How to Add Audience Signals to Performance Max

Audience signals are one of the most important features of Performance Max campaigns.

They act as a navigational compass for your PMax campaigns, helping to guide your ads through to reach the desired destination – your target audience.

Audience Signals in Performance Max
Audience Signals in Performance Max

However, some people might miss or misinterpret many things when they add audience signals to Performance Max campaigns.

That’s why we are here. Let’s explore all about the topic and learn:

  • Easy ways to add audience signals to PMax campaigns,
  • Why it might be an important feature for your campaigns,
  • What exactly you should know about audience signals,
  • Best practices for audience signals,

and a lot more valuable insights to help you improve the performance of your Performance Max campaigns.

Ways to Add Audience Signals to Performance Max Campaigns

Here are your options to add audience signals to Performance Max campaigns:

  1. Your data (remarketing lists, customer lists, and more)
  2. Interests & detailed demographics (and custom segments)
  3. Demographics (age, gender etc.)

Let’s dig deeper and get started with the first option.

1. Your Data

“Your data” allows you to use your own customer data to create audience signals.

This can be a powerful way to tailor your campaign to reach individuals who have already interacted with your brand in some way, such as past customers or website visitors.

Here’s how it functions and the steps to add it to your campaign:

Personalized Targeting: Using your own data allows for personalized targeting. You can reach people who have previously engaged with your brand, like those who have made a purchase, signed up for a newsletter, or added items to their cart but didn’t complete the purchase.

Remarketing and Customer Match: This option primarily includes remarketing lists and customer match lists. Remarketing targets users who have visited your website, while Customer Match uses data like email addresses to target or exclude customers across Google products.

Enhanced Relevance: By targeting users familiar with your brand, you can increase the relevance of your ads, potentially improving conversion rates and building customer loyalty.

For example, let’s try and add the website visitors who have converted:

Navigate to Google Ads and choose one of your Pmax campaigns. Click “Asset groups”, and then click the pen icon next to “Signals” so you can start editing.


Click “Add your data” under the “Your data” section.

Find “Your data”

Here, you have many options to choose from. For our example, let’s choose the “All converters” to select people who have converted before. You can also click “+New segment” to add another type of segment.

Choose audience

2. Interests & Detailed Demographics

This option lets you target audiences based on their specific interests, habits, life events, and demographic details.

It is key for reaching a more defined group of potential customers whose interests and demographics align closely with your product or service.

Here are your options:

In-Market Audiences: These are users who are actively researching or considering buying something. This targeting is based on recent purchase intent, making it highly valuable.

Life Events: You can target users based on significant life events like weddings, moving to a new house, or starting a new job. These events often trigger specific buying behaviors and needs.

Detailed Demographics: You can target audiences based on detailed demographic information such as age, gender, marital status, parental status, and household income. This allows for very specific targeting, for instance, targeting new parents for baby products.

Affinity Audiences: This includes users who have demonstrated a strong interest in particular topics, making them more likely to engage with related products or services.

Custom Interest: You can create a new custom interest to target people with particular interests or purchase intentions. To do that, you can click “+New segment”.

Now, let’s say you want to target people who search for your competitors that offer products similar to yours.

Click on the search box under “Interests & detailed demographics”.

Find “Interests & detailed demographics”

Here, click “+New segment”.

New Segment

Now, you can name your segment, add interests, or expand your segment. Here, let’s choose “People who browse types of websites” to target people who search for your competitors that offer products similar to yours. Then, you can add the URL of your competitor and click “Save”.

New Custom Interest

3. Demographics

Using the “Demographics”, you can target audiences based on basic demographic information and focus your advertising efforts on the specific age groups, genders, and other demographic segments most likely to be interested in your products or services.

Here are the details:

Age and Gender Targeting: By selecting specific age ranges and genders, you can ensure that your ads are shown to the most relevant segments. For example, a brand selling women’s fashion might target females within a certain age bracket.

Parental Status and Household Income: Targeting based on parental status (e.g., parents of infants) or household income can be particularly effective for products or services that cater to specific lifestyle needs or financial brackets.

Basically, you can edit this part according to your targeting needs, and save your changes:

Performance Max Audience Signals - Demographics
Performance Max Audience Signals – Demographics

Performance Max Audience Signals Explained

If you add audience signals to Performance Max campaigns, you can leverage Google’s machine learning to improve your Performance Max campaigns with the audiences that have the highest potential to convert.

