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Google Analytics 4 Audiences (Definitive Guide)

Last Modified on January 18, 2024

Google Analytics 4 audiences are users who visit your website or your app and that you group based on almost any behavior that matters to you. They’re used to better understand a specific group of users or market to them.

Audiences can vary from a broad category such as all your purchasers to a much more specific and complex one, e.g. purchasers from Atlanta who bought green t-shirts within the last 7 days.

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We’ll look at a few examples to clarify what they are, how to create them, and how to use and analyze them in GA4 to improve your business.

We’ll also reproduce Google’s audiences from their store so you’ll feel confident in using them or creating custom ones on your own.

Here’s what we’ll cover: 

Let’s dive in!

What Are Audiences in Google Analytics

Google Analytics 4 audiences are defined as a group of users who share similarities based on any data relevant to you as the website/app owner.

Commonly shared attributes could be: 

  • Demographics: age, gender, geographic location, interests, etc.
  • Acquisition channels: social media, paid ads, podcasts, campaigns, etc.
  • Purchasing behavior: purchase, add to cart, cart abandonment, etc.
  • Other behavioral data: user interactions such as scroll tracking, etc.

How Do You Set Up an Audience in GA4

There are 2 large groups of Google Analytics 4 audiences: Prebuilt Audiences and Custom Audiences

We’ll look at the 2 ways of creating custom audiences. 

🚨 Note: If you’re interested in creating prebuilt audiences, you can skip to the next section on “How Many Audiences Can I Have in Google Analytics?”.

Go to Admin → Property → Audiences

Then click on New audience.

Creating a new audience

Here you’ll be presented with 2 choices of ways you can create a custom audience:

  1. Creating a custom audience (from scratch)
  2. Modifying Google’s suggestions and templates (some maybe be suitable for you and give you a quick start)
New audience creation page

Whichever path you choose, you’ll be directed to the Audience builder to create and save your audience.

Creating a Custom Audience From Scratch

Let’s create a custom audience. 

We have a sales page for a free course. People can join by submitting a form. But because I haven’t used form submission tracking, I will use our thank-you page to learn more about visitors who joined, which is the audience we’ll create.

The thank-you page confirms those who joined successfully. 

In the Audience builder, select Create a custom audience.

Creating a custom audience

Click Add new

Adding a new condition

In Events, select the page_view event from the dropdown list. 

Selecting the page view event in the audience builder

Click on + Add parameter

Adding a parameter

Go to Custom and select page_location for the parameter.

Selecting the page location parameters

For the condition, we can leave Contains. Then click Apply.

For our example, we only have one thank-you page. If we had more, then we’d have to use less broad conditions. If you have many thank-you pages, choosing Contains will fetch all your pages that include thank-you in the URL.

Contains condition for the parameter

This is your final result:

Result for thank-you page audience illustration

Rename your audience and click Save

You also have a neat option to add a description, for future identification. 

Add audience description in the audience builder

Using Suggestions and Templates

Suggestions 

Under the General tab, you may find Suggested audiences that may be a good fit for your business. You’ll always be able to adjust them to your needs. 

Let’s say that I wanted to target visitors who made a purchase. I can select Purchasers. This is the page I will be led to: 

Suggested purchasers audience

Purchasers are a broad audience because it includes anyone who purchased on an app or website. If that’s what you’re looking for, then you don’t need to change anything. 

If your audience was more refined to include visitors who purchased sunglasses, for example, then you can simply add a parameter to add these additional details. 

In our next example, we’re looking at purchasers who bought a specific product.

To do this, we clicked on + Add parameter.

Adding an audience parameter

Select Other, and from the list of parameters, select item_name.

Selecting the item name parameter

Since we’re not interested in a specific brand of sunglasses but rather any sunglasses, the condition will be “contains.” For the product, we’ll write “Sunglasses.”

Example of a condition for the item_name parameter

Click Apply. Rename your Audience and click Save.

Notice also how the Summary number drops. The narrower and more complex your audience is, the lower the number of users it would be.

The audience summary

Templates

Templates are dimensions/metrics that are widely used for web and app businesses. They can provide extra details about an audience. 

GA4 has 3 templates:

  1. Demographics
  2. Technology
  3. Acquisition

You can find them under the Templates tab.

If your target audience is exclusively made up of purchasers, for example, it’s important to collect further information like their age, language, and location. 

Luckily, GA4 provides a Demographics Template for this particular scenario.

Demographics templates for Google Analytics 4 audiences

No doubt, you can save time and effort with a template.

Key Points to Remember About Google Analytics 4 Audiences

Here are the key points about audiences: 

  1. To get started with audiences, you need at least 30 days of data. The moment you create an audience, GA4 will look at your users who met the audience criteria in the past 30 days.
  1. After you create a new audience, it can take 1 to 2 days for a user to be included in the audience. 
  1. Audiences are not retroactive. An audience accumulates users who meet the specified criteria from the time the audience was created. 
  1. Audience size is often different from remarketing list size. This is usually the case when your Google Ads account isn’t linked. In that case, tracking IDs can’t be sent to Google Ads remarketing list, resulting in these discrepancies.

