Reaching Users Based on Interests with Google Ads

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In the digital advertising ecosystem, one of the most robust platforms for targeting your desired audience is Google Ads. Specifically, one of the most powerful and often under-utilised features is interest targeting in Google Ads. This feature allows businesses to sharpen their focus when reaching out to potential customers, even in specific geographical regions like Australia. 

In this article, we’ll do a deep dive into interest targeting, concentrating on targeting strategies in Google Ads, and how interest category targeting can help enhance Google Ads reach. Let’s jump right in!

What is Interest Targeting?

Interest targeting is a feature within Google Ads that allows advertisers to target users based on their specific interests, hobbies, or behaviours. Unlike demographic or location targeting, which focuses on broad categories like age or geographic location, interest targeting aims to reach users based on their individual preferences and activities.

For example, if someone frequently visits cooking websites, watches recipe videos, or reads food blogs, Google Ads identifies this user as interested in ‘Cooking and Recipes.’ You can then target this individual with ads that align with these interests, increasing the likelihood of a click-through and subsequent conversion.

Examples of Interest Targeting

Interest targeting in Google Ads is broken down into several categories, allowing advertisers to get as granular as they want with their targeting strategies. Here are some common interest categories:

  • Automotive Enthusiasts: Users interested in cars, motorbikes, and other automotive products.
  • Travel Buffs: Users who frequent travel websites, blogs, or show interest in travel deals.
  • Sports Fans: People who engage with sports content, either by watching sports, reading about them, or searching for sports gear.
  • Home and Garden: Those who frequently read about or search for home improvement, gardening tips, etc.
  • Technology and Computing: Users actively seeking tech news, reviews, and products.
  • Fashionistas: People who consume a lot of content about fashion, beauty, and personal care.

If you’re focusing on targeting specific interests in Australia, you can also combine interest categories with geographic targeting to make sure you’re reaching the most relevant audience.

Why Combine the Two?

Australia is not a monolith; different regions have different preferences and interests. For instance, someone living in coastal Sydney might have a heightened interest in water sports, while someone in rural Queensland might be more inclined towards agricultural equipment or outdoor adventure gear. By layering geographic targeting over interest category targeting, you can precisely pinpoint an audience that is not only interested in your offering but also located in an area where the offering is most relevant.

How to Set Up Combined Targeting in Google Ads

  1. Log into Google Ads: Access your Google Ads account and navigate to the campaign where you want to apply combined targeting.
  2. Campaign Type: Make sure you’ve chosen the right campaign type that allows both interest and geographic targeting, such as Display or Search campaigns.
  3. Geographic Targeting: Under the ‘Locations’ tab, specify the geographic area you want to target. You can go as broad as the whole of Australia or as specific as a particular city or even a postal code.
  4. Interest Targeting: This can be set up in the ‘Audiences’ tab under ‘Interests.’ We’ve included a step-by-step tutorial below.
  5. Layering the Targets: Once you’ve set both interest and geographic targeting, Google Ads will automatically combine these to show your ads only to users who meet both criteria.

Examples of Combined Targeting

Sporting Goods Store in Melbourne: If you own a sporting goods store in Melbourne, you could target users interested in ‘Outdoor Activities’ within a 30 kilometre radius of the Melbourne area.

Travel Agency Specialising in Barrier Reef Tours: You could target users interested in ‘Travel’ and ‘Adventure Tourism,’ but limit this to Queensland or cities close to the Great Barrier Reef.

E-commerce Business Selling Surf Gear: For an online shop selling surfboards and other surf gear, you could target users with interests in ‘Water Sports’ who are located along Australia’s coastline.

Sydney-Based Music Festival: If you’re promoting a music festival in Sydney, you could target people interested in ‘Live Events’ and ‘Music,’ but only within Sydney or neighbouring cities likely to commute for the event.

Fine-Tuning Your Strategy

Keep in mind that combining interest and geographic targeting might reduce the overall size of your audience, but it also increases the relevance of your audience, likely boosting your ROI. It’s always advisable to monitor key performance metrics closely to gauge the success of this combined strategy and make adjustments as necessary.