Accordingly, you should remember the following information:

What it is: When you add audience signals to Performance Max, you give Google’s system a starting point from which it can learn and improve. Over time, as the Performance Max campaign runs, Google’s algorithms optimize ad delivery, reaching beyond your initial signals to find new, high-potential audiences.

These signals can include data from your own customer lists, demographic information, user interests, behaviors, or even specific segments based on their recent interactions with Google services. They are like hints or clues you provide to Google about who your potential customers might be.

What it’s not: Audience signals in Performance Max are not direct targeting tools. Unlike traditional targeting methods, where you might choose a specific audience to display your ads, audience signals do not restrict your ads to the specified groups only. Once you add audience signals to Performance Max, they serve as initial guides for the algorithm.

In summary, they are not hard targets. Instead, they are helpful suggestions to guide the algorithm better for optimized Performance Max campaigns.

In addition, they are dynamic and can adapt to changing user behavior over time.

How Audience Signals Work: An Example

Let’s say you run a Shopify store that sells sports equipment, and your target audience mainly consists of young adults interested in fitness and outdoor activities.

You decide to run a Performance Max campaign to increase your sales. Once you utilize audience signals, this is how it works for you:

Setting Up Audience Signals

Setting Up - Audience Signals
Setting Up – Audience Signals

Your Data: You have a custom segment created on Google Analytics 4(GA4), which shows visitors who have shown interest in fitness gear and outdoor sports equipment.

Interests & Detailed Demographics: You identify that your customers often search for fitness tips, outdoor adventure guides, and reviews of sports equipment. Also, based on your market research, you create custom segments targeting keywords like “best hiking gear,” “affordable fitness accessories,” and “outdoor sports equipment.”

Demographics: You’ve noticed that most of your customers are in the age range of 18-30 years.

Implementation and Google’s Optimization

Starting Point: You input these audience signals into your Performance Max campaign. These signals act as a starting point, informing Google’s machine learning algorithms about your ideal customer profile.

Campaign Launch: Once the campaign is live, Google uses your audience signals to display ads to users who fit these criteria.

Algorithm Learning and Adjustment: As the campaign progresses, Google’s algorithms start to identify patterns and additional user segments that were not initially obvious. For instance, it might find that people interested in travel and adventure blogs also show a high propensity to purchase sports equipment.

Beyond Initial Signals: The campaign starts reaching a broader audience, such as travel enthusiasts or subscribers to health and wellness channels, which your initial signals did not explicitly cover. This expansion is driven by Google’s analysis of user behavior, engagement rates, and conversion data.


Your sports equipment store starts receiving online traffic not only from the young fitness enthusiasts you initially targeted but also from a wider range of customers with related interests.

This leads to increased brand exposure, a more diverse customer base, and potentially higher sales, all driven by the initial audience signals you provided and Google’s subsequent optimization.

This example shows how audience signals work as a foundation for Performance Max campaigns, guiding Google’s AI to start with a core audience and then expand its reach based on learning and performance data.

Why Should You Use Google Ads Audience Signals?

Benefits of Performance Max Audience Signals
Benefits of Performance Max Audience Signals

If you add audience signals to Performance Max campaigns, you are offered several key benefits that can significantly improve your marketing efforts. Here are four key advantages:

1. Improved Targeting

Audience signals provide Google’s machine learning algorithms with initial data points about who your potential customers might be.

This information helps the system to better understand your target audience, leading to more accurate ad targeting.

By indicating characteristics like demographics, interests, or previous interactions with your brand, you’re essentially helping the algorithms find and target users who are more likely to be interested in your products or services

In addition, instead of searching and segmenting your audience manually, you can use PMax to create asset groups based on signals and content. Google uses this data to target your most valuable customers

2. Enhanced Campaign Efficiency

Adding audience signals to Performance Max can lead to a more efficient use of your advertising budget.

This is because the system is more informed from the outset and can more quickly identify and focus on high-performing audience segments that are more likely to convert.

This efficiency not only saves time but also increases the likelihood of reaching the right audience with the right message at the right time.

3. Automation & Adaptation

One of the most powerful aspects of adding audience signals to Performance Max campaigns is the dynamic nature of Google’s machine learning algorithms.

