A Guide To Google Analytics 4 Audiences

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Setting up custom audiences in Google Analytics 4 can take your analytics setup to the next level. While audiences were previously used for just PPC teams, other verticals can take advantage of the audience customization that GA4 offers. 

Custom audiences allow you to categorize users by dimensions, metrics, and events. With many ways to create subsets of users, you can track audiences relevant to your business and goals. 

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Adding a New Audience

The setup of custom audiences occurs in the Audiences section located in the Admin settings. GA4 allows you to create up to 100 custom audiences in one property. Audiences you create in GA4 can also be used when setting up campaigns in Google Ads, but that’s not all they’re for.

Audiences section in the Admin panel

1. New audience → Create a custom audience

create a custom audience button

If you don’t want to start completely from scratch, you can also create audiences from GA4’s premade templates.

                  templates feature in custom audience tool

2. Name and briefly describe your audience  

If you are unsure what type of audience you want to create, you can return to this step after exploring the filter options. 

3. Establish the scope 

When setting up your custom audience, you can choose from three different scopes:

 Across all sessions, Within the same session, and Within the same event

The Across all sessions scope is the most inclusive scope and will account for user data across multiple sessions.

The Within the same session scope only collects user data for one session. And finally, the narrowest scope, Within the same event, only looks at user data from a single event. 

        person icon to click for audience scope options

the three audience scope options

4. Select Add new condition, explore the events/dimensions/metrics you can filter your audience by, and then select the relevant condition. 

the add new condition drop-down menu

the pop-up window when add new condition drop-down menu is clicked

5. Add any parameters or additional conditions 

With one condition, your custom audience will likely be too broad. To narrow down your audience even more you can add parameters and additional conditions. 

the add parameter button the add parameter pop-up window for the percent_scrolled parameter

 To add additional conditions, you can use the OR/AND functions. 

the OR/AND condition buttons

As you add additional parameters and conditions, be sure to monitor the summary box on the right side of the screen to see how much you are narrowing down your audience. 

the summary box for custom audiences

6. Edit additional audience settings (optional) 

The audience builder defaults the time frame users stay in the audience to 30 days. A user will be removed from the                    audience if they do not meet the audience criteria again in the span of 30 days. The maximum membership duration allowed is 540 days. 

the additional audience settings panel showing the default membership duration of 30 days

You can also add audience triggers. This feature allows you to trigger an event when users match the criteria of an audience.          For example, if your audience criteria is set to spend at least 5 minutes on a page, you can create a trigger that will record an event name of your choice every time a user spends 5 minutes or more on a page. 

an example of an audience trigger called significant_time_spent

The event is then available for you to access in all GA4 reports. 

7. Save your new audience

              the save button for when you are ready to save your custom audience  

Another possible way to build an audience is through a sequence. This feature can be helpful if you want to analyze audiences that complete a specific order of actions. 

Setting up a sequence: 

1. Add sequence to include 

the add sequence to include button

2. Add a condition/parameter 

3. Add step 

the add step button for sequences

4. Decide if you want the step to directly or indirectly follow the previous step 

the drop-down menu to decide if the next step will directly or indirectly follow the previous step

5. Continue adding the number of steps you want 

6. Save new audience 

Examples of Custom Google Analytics 4 Audiences 

Returning Users 

A key audience you likely want to track is returning users to your site. Understanding who comes back to your site can help you distinguish users with high interest in your company and discover which pages users often come back to. 

Steps for this audience: 

1. New audience → Create a custom audience

2. Name/describe the audience

a textbox describing the custom audience of returning users

3. Add new condition → session_start 

the include users when session_start condition

4. Add parameter → Event count

     a. Condition = greater than (>)

     b. Value =  1 

     c. Apply 

the condition parameter of greater than 1 session_start

5. Add additional conditions/parameters 

If you want to get more detailed, you could add the name of a specific page you want to monitor returning users on. 

AND → Add new condition → page_view → page_title → Condition → exactly matches → (enter your page title name). 

the additional condition of page_view added to the returning users example

6. Save your new audience  

High Page Views No Conversions 

An audience you might want to track is users who view multiple product pages on your website but do not complete a conversion. Analyzing this target audience can help you uncover common places where no conversions happen and allow you to discover new strategies for driving more conversions. 

Steps for this example:  

1. New audience → Create a custom audience 

2. Name/describe the audience 

the text box for naming the high page view no conversions audience

 3. Add new condition → page_view 

 4. Add parameter → page_location → contains → ‘product’ 

the page_location parameter that contains product

5. Select AND 

6. Add new condition → page_view  

7. Add parameter → Event count  

                 a. Condition = greater than (>) 

                 b. Value = 3 

                 c. Apply 

      event count parameter of greater than 3 page views       

8. Add a group to exclude 

a. Once you have your condition set up, you want to make sure you are excluding all user actions that are considered                              conversions. To do this you first select Add group to exclude.  

add group to exclude button b. Then, you select Add new condition and search for the name of your conversion event

c. Next, select OR 

d. Repeat adding new conditions until all your conversion names are added to the exclude box. 

the custom audience dashboard once all excluded conversions are added

9. Save your new audience 

Cart Abandonments 

If your site is for an ecommerce business, cart abandonments is a key audience you will likely want to track.

1. New audience → Create a custom audience 

2. Name/describe the audience 

text description for the cart abandoners audience

3. Add new condition → add_to_cart 

the add_to_cart condition

4. Add group to exclude 

5. Add new condition → Event name

6. Add parameter → Condition → exactly matches → ‘purchase’ 

the exclude condition for users who make a purchase

7. Save new audience 

Audience Explorations 

Exploration reports are another great way to analyze the performance of audiences. Using an exploration such as Path exploration allows you to learn more about the user journey of your target audiences. 

Steps for adding audiences to your explorations: 

1. ExplorationsChoose an exploration type 

                     I chose Path exploration.

2. Segments → ‘+’ button  

      the segments button in GA4 explorations       

Segments are only available to use in explorations. If you want your audience to also be available to use in the standard report types, you can select Build an audience.

      the build an audience button in explorations      

3. Create a custom segment → User segment 

the user segment option in explorations

4. Complete the steps for adding a new audience (as outlined above) 

5. Save and apply 

the save and apply button

6. Add your segment in the Segment column to filter your exploration by your custom audience 

the button to add a segment to an exploration

Audiences Report

At the beginning of August 2023, GA4 unveiled the Audiences report which can be found under User Attributes in the Reports section. 

the audiences report location in navigation panel

This report is the hub for all your custom audiences. The Audiences report allows you to easily compare and evaluate the performance of your different audiences. 

the standard audience report dashboard in GA4

You can also filter other standard report types by custom audience. For example, I could filter a Landing page report to just show landing pages of my custom audience. 

To do this, first open the Customize report tool (the pencil icon in the top right corner). Then, click Add filter → Dimension →  Audience Name →  exactly matches → (choose the name of a custom audience from the drop-down menu) → Apply. 

the window for filtering by a specific audience name


Using Google Analytics 4 audiences is an easy way to elevate your reporting. Based on audience analysis in GA4, you can develop audience-focused marketing strategies, improve the customer experience on your site, and personalize your content for your target audiences.  

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