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Google Ending Similar Audiences: Will your marketing be affected?

In May 2023, Google will no longer generate Similar Audiences. Find out what this means for your business marketing strategy today!

Google is ending similar audiences

Earlier this month, Google announced several changes that they plan to make to their advertising service in May 2023. One of the biggest changes announced is that Google plans to scrap similar audience segments.

Google’s statement read “Starting May 2023, new similar audiences segments will stop being generated, and existing similar audiences segments will no longer be added to campaigns and ad groups on Google Ads and Display & Video 360.” From August 2023, similar audience segments will be removed entirely from existing campaigns.

Similar audiences have long been an extremely valuable source of growth for advertisers. Targeting specific audiences, as we spoke about in our blog Developing User Personas is an integral part of digital marketing. This change is clearly a big loss for all marketers! 

Today, we’ll talk about the implications of this for your business and how it may affect your marketing strategies moving forward.

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What is Google Similar Audiences?

If you’re familiar with Facebook Lookalike Audiences you’ll understand when I say that Google Similar Audiences is essentially the same thing but for the Google ecosystem. If you don’t know what Facebook Lookalike Audiences are, check out our blog Do Facebook (Meta) lookalike audiences still work after iOS 14.5?.

It is an automation method that Google uses to find similar people to the people who you are currently targeting with your ads.

Google uses a machine-learning algorithm to examine a source audience to find characteristics that are common among the members. It then automatically finds new people with those similar characteristics matching the source audience.

Similar Audiences expand your reach to include high-value potential customers, similar to your existing remarketing lists who are more likely to be in your target segment than the general populous.

It is an easy way for marketers way to reach larger audience pools, driving clicks, and conversions from new prospective customers.

Why has Google decided to scrap Similar Audiences?

It seems like the biggest driving force behind this decision is regulatory changes and pressure from the public regarding privacy.

This is because similar audiences are based on a seed audience fed to Google via third-party cookies. This means that Google is receiving data including some personal information about individuals from third-party businesses to gain insight into consumers. This data is then used to build similar audience lists.

As privacy becomes tighter and third-party cookies become obsolete the knock-on effect means that Google Similar Audiences must go too.

What does no more Similar Audiences mean for your marketing?

So how does the removal of Google’s Similar Audiences affect your business marketing strategy? Well, luckily Optimized Targeting and Audience Expansion are stepping into the void left to hopefully provide marketers with everything they need to succeed.

These tools allow advertisers to reach new users beyond existing pre-defined parameters in the same way that Similar Audiences did.

➡️Optimized Targeting: Optimized Targeting is focused on video, display discovery, and performance campaigns. It will help businesses find new and relevant audiences that are likely to convert without relying on third-party cookies.

➡️Audience Expansion:  Audience Expansion is for brand campaigns such as Awareness and Reach video or Consideration video campaigns. Audience expansion makes it easier for businesses to reach more people likely to convert.
The main difference here is that these new audiences are not based on information provided by third-party cookies, therefore the consumer’s privacy is safe, as opposed to Similar Audiences.
So will the removal of Similar Audiences impact your business marketing? In short, kind of. Similar tools will step into their place to provide much of the same benefits to you as a marketer. However, it’s definitely a smart idea, (if you haven’t done so already!) to consider cookie-free marketing methods. Consider reading our What happens to our ads when the cookies go away blog to find out how!


Similar Audiences segments will be available until May 2023, so we still have a while yet. If you are using Similar Audiences for the holiday season I would suggest you continue to do so to ensure you maximize the season for your business.

However, you should definitely consider still planning your transition away from Similar Audiences in Q1 of next year so the impact will be less harmful.

If you’re looking for a surefire way to grow your Shopify store, check out what Optily can do for your business by downloading our app today! Optily is a revolution in digital ad spend management. We can supercharge your eCommerce advertising across the online advertising world, with or without Similar Audiences 😉

Until next time!

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