As the digital advertising landscape continues to evolve, Google Ads is, as always at the forefront of significant changes. One upcoming change is the phasing out of similar audiences targeting as Google recently announced, a decision influenced by growing data privacy concerns and the development of new targeting technologies. In this article, we will go into the reasons behind this shift, its implications for marketers utilising Google Ads, and the alternative strategies that are likely to emerge in its wake.

According to Google, the timeline for the changes is as follows:

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. Ad groups and campaigns that already have similar audiences segments attached will continue to function as expected.

Starting August 2023, similar audiences segments will be removed from all ad groups and campaigns. You will continue to have access to historical reporting data for similar audiences segments from past campaigns.

Reasons for Phasing Out Similar Audiences Targeting in Google Ads

Data Privacy Concerns

The primary catalyst for phasing out similar audiences targeting in Google Ads is the mounting emphasis on data privacy. Regulations such as the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) and the California Consumer Privacy Act (CCPA) have stipulated that companies protect user information diligently. Similar audiences targeting, which depends on gathering and analysing vast quantities of user data to identify potential customers, has raised concerns about potential privacy infringements.

Demand for More Personalized Advertising

Consumers are increasingly seeking more personalised and relevant ad experiences. Similar audiences targeting, while useful for identifying groups of users with common interests, falls short in providing highly tailored advertising. As a result, advertisers are looking for more sophisticated targeting methods that offer a deeper level of personalisation to meet consumer expectations.

Emergence of New Targeting Technologies

The rapid development of new targeting technologies, such as machine learning and artificial intelligence, has given advertisers access to more granular and accurate targeting methods. These advancements have diminished the need for similar audiences targeting, which can no longer compete with the efficiency and precision offered by these cutting-edge solutions.

Implications for Marketers Using Google Ads

Rethinking Targeting Strategies

With the phasing out of similar audiences targeting, marketers will need to reconsider their current targeting strategies in Google Ads. This may involve shifting focus towards more personalised and precise targeting techniques, like leveraging first-party data, custom intent audiences, and in-market audiences.

Emphasis on First-Party Data

The importance of first-party data will continue to grow as similar audiences targeting becomes less viable. Marketers will need to invest in collecting, analysing, and segmenting their own customer data to create personalised advertising campaigns that resonate with their target audiences.

Increased Adoption of Machine Learning and AI

As marketers pivot away from similar audiences targeting, the adoption of machine learning and AI-driven tools is expected to increase. These technologies can provide powerful insights and enable marketers to optimise their ad campaigns with greater precision.

Alternative Strategies in Google Ads

Custom Intent Audiences

Custom intent audiences allow advertisers to target users based on their online behaviour, including search queries and website visits. This targeting method enables marketers to create more tailored campaigns, reaching potential customers who are actively interested in their products or services.

In-Market Audiences

In-market audiences help advertisers connect with users who are actively researching or considering purchasing a product or service similar to what they offer. By targeting these high-intent users, marketers can improve their chances of conversion and drive better campaign results.

Life Events Targeting

Life events targeting allows marketers to reach users experiencing specific life events or milestones, such as getting married, moving, or graduating. Specifically targeting users during these life-changing moments can allow advertisers to create personalised and timely campaigns that resonate with their audience.


The phasing out of similar audiences targeting in 2023 will drive marketers to adapt their strategies within Google Ads. By embracing new targeting technologies and focusing on personalised advertising, advertisers can continue to deliver meaningful experiences to their target audiences. For advice or guidance on how you can adjust your strategy ahead of the upcoming changes get in touch