For small business owners, marketing decisions can be difficult. You want to know your ad spend is directed at people in the market for your product, but with traditional marketing, avoiding wasted ad spend is difficult.

We’ve all heard the quote often attributed to John Wanamaker, the 19th century department store tycoon and marketing pioneer: “Half the money I spend on advertising is wasted; the trouble is I don’t know which half.”

Digital marketing has helped solve Mr. Wanamaker’s dilemma.

Digital marketing gives us the ability to put the right message in front of the right person at the right time. And as digital marketers, it is our job to continue to refine who the “right person” is.

Finding The Right Person

Facebook Lookalike Audiences

Facebook Lookalike Audiences — launched in 2013 — allows business owners to to create an audience of potential customers who have characteristics similar to current customers. The new audiences look like people who have already bought your product.

Google Similar Audiences

Good ideas spread. That same year Google launched its own version of Facebook’s Lookalike Audiences, called Google Similar Audiences for Display Campaigns.

This summer, Google introduced its second version, Similar Audiences for Search Ads, as a Beta.

Similar Audiences vs. Similar Audiences for Search

Similar Audiences for Search Ads allows advertisers to further refine the type of person added to your audience based on people who have visited your website.

Google’s Similar Audiences allows us to expand the prospect universe by finding people who share characteristics with existing website visitors. Google uses machine learning to find others that are similar to users who have visited your website and who might also be interested in your specific industry, like self storage.

Google’s new offering, Similar Audiences for Search, gives us an extra layer of information about what that prospect wants.

The machine learning system identifies new prospects it believes are similar to users who have already visited your website. These users have never been to your website and have never looked at your RV storage options, but Google knows they’re interested in RV storage.This allows advertisers to more aggressively target an RV storage search ad to those who match similar qualities to your existing website visitors.

Here’s a second example from Google:

Say you’ve created a list of people who bought running shoes from your sporting goods site. Instead of helping you reach broad groups of people interested in running, Similar Audiences will identify that people on this list that have previously searched for “triathlon training” and “buy lightweight running shoes” before coming to your site and making a purchase. Based on this, Similar Audiences will then allow advertisers to target new people with similar search behavior, such as people who searched for “buy lightweight running shoes.”

But Google’s Similar Audiences for Search doesn’t shrink your prospect list — it expands it by finding more people with similar search behavior.

And on top of that, Similar Audiences is dynamic. It drops off users if Google’s machine learning algorithms determine they’re no longer in the market for your product, and it adds new users as they enter the market for your product. It is always up to date.

Beta Testing For Our Clients

Like all new offerings that may be useful to our clients, G5 has been beta testing Similar Audiences for Search. We want more than the best products Google and Facebook have to offer for our clients. We want the best products tailored to our verticals and the needs of our clients. We want to know if conversion rates increase and whether costs/conversion decrease. And we want to determine the most effective way to use the audiences.

John Wanamaker’s Dilemma

At G5, we’re solving John Wanamaker’s dilemma for real estate marketers. We’re eliminating wasted ad spend and we’re making the effective ad spend even more effective by tailoring the best products in the market to our clients’ industries and specific business needs.

Interested in trying Google’s Similar Audiences? Contact G5 to learn how your business can benefit.