They don’t just use your initial signals; they learn and adapt based on real-time data. This means your campaigns are continually & automatically optimized based on the latest user interactions, search trends, and conversion data, keeping your marketing efforts agile and responsive to changing market dynamics.

4. Testing & Iteration

You can use audience signals to test and experiment with different audience segments. You can improve your targeting over time, finding the most effective signals for your specific goals. Then you can make informed decisions.

Add Audience Signals to Performance Max: Best Practices

When developing your Performance Max advertising strategy with audience signals, it’s important to rethink the conventional approach suggested by Google.

Instead of grouping all audience signals in a single asset group, consider a more segmented strategy for greater control and insight.

Segmented Approach

While Google typically recommends consolidating audience signals into one asset group, a segmented approach where each asset group corresponds to a specific audience signal can be more effective.

This method allows for precise tracking and analysis of each group’s performance, offering valuable insights into which segments are most responsive and profitable.

Balancing Breadth and Focus in Targeting

While segmenting your audience signals, ensure that each group is broad enough to encompass a diverse customer base yet focused enough to maintain relevance and effectiveness.

Enhanced Campaign Control and Evaluation

By creating multiple asset groups for different audience signals, you gain enhanced control over your campaign.

This structure facilitates the evaluation of each group’s effectiveness individually, especially crucial for businesses with diverse product offerings.

Effective Testing and Optimization

It also supports effective A/B testing, so you should experiment with different strategies across segments.

By analyzing the comparative performance, you can refine your approach to focus on the most successful tactics.

Dynamic Campaign Adjustments

As the campaign progresses and data accumulates, some audience signals may outperform others.

With segmentation, you can dynamically adjust your focus and resources to the most effective groups, ensuring optimal use of your advertising budget.

In-Depth Data Analysis

Segmenting audience signals provides richer data for analysis.

Once you understand customer behaviors and preferences within each segment, you can explore not only current campaign adjustments but also future marketing strategies.

By adopting these best practices for your audience signals in Performance Max campaigns, you position your advertising efforts for greater efficiency, deeper market insights, and enhanced overall performance.

This strategic approach helps in leveraging Google’s powerful machine learning capabilities while maintaining a level of control and specificity that is crucial for successful digital marketing.

9 Things You Need to Know About Audience Signals

While it stands out as an important feature to improve the performance of your Pmax campaigns, there are some things you need to keep in mind about audience signals.

1. Mere Recommendations for Google: Audience signals serve primarily as recommendations to Google’s algorithm. Similar to how PMax Search Themes function, which lets you share relevant data with Google AI about your customers’ search interests and conversion drivers for your business, these signals are considered by the algorithm. It may choose to extend its targeting beyond these suggestions to achieve more cost-effective conversions.

2. Unique Audience Signals for Each Asset Group: When you create a new asset group in your Performance Max campaign, you should add audience signals for each group. This ensures that each asset group is tailored to target specific customer segments effectively.

3. Guiding Lights for Machine Learning: Utilizing audience signals is crucial as they act as guiding lights for Google’s machine learning algorithms, helping to pinpoint customers who are more likely to align with your business objectives.

4. Precision in Audience Lists is Key: Crafting strong and precisely defined audience lists is critical. This precision helps prevent your advertising budget from being squandered on audiences that are unlikely to engage with your brand.

5. Dynamic and Adaptive Nature of Signals: Remember, audience signals are not static. They provide an initial direction, but Google’s algorithms adapt and evolve these signals over time based on campaign performance data.

6. Impact Beyond Initial Targeting: Audience signals do more than just dictate who sees your ads initially. They influence the broader targeting strategy, helping Google discover new, potentially valuable audiences.

7. Not a Direct Targeting Tool: It’s important to understand that audience signals are not used for direct targeting. They inform the algorithm but don’t confine your ads to only the specified groups.

8. Continuous Learning and Optimization: Google’s algorithms continuously learn from the performance of your audience signals, optimizing future ad deliveries for enhanced campaign performance.

9. Strategic Input for Better Outcomes: By providing detailed and accurate audience signals, you strategically input into the machine learning process, setting the stage for more successful outcomes in your digital marketing efforts.

If you take these key points about audience signals into consideration, it will provide a comprehensive understanding of their role and impact in your PMax campaigns.