns.

If you’re already using Smart Bidding, or you’re running a Max Performance campaign, you won’t need to make any adjustments to your strategy, as Max Performance campaigns automatically leverage signals from your first-party data.

When will these changes take place?

Have no fear, because Google won’t be sunsetting Similar Audiences overnight — the shift will happen in two major phases. This means advertisers have time to readjust their Google Ads strategies in preparation for the big change. Read on for a brief timeline of when Google will begin sunsetting Similar Audiences.

May 2023

Starting in May, advertisers will no longer be able to add Similar Audiences to existing campaigns or ad groups. That said, they’ll still be able to target existing Similar Audiences already attached to campaigns.

Additionally, advertisers will not be able to create new Conversion Value Rules based on Similar Audiences, nor will Similar Audiences be automatically created for data segments. Existing Conversion Value Rules will still continue to work, though.

August 2023

August will mark the final phase of changes to Google’s sunsetting of Similar Audiences. Come August 1, Similar Audiences will no longer be available for targeting and reporting, and will be removed from all ad groups and campaigns.

Similar Audiences will no longer appear in Google Ads and Audience Manager, and will not be included in Google Ads’ insights or reporting (historical reporting will still be available, though!). Finally, Conversion Value Rules that use Similar Audiences will no longer work and Conversion Values won’t be adjusted based on Similar Audiences.

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