Interest category marketing is one of the display marketing features used in Google Ads. ICM is designed to target the specific audience who shows interest in a particular category. With topic targeting, you can target particular set of different sites but now with ICM you can target person’s interest also. That’s what ICM is developed for.

It helps you to target audience by adding them to ad group and reach them as per their interest. Audiences are just a group of people with some specific interest, demographics & purposes. Interest category helps you to select from wide range of categories such as buyers, educators, fitness and people that have visited your website. Google Ads will show ads to people who are likely to fall into these categories.

Given below are the different types of audience which can be targeted:

audeince type

So the question is, how these have been emerged gradually?

From the last few years, Google has started launching new types of targeting methods in Google Ads interest category tab. You can now see two new categories in the tab: affinity categories & In-market buyers. The older one interest categories tab still exists in “other” section but if you want to gain additional reach, then affinity audience can work for you.

ICM infographic

Affinity Audiences:

Affinity audiences are the widest targeting method, it could be used to gain maximum possible reach and create awareness among the audiences regarding products & services you offer. This category provides you more suitable information regarding the types of audiences you are approaching. As we know that, it is used for broad reach, it is recommended to choose CPM bidding for maximum impression.
However, if you are monitoring your budget carefully then you can also go for CPC bidding. Comparing with interest category (other), you can also choose beach bound traveler, luxury traveler. It means you are willing to pay for beach bound traveler who lies within travel category. Thus, allowing your ads to reach more specific audiences.

Note: If you are looking for new visitors mostly then you can exclude re-marketing list in order to have maximum new visitors.

In-market audiences:

If your prime motive is to gain higher ROI, then this type of audience targeting will be good choice for you. These audiences are well determined by consideration of various factors such as: sequence of sites they visited, conversion path for a particular product, negative factors like people who left the site only after viewing images rather than proceeding further to products and so-on. It is good for such type of clients who want performance results more than the reach.
Apart from the GDN source, Google also track records of these type of audiences from third party source to give insight data layer. It is recommended to go for higher bidding option in this type of targeting option (affinity or interest category here). It is because these audiences will yield better results.

Note: Always try to run this simultaneously with re-marketing to ensure that you are following the right traffic throughout the channel.


It’s a way to re-connect with audience which have earlier reached you through your web site or mobile app. It helps you to vitally position your ads on Google & its partnered website or network. It also helps in increasing drive sales activity, enhance the growth of subscribers or registered visitors, promoting your brand and many more. Re-marketing is a tremendous strategy for your marketing business. Thus, it helps you to better your brand awareness and recall audience to make some purchases.
One of the good feature of re-marketing is that you can focus in some specific cases, where it would not be possible without re-marketing option. Likewise, if people add products in their cart but did not make a final transaction. So, in that case you can create the list of targeting audience for re-marketing option. Although, it is a good choice to choose automatic bidding option for high performance remarketing results. It is because real time bidding option give you optimum results, since, it calculates the proper bidding value for the persons viewing your ad. Thus, you may get a chance to win ad auction with possible great price. There is no necessity of paying extra bucks for this.

Similar audiences:

It is also an audience targeting feature based on first party data or re-marketing list. It helps you to further expand your well performing audiences by targeting new audience similar to that of your site visitors within common interest. It is available for Google display network, search network and its partnered networks and websites.
One of the good thing about similar audience that it is created and updated automatically in a real time if you have created at least one list in Google ads audience library center. Also, it is advisable to use similar audience option only if you have re-marketing list in use. It improves the growth of your ad campaign towards new visitors similar to that of your existing users by multiple times, just with a remarketing list alone.

Difference between Affinity & In-market audiences are:

affinity and in-market audience

How does Interest category marketing (ICM) works?

In order to understand the way interest category marketing works, it is necessary to know how interest of particular group is marked. As per Google, they determine interest by scanning page content & the sites people visits regularly. It is same as in the case of keyword targeting, where they use the content of different pages & sites to match keyword targeted content ad groups for those pages. Combining it with information about how randomly people visits these types of sites, they determine interest category in which these people fall into.

It also uses demographic features in which people are targeted on the basis of age & gender criteria. Thus, making the interest category to give more refine results. It is also advisable to target audience only without keywords initially, as audience is restricted enough and further adding keyword may narrow down your traffic results.

What are the ways through which you can get optimum results through interest category marketing?

To get the maximum output from your ICM strategy you should follow the below mention guidelines:

Choose wisely while selecting audience category, it is because ICM is not only about the products & services you provide rather you also have to look for appropriate audience you are targeting as per their needs & interests.
For example- Suppose people are interested in attending automobile designing workshop can be targeted appropriately via automobile design school audience or through an automobile design interest category with proper keyword if required for further getting refined results.

If possible, separate the image and text based ads in display network ad campaign. It’s an effective trick which may give you fruitful results. Categorizing the image & text ads separately not only helps you in managing the bidding option effectively but it has been also seen that image based ads have higher rank compared to text based ads may be just because of lower competition level. Also, CPC is less in case of image ads with higher rank simultaneously comparing with its counterparts.

For getting better visibility, you will need to put each interest category i.e. audience into its own ad groups. It is because Google ads reporting allows you to see performance results either by interest category or by URL under network tab, you can’t get the results through interest category & URL simultaneously. You’ll get clear perception about those interest categories which matches up to your URL if you separate each category. It’s a good choice as interest category is more common in general than URL.

Always try to test out the both types of the newer targeting option (affinity & in-market) to see which is up to the mark for your business goals but do separate them into different category in order to adjust bidding option for both the audience category.

Always monitor your placements in each category to observe which one suits your brand more but remember you’re targeting audience instead of topic or content so don’t be restricted here so much as comparing with site’s content targeting.

Also, look for the new categories which are continuously being added. Since, this section has seen some major changes over the year & could be a great way to make your business reach further growth in terms of exposure and conversions.

Some useful practices you can do with your interest category marketing:

• New interests related to target interest: You should also think off the interest which may be related to audience interests. Since, audiences will not intend to align to your business category directly but they should be connected to your ad category somehow through other interest also. Likewise, if people are interested in buying “mountain bikes” then adding “hiking” & “trekking” into interest category will also be a good choice.

• Choose interest categories per campaign wisely: If you enter in an interest category tab, then sub-interest categories will be colonized and pop-up suddenly. After your campaign gets executed, monitor sub-interest category to see which is performing better & choose accordingly. Also don’t select the sub-interest in bulk, try to select limited interests in order to get optimum results.


Finally, we came to know about this well designed targeting feature of Google ads i.e. Interest category marketing. Hope you liked this article & also got some clear understanding of ICM. We have discussed about how ICM helps you in increasing brand awareness, getting site traffics, generating conversions and many more.

Till now, we were discussing about interest categories, it means what are the interest people can have and how we can target them through our products & services. You also gained an idea about the various types of audiences in interest category and how they can be targeted easily for our business benefits. Apart from selecting audience category, you should also focus on how to get optimum results from ICM so that it cannot be harmful for you.

Also, you can try some useful tricks to get refine results which may be like choosing new interest for new visitors which may have some common interest also with your existing audiences. Lastly, it can be concluded that try ICM if you haven’t used it yet and make your business grow at a faster pace.

AdWords Interest Category Marketing