How to Add Interests to Google Ads

Adding interests to your Google Ads campaigns is a straightforward process. Here are the steps:

  1. Log into Google Ads: Go to your Google Ads dashboard.
  2. Select Your Campaign: Click on the campaign where you want to add interest targeting.
  3. Navigate to Audiences: Under the ‘Audiences’ tab, you’ll find options for adding different types of targeting.
  4. Choose Interest Categories: In the ‘Browse’ section, click on ‘Interests’ to expand it, and you will see a range of categories to choose from.
  5. Add Interests: Select the interest categories you want to target, and click ‘Save.’

How to Set Targeting in Google Ads

Setting targeting strategies in Google Ads involves more than just interest targeting. However, combining various methods can significantly enhance Google Ads reach. Here’s a basic guide to setting targeting:

  1. Select Your Campaign Type: Different types of campaigns (Search, Display, Video) have different targeting options.
  2. Set Demographics: After choosing the campaign type, set basic demographics like age, gender, and location.
  3. Choose Keywords: If you’re running a search campaign, keyword targeting is crucial.
  4. Add Interests: As discussed, adding interest categories can provide more focused targeting.
  5. Additional Settings: You can also set additional layers of targeting like device type, language, and more.
  6. Review and Launch: Before setting your campaign live, review all the targeting options to ensure they align with your marketing objectives.

The Importance of A/B Testing in Interest Targeting

To maximise the benefits of interest targeting in Google Ads, advertisers should employ A/B testing as a routine practice. A/B testing, also known as split testing, involves running two or more variations of an ad to determine which performs better in terms of click-through rates, conversions, and other metrics. 

For example, you could test two different headlines for the same ad, targeting the same interest categories, to see which one resonates better with the audience. By continuously testing and refining your ads, you can derive actionable insights that can significantly enhance Google Ads reach and return on investment (ROI).

Understanding Metrics: Measuring Success in Interest Targeting

Evaluating the success of your interest targeting efforts involves keeping a close eye on key performance indicators (KPIs). Metrics such as click-through rate (CTR), cost-per-click (CPC), conversion rate, and return on ad spend (ROAS) are particularly relevant. Each of these metrics tells a part of the story:

  • Click-Through Rate: Measures the effectiveness of your ad in encouraging users to take an action.
  • Cost-Per-Click: Helps you understand how much you are paying for each click and whether it’s justified by the resulting actions taken by the user.
  • Conversion Rate: Measures how many clicks on your ad lead to a defined conversion goal, such as a sale or a sign-up.
  • Return on Ad Spend: Calculates the ROI of your campaign, indicating whether the revenue generated justifies the ad expenditure.

By regularly monitoring these KPIs, you can make timely adjustments to your targeting strategies, making your Google Ads campaigns more efficient and effective.

Cost Implications: Budgeting for Interest Category Targeting

Interest targeting can sometimes result in higher CPCs, especially if you’re bidding on popular or highly competitive interest categories. However, the increased cost is often justified by a higher conversion rate, making your overall campaign more cost-effective in the long run. Budget considerations should thus take into account not just the CPC, but also the lifetime value of a customer (LTV) and the overall ROI of the campaign.

When setting a budget for interest category targeting, start with a moderate investment to test the waters. Use the metrics discussed above to gauge the campaign’s performance. If you notice a satisfactory ROI, consider increasing the budget incrementally to capture a larger share of your targeted audience.

Interest Targeting: Your Next Steps

Interest category targeting offers a granular level of control that, when combined with other targeting strategies in Google Ads, can yield impressive results. Whether you are a local business in Sydney or an e-commerce store targeting specific interests in Australia, leveraging interest targeting can be a game-changer for your advertising ROI.

Don’t forget that interest targeting is just one of the ways that you can boost your Google Ads campaign. There are a variety of features you can leverage within Google Ads Audience Targeting, including Demographic Targeting and Device Targeting among others.

By focusing on what truly matters to your audience, you’re not just throwing your message into the void; you’re ensuring that it lands with the people who will find it most valuable. This tailored approach is what sets Google Ads targeting apart, and utilising it effectively can provide you with a substantial competitive advantage.

Not sure where to start? Reach out to our Adelaide-based Google Ads agency for a free consultation today!

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