Video Marketing

Understanding Intent-Based Audiences in YouTube

Megan O'Neill


We’ve been exploring YouTube advertising with a blog series all about YouTube for action. We’ve covered the basics in a getting started guide and shared instructions for using YouTube’s TrueView for action ads. Today, we’re taking a look at YouTube’s intent-based audiences.


According to a Google, "YouTube for action is a combination of YouTube features that allow you to focus on driving conversions." These features include TrueView for action ads, which are best paired with intent-based audiences, and improvements to YouTube measurement. We’ll get into measurement in the next post in this series. In this article, we’ll be diving into audiences.

What are intent-based audiences?

Intent-based audiences are audiences that, based on actions they’ve taken online, are more likely to convert. These are audiences that may have searched for high-intent keywords related to your business, visited your website, engaged with your content, shared their contact information with you, or taken other actions that indicate a likelihood to do business with you.

Intent-based audiences can be targeted based on a variety of different actions. Read on to learn more.

Life Events

One way to set up intent-based audiences is based on life events. Things that fall into this category include things like moving homes, getting married, graduating from college, starting a new business, or getting a new pet.

Why are these life events good indicators of likelihood to convert? Because people going through these events often have specific things in common. For instance, someone that’s about to move may have a higher intent to purchase new furniture. Therefore, this audience would be a good target for a mattress company, or a business that sells home furnishings.

According to AdEspresso, targeting according to life events is incredibly effective. "Current Google tests with Sonos found impressive results: a 37.2% increase in purchase intent, a 424.8% increase in branded searches, and a 52.9% increase in ad recall."

In-market Audiences

You can also target in-market audiences, which are audiences that are actively considering buying a product or service. This includes people that have been actively researching or planning to buy everything from apparel and accessories to vehicles, beauty products, business services, travel gear, or other options related to your specific business. In Google Ads manager there’s a whole list of in-market audiences you can choose from.

Custom Intent Audiences

With customer intent audiences, you can target people who are searching for your product or service on With a custom intent audience, you can type in specific search terms to target, rather than checking off a box from a list of products or services.

Remarketing Audiences

Remarketing audiences are great for reengaging with that have already interacted with your business. They include people that have:

  • Visited your website
  • Watched or engaged with your videos
  • Given you their contact information

Similar Audiences

You can also target people that are similar to your existing customers but haven’t interacted with you yet.

How to select intent-based audiences in Google Ads manager

Now we’ll show you how to set up intent-based audiences in Google Ads manager. Before you get to the audience though, you’ll need to start setting up your ad. You can learn more about that in our blog post on getting started with TrueView for action ads.

Once you get to the step of setting up your ad where you’re ready define your Audience, here’s what you’ll see:


Setting up life events, in-market, and custom-intent audiences

To set up the types of audiences we’ve been talking about in this guide, you’ll want to click on "BROWSE." This’ll open up a window where you can see all the different types of targeting options.


Click on "What they are actively researching or planning" to find the first few types of audiences we’ve discussed in this article.


Note: If you haven’t set up any custom intent audiences yet, you’ll need to click on "NEW CUSTOM INTENT AUDIENCE" at the bottom. That’ll open up a window where you can name your audience and enter relevant search terms this audience is using on Google. Once the audience is set up, it’ll show up when you click on "Custom intent audiences" in the list under the "BROWSE" tab.

Setting up remarketing and similar audiences

If you’d like to set up remarketing or similar audiences, click on "How they have interacted with your business" from the "BROWSE" menu.


This’ll open up a window where you can indicate how customers have interacted with you or you can select similar audiences.


Best practices

Here are a couple best practices that YouTube recommends when it comes to using custom-intent audiences.

  • Use separate audience types in separate campaigns. This will allow you to control your budget and to optimize campaigns for each audience type.
  • Use keywords with a volume of at least 1 million monthly queries. This will ensure that there’s a large enough audience for your ad to be successful.

Looking to learn even more about using YouTube for your business? Check out our guide to YouTube Marketing. Plus, check out our list of 21 YouTube video ideas for inspiration for all sorts of content you can create for your YouTube channel. Happy video making!