Intercoastal Advertising Blog

The Power of Custom Intent Audiences for Online Display Campaigns

One thing is for certain, there are many options available when it comes to display advertising platforms. But there is one Ad-tech software has separated itself from the pack when it comes to reach & advanced targeting strategy.

That would be the Google Display Network.

One of its recent features, custom intent audiences, is changing the way people strategize and execute their digital marketing strategies.

This article touches on the essentials of custom intent audiences, and how they can boost your digital media’s overall performance. 

So what are custom intent audiences exactly?

Custom intent audiences are a significant evolution in the display advertising space. In short, Google is empowering marketers to target users outside of search to pick keywords & competitor website URL’s. Thus allowing advertisers the ability to re-market to them with display banners.

You can put in keywords (very similar to Google search), competitor URL’s, and even specific apps to effectively target people with branded creative. 

Important: Concerning URL targeting, this doesn’t mean that we’re targeting users with display ads on that actual domain. Instead, what it means is you can target users who have actually visited that website and serve ads on website they visit immediately afterward.

Pretty powerful stuff.

Which part of the marketing funnel do custom intent audiences hit?

In 2019 it is widely accepted that display media is a top-of-the-funnel marketing strategy. With respect to custom intent audiences though, I would argue that this type of display strategy is more mid to lower-funnel. 

This is what makes custom intent audiences special.

You can still have massive reach with your campaigns, but in-essence your implementing a highly sophisticated search / retargeting strategy. Only you’re not retargeting your site visitors. Instead, you’re retargeting your competitors!

How are custom intent audiences different than in-market audiences?

In-market audiences have been around for a while. Essentially, in-market audiences are much more broad in terms of how it targets. In-market audiences are higher up the marketing funnel and encompass more expansive topics or categories. 

Custom intent audiences help you define and reach an ideal audience for your business with more granularity. Built with high-performance in mind, custom intent audiences allow you to go beyond pre–defined audience categories and reach people as they’re making actual purchase decisions. Lower in the marketing funnel.

Custom intent audiences allow you to tap into your competitor’s customers. As mentioned above, it’s kind of like a supercharged retargeting strategy. Why limit yourself to serving ads to people who only visit your website, when you can also serve ads to people who visit and buy from you competition?

How to set up custom intent audiences

Custom Intent Audiences are pretty simple to set up and execute.

Log into your Google Ads account. From there, create a new campaign. Then select intent under audiences. Specifically, new custom intent audiences. Then create your custom audience with keywords & competitor URL’s. As your typing them in, Google is going to provide additional keyword options for you to include. 

Keyword Selection

It is wise to select keyword phrases that cover multiple tiers of the marketing funnel if possible.

If you’re an owner trying to market your local salon / spa, some top of the funnel keywords you could select would be “list of hair salons in Daytona Beach” or “affordable hair salons near me” 

Mid-funnel keywords would be “best hair salons for under $50” or “local wellness spas and salons in my area.” 

More specific, bottom-funnel keywords, for example would be “spas in Daytona Beach that use hot stones” or “local salons / spas specializing in rain drop techniques.” 

URL & App Selection

In addition to leveraging search data (keyword terms & phrases) the utilization of custom URL’s is what really takes this strategy up a level. You can use a homepage URL, or specific sub-tab URL to refine your audience if desired. Take it a step further and even input Apps related to your product or service. 


Custom intent audiences are the present and future of online display and video campaigns. There are numerous benefits of it’s technology included (but not limited) to scalability, heightened engagements, simplified audience management, and overall improved performance. Once applied, it will be hard to go back to using general demographic targeting or keywords alone.