Custom audience creation using Google Analytics can be a powerful upgrade to your Google Ads (Adwords) remarketing campaigns. Once you’re done with this you’ll have awesome Google Ads Audiences at your disposal.

Remarketing (or “retargeting”) isn’t a new concept at all but many people remain surprised when we tell them about Google Analytics (GA) Custom Audiences. It’s our favorite feature of GA and we want to show you how simple it is to get started as well as begin to create segmented, granular audiences that you’ll use in your Google Ads campaigns. Let’s get started!

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Head over to Google Analytics, login, and then click on the Admin link:

Google Analytics Admin

Then you want to look in the Property column for “Audience Definitions”:

Google Analytics Audience Definitions


Click on “Audiences”, and once on the next screen click the orange “New Audience” button to begin:

Google New Audience


On the next screen you’ll need to choose which Google Ads account you’ll be using this new audience with. If you’ve yet to link a Google Ads account to your Google Analytics account, you’ll need to go over and take care of that now. Google explains how to do this here in this help doc. Once you’ve got your Google Ads account linked with GA you’ll be able to choose it from the dropdown here:

Analytics Adwords Link Accounts

Once you’ve picked the Google Ads account hit the blue “Next Step” button. On this next screen you’ll see some default audience definitions that you could choose, but you can also hit the “Create New” button to begin putting together your Custom Audience Targeting:

Create New Custom Audience

Now you can really start to have fun with this! The options available here are fantastic and powerful but do keep in mind that your website may not receive enough traffic for every custom audience definition that you create here. In order for your Google remarketing ads to run on the Google Display Network, your targeting list must be made up of at-least 100 active users from the last 30 days.

If you have a low traffic website you’ll need to begin thinking about how you can get enough new traffic to the pages you want to add into your custom audience targeting. You may need to run Google Ads search campaigns or high level display traffic campaigns first.

Another thing to note is that some options here are not allowed to be used with a Google Ads remarketing campaign. At this time Google doesn’t allow the “IN-MARKET SEGMENT”, (but interestingly does allow us to use the “OTHER CATEGORY” segment for our custom audiences). Another option that’s currently not available is the “DAYS SINCE LAST SESSION”, which is under the “BEHAVIOR” section.

Custom Audience Targeting


Get creative here. What do engaged users look like for your business? Start building that out here. My go to is the “CONDITIONS” section:

Custom Audience Targeting Conditions


In this example we’re building an audience of users who visited 3 valuable pages of our site, but EXCLUDING users who also made it to our Thank-You page URL. After this I usually go to the “BEHAVIOR” tab and add one more part to this audience. I include “SESSION DURATION > 60” too. This says that I want users who have been to my important pages, didn’t convert, and were also on site for more than a minute. Engaged users. Now we can start retargeting and “nurturing” them along with additional messaging and content.

How about referral source. Do you drive consistent business from your Instagram account? You can create an audience of users that come from your social networks.

Better yet utilize the awesome targeting options available in Facebook and Linkedin advertising first, then add the non-converters to a custom audience for retargeting!


custom audience referral source

Here we added users from this paid Facebook campaign to our custom audience. The Facebook settings were women in the US, between the ages of 24 and 45, live in Portland Oregon, and have “online buying” habits. Think about how powerful that is! We’re extending those amazing targeting options that Facebook allows over onto the Google Display Network.

So analyze what content your converting users interact with most, or the traffic sources they consistently come from, and create these audiences here. Once you have these audiences created you need to jump back over to your Google Ads account.


Once signed into Google Ads go ahead and click on the “TOOLS” link in the top right navigation.

Google Ads Tools Link
In the drop down menu click the “AUDIENCE MANAGER” link under Shared Library:
Google Ads Audience Manager
Now you should see your custom audiences that you created in GA listed here for use in your campaigns now. If you just created the audience(s) in GA recently you’ll most likely not see the list size just yet. Give it some time to calculate. Again, you’ll need at least 100 active users on a list to use it on the GDN.

While your lists are calculating you can still begin setting up your remarketing campaigns though. Create a new campaign for DISPLAY NETWORK ONLY and during setup you’ll be able to select one of your newly created audiences here:

google remarketing audiences

You’re now all set and ready to keep the message going to your most important, relevant users who might just need a little extra push to convert. I hope this successfully helps you get started with Custom Audiences but please don’t hesitate to contact us here at Unlocked Agency if you need any additional assistance getting things set up properly!