In today’s saturated markets, reaching the right audience is key to getting the most out of your paid search spend. Optimize your campaigns not only around keywords, but also with powerful audience targeting options that let you find shoppers likely to want your products, while excluding those unlikely to convert.

Kenneth Andrew, general manager, SMB strategy and sales, Bing Ads

Kenneth Andrew, general manager, SMB strategy and sales, Bing Ads

For many small and medium businesses, keywords have been the gold standard helping sole proprietors direct traffic towards their landing pages and convert leads into loyal customers. And they are certainly an integral part of any Pay Per Click (PPC) campaign.  However, another level of value, beyond just keywords, can be found when you start using your ad account audience features.

Keywords help business engage with consumers who are searching for their product or service online. They help businesses leverage a person’s purchase intent or simple interest based on keyword or phrase matches, but they are generic in nature. In other words, what a keyword doesn’t do, is help you reach an exact kind or category of consumer with a customized message that will convert. It’s like casting a wide net into the sea in search of a specific kind of fish, you may catch a ton, but how many will you need to throw back? Instead, bait based on specific tendencies and make your time and money matter.

Moving away from the fish analogy (you’re welcome) using audiences within paid search can help you share ads based on purchase journey, demographic, search history, purchase intent, etc. Using audience data to inform your PPC campaign doesn’t just benefit your business—the real winner here is your audience, because the faster they can find exactly what they’re looking for, the more likely they are to become customers.

Use what you know about your customers to better cater to their online personalities.

After all, if there’s a mismatch between results and intent, if people click to your website, and realize it wasn’t actually what they were looking for, the ads you’re paying for aren’t helping your business. They key is to curate paid search audiences that work in tandem with the keyword lists you’ve worked so hard to build. Now, the right person is searching for the right thing and they find you! That’s the overall goal behind PPC—and here are 5 ways to make your audiences matter in paid search.


1. Trim the fat and reach your ideal audience with customized ad targeting.

Ad-targeting options in prominent paid search platforms like Bing Ads and Google Ads can help maximize your ad’s exposure to customers who are more likely to purchase them.

For example, if you’re an online beauty retailer, you could create a campaign related to weddings/bridal events and target it to a custom audience with the consumer behaviors that match that life stage, such as women aged 25-40, with an annual income of $50k+ that live within your shipping radius.

Custom ads can display for customers in specific areas at the best time of day and on a certain kind of device. For example, with mobile ad targeting, you can advertise to customers within a 3-mile radius of your cafe at noon, the time they are mostly likely looking for a quick bite for lunch. 75 percent of people who find local, helpful information in search results are more likely to visit the physical stores, so use what you know about your customers to better cater to their online personalities.

2. Don’t forget to remarket to the audiences who already know about you!

 Remarketing helps you target existing customers who’ve bought from you before or have visited your site without following through on the purchase. Why is this important—they already know about you after all? While they may already recognize your business, a little reminding can go a long way. Remarketing audiences can be based on many different scenarios including:

  • People who visit certain landing pages
  • Those who have purchased a specific product or service
  • Have downloaded an asset (infographic, e-book)
  • People who have simply spent significant time checking out your website

You can set up campaigns based on the actions of these specific audiences, helping either guide them along the purchase journey, or reminding them of the great experience they had with you before. For example, Bing Ads provides users with a Custom Audiencesfeature that’s similar to remarketing, allowing advertisers to import Custom Audience segments they’ve created in Bing Ads and associating them to current ad groups. Using this feature, you can target customers based on things like purchase history, renewal period, time since last purchase, and subscriber status.


Don’t discount those who have already bought from you and already discovered you; the internet is saturated with alternatives, and brands need to keep their offerings front and center to all potential and return customers. Remarketing and custom audiences will help you do just that.

3. Reaching people who lack purchase intent? Work backwards by excluding audiences that aren’t a good fit.

 This practice is part of your remarketing campaign, but important enough to have its own number. Are there people you don’t want to advertise to? You can prevent your ad from reaching their screens through audience exclusion controls. An example of this includes (or excludes in this case):

  • Excluding existing customers from ads designed for first-timers.
  • Excluding recent customers from ads that push product with a long-term commitment. If you just purchased an online reoccurring subscription for your monthly vitamins, you probably don’t want to see anymore ads about calcium and one-a-days.
  • Excluding ads that push people towards a free trial when they have already signed up for it.

Exclusions allow you to focus on the people you want to connect to, without spending money on people who aren’t likely to convert.

4. Not capturing ready-to-buy leads? Try Audience In-Marketing.

In-market audiences allows you to expand your ad reach to those who may not know who you are but are ready to buy a product just like yours. For example, with Audience In-Marketing, Bing uses Microsoft AI and third-party data to identify groups of searchers who have shown purchase intent signals in specific categories of products and services. For example, people looking up flights to Las Vegas and researching excursions to the Grand Canyon would be the perfect audience for an ad for a resort, restaurant or show in the Las Vegas area.

Here is another example: People looking up travel necessities and researching what to pack for an international vacation would be the perfect audience for an ad from an online retailer specializing in custom travel kits, travel wallets, passport covers and the like.


These are in-market audiences: lists of people who are in the market for what you’re selling. These lists are generated and kept current by the ad platform (no work on your end) and can be up and running within 5 minutes (if you already have an ad campaign off the ground). This is a great way to get discovered by people with intention based on data and user history.

5. Reach untapped audiences by working with Bing and Google in parallel.

 Google Ads is the most popular paid search platform out there and it’s a great option for digital ads. That said, utilizing Bing Ads alongside your Google campaigns will help you expand your reach to new territories and audiences you didn’t know existed. According to the latest data, Bing has a 35 percent market sharein the United States, a large market share in countries worldwide, and reaches 66 million searchersthat aren’t reached with Google Ads, according to a recent comScore study.

Using Bing and Google Ads together will help you find and engage with audiences that matter to you—because you’ll be able to design ads that matter to them.

Don’t Miss Out On Relevant Audiences

In today’s saturated markets, reaching the right audience is key to getting the most value out of your paid search spend. Optimize your campaigns not only around keywords, but also with powerful audience targeting options as well.