How Many Audiences Can I Have in Google Analytics

There is a limit of 100 audiences in GA4. This pertains to the total number of audiences including those that are personalized or custom audiences. As for the Pre-built audiences in GA4, there are approximately 25. 

As previously mentioned, there are two categories of Google Analytics 4 audiences:

1) Prebuilt Audiences include: 

  • Predefined audiences
  • Suggested audiences
  • Predictive audiences (or suggested predictive audiences)

2) Custom Audiences include:

  • Any audience you created on your own.

The table below shows their classification and details: 

Predefined audiencesAll users: Users who have ever launched your app or visited your website
Purchasers: Users who have completed a purchase
Suggested audiences7-day unnotified users
Achievers
Billable users
Cart abandoners
Checkout starters
Item searchers
Item viewers
Leads
Registered users
Searchers
Streamers
Top players
Top scorers
Tutorial abandoners
Tutorial finishers
Video completed
Video start
Wishlist users
Predictive audiencesLikely 7-day churning purchasers
Likely 7-day churning users
Likely 7-day purchasers
Likely first-time 7-day purchasers
Predicted 28-day top spenders
Custom audiencesAudiences that you create that satisfy your criteria

Understanding Prebuilt Audiences in Depth

Let’s quickly cover how each GA4’s Prebuilt audiences look and where to find them.

Predefined audiences

Every GA4 account comes with 2 Predefined audiences. 

You can find them by going to Admin → Properties (column) → Audiences

Predefined audiences in GA4

Click on any of them and you will be taken to a brief overview report.

If you’re using the Google merchandise demo account, you can see the audiences they’re using: 

Google Analytics 4 demo account audiences

You can see that my buddy Marc at Google was running some tests with his “test segment marc”. Quick note: I have no idea who Marc is.

Suggested Audiences

For each property, G4 suggests 18 audiences called “Suggested audiences.” 

To learn more about their description and accompanying parameters, please refer to this analytics documentation.

Here are the audiences names: 

  • 7-day unnotified users
  • Achievers
  • Billable users
  • Cart abandoners
  • Checkout starters
  • Item searchers
  • Item viewers
  • Leads
  • Registered users
  • Searchers
  • Streamers
  • Top players
  • Top scorers
  • Tutorial abandoners
  • Tutorial finishers
  • Video completed
  • Video start
  • Wishlist users

🚨 Note: Notice that all 18 of them aren’t available when creating a new audience.

This is because GA4 will only select and show you audiences that Google Analytics considered relevant to your Industry category.

If you’d like to know those for your industry, you’ll have to set up your Industry category (we’ll show you how further down).

In the image below, you’ll notice in the menu that there aren’t 18 audiences. 

Only 5 of them are presented under the General tab. These general audiences are suggested for any GA4 accounts. They are just very common audiences 

General audiences in GA4

Just beside the General menu tab, you’ll find the Job & Education section. 

This tab wasn’t always there. It appears as a result of our selection of the Industry Category as “Job & Education” in our settings. If an Industry Category is not specified in your account’s admin, this tab will be absent. 

The tab displays a list of suggested audiences that are taken from the 18 options available in analytics and that GA4 identified as useful to our business. 

Industry category suggested audiences

To set up your industry category, go to Admin → Property settings → Industry category.

Click Select one, and select your industry category from the dropdown. We use Job & Education.

Industry category section

Predictive audience

Predictive audiences are audiences whose behaviors can be predicted by GA4. Google Analytics uses machine learning to predict those behaviors. 

For an audience to be classified as predictive, it needs to meet certain criteria. 

Specifically, it should be based on at least one predictive metric and meet the three conditions associated with these metrics. As long as these requirements are met, the audience can have any configuration.

Here’s an example.

Let’s say you’re creating an audience that only includes shoppers from Chicago. To achieve this, we’ve used the Geography dimension and the City as User-scoped, resulting in the following:

A custom audience of Chicago buyers

Suppose you are interested in knowing if this audience is likely to churn in 7 days. Since this is about making predictions, you can make this audience into one that is predictive by using one of the Predictive metrics.

To accomplish this, click on the +Add condition group button.

Adding a new condition group

Click on the Add new dropdown.

Scroll down to Metrics Predictive. You’ll see 4 predictive metrics under User-scoped. Select what you need to predict for your audience. In our case, it would be Purchase probability.

The property we’re using for this demonstration doesn’t have enough traffic and therefore isn’t meeting the requirements of these predictive metrics. This is why we see the warning signs. 

Adding a predictive metric condition group

Rename your audience and click the Save button. 

For your reference, Predictive metrics will be made available automatically in GA4 anytime you meet their conditions. However, it is not permanent since it is dependent on certain criteria.

Suggested predictive audiences

GA4 can detect users with the highest probability of churning or purchasing, above the 90th percentile. 

GA4 can predict behaviors to identify users who are the top 10% of purchasers – the cream of the crop. 

The same however applies to those who stop showing interest in your business with you. 

Remember that users who make it to the top 10% can be removed from the Suggested predictive audience. Adding more conditions such as age, region or event count, etc. can eliminate some who could have qualified. 

Here is the list of suggested predictive audiences: 

Likely 7-day churning purchasersPurchasing users who are likely to not visit your property in the next 7 days.
Likely 7-day churning usersUsers who are likely to not visit your property in the next 7 days.
Likely 7-day purchasersUsers who are likely to purchase in the next 7 days.
Likely first-time 7-day purchasersUsers who are likely to make their first purchase in the next 7 days.
Predicted 28-day top spendersUsers who are predicted to generate the most revenue in the next 28 days.

If you’re interested in what their configuration looks like, you can read the Analytics Help Center’s documentation.

Understanding Predictive Metrics

As mentioned earlier, Predictive audiences are possible due to Predictive metrics. Google Analytics 4 offers 3 kinds of predictive metrics:

Purchase ProbabilityThe probability that a user who was active in the last 28 days will log a specific conversion event within the next 7 days.
Churn ProbabilityThe probability that a user who was active on your app or site within the last 7 days will not be active within the next 7 days.
Predicted RevenueThe revenue from all purchase conversions within the next 28 days from a user who was active in the last 28 days.

Criteria: 

  1. To be eligible for Purchase and Churn probability, you need a minimum of 1000 returning users who bought a product and 1000 returning users who stopped using your products (churn). This is within a period of either 7 days or 28 days. 
  1. To remain eligible, your model’s quality for a specified duration has to be maintained. Model quality can be improved by turning on the Modeling contributions & business insights settings and using as many recommended events as possible. Falling below the thresholds for predictive metrics can disqualify your property from being eligible for predictive metrics. You can read more about it here under Best practices.
  1. To be eligible for the purchase probability and predicted revenue metrics, your property has to send the purchase event and/or the in_app_purchase. For the purchase event, you must add the value and currency parameters for this event.

The Case For Following Google’s Events Naming Conventions

It’s okay to use Custom events (with your naming convention), as long as you don’t have too many of them. 

The reason why they should be limited is that they are considered “noise,” which is data that is low-signal and that doesn’t follow standard procedures. 

Since GA’s predictive models use events as structured data and feed it into its models, now we can understand the reason for encouraging (when possible) the use of GA4’s Recommended events when creating events and conversions.

Recommended events (and all other events including Automatically collected events and Enhanced measurement events) are these structured data. 

As we’ve seen above with the purchase event, some events from GA4’s list have to be sent to be eligible for predictive metrics.

Predictive metrics can be used in the Audience builder and Explorations.

Where and How Are Audiences Used

There are 3 places where you can use audiences. These are: 

  • Your GA4 reports (including Explorations)
  • Advertising campaigns 
  • Google Optimize experiments

GA4 reports

Let’s look at 3 ways you can use Audiences in your GA4 reports

Audience Overview

This report is the most basic setup you can have and is the one we saw earlier with the 2 Predefined Audiences available in every GA4 account. 

Follow these steps to find them: Admin → Properties (column) → Audiences

Predefined audiences in Google Analytics 4

After clicking on any of these 2 (or any other audience), you‘ll be sent to a report page with a strict minimum such as the number of Users that visited your site/app, Engaged Sessions, the number of Conversions, and which devices your users used. 

Comparisons

Comparisons in GA4 allow you to filter all your reports based on a portion (subset) of your data. 

For example, rather than viewing reports with values for all your users, you can look at the same reports but only for those who purchased e on your site. You can compare them to all non-purchasers, hence “comparisons.”

In any GA4 report, go to the top right corner and click on the Comparisons icon: 

Clicking the comparisons icon

Then click Add new comparison.

Adding a new comparison

Click on the Select dimension box. In the dropdown list, scroll down to the User section and select the Audience name.

Selecting audience name

Now, go to Dimension values and select Users in San Francisco

Selecting users in the San Francisco audience name

Click OK, then Apply.

Repeat the same process for Users in California. Start by Adding new comparisons, etc.

🚨 Note: The demo account doesn’t have the Users in California audience. We could have built it from scratch ourselves. But to not waste time and for demonstration purposes only, I’ve selected “Purchasers in Canada” as a replacement. Therefore let’s pretend that this Canadian audience of purchasers is the “Users in California” audience. 

You should end up with a result like the following: 

Multiple comparisons added to report

Now let’s remove the All users audience. This way we’ll be only left with Users in San Francisco and Users in California (which is our example alternative taken from Purchasers in Canada). 

You can either remove it in the Edit comparisons, clicking on the 3 vertical dots, then selecting Remove Comparisons. Or simply anywhere in your report, click on the X cross sign for All users. 

Removing comparisons

Let’s analyze the Ecommerce p