How do I create a Lookalike Audience?

Lookalike Audiences is yet another powerful tool Outbrain provides that enables you to narrow in on the most engaged and scalable audience for your content. By mirroring the behavioral patterns of your existing customers, Lookalike Audiences will dynamically seek out other users who are more inclined to perform the actions you intend.

Lookalike Audiences can be built from Custom Audiences previously created in your dashboard or by integrating audience lists from 1st party data providers. Note: this option is only available if you already have access to a 1st party data provider.

Watch our walkthrough video to learn more or scroll down for the complete guide.

Build Lookalike from Custom Audience Segment

Custom Audiences are a great way to pool together users who have visited your site, made a purchase, or even viewed a previous Outbrain campaign.

To start, head to the “Audiences” tab, where all of your current audience segments are stored. Click “Create Lookalike” at the top of the page to open the Lookalike menu.

Select your Custom Audience segment from the drop-down menu. If the segment is too small to build from, the option will be grayed out.

Select the combinations of location and device that you wish to target. You can select up to six combinations per Lookalike segment. If a combination isn’t available, this means there isn’t enough data yet in your seed segment for us to model that combination.

Once you’ve selected your combinations, you will see your “Potential Reach.” This tells you how many people are currently available across your combinations. You can adjust the similarity percentage by dragging the yellow circle left or right, and the “Potential Reach” will update accordingly. We recommend starting with a 5% audience similarity, which will give you a precise audience match while maintaining scale.

Finally, you’ll see the expected creation time – which will take about 2-3 hours – and your Lookalike name. This is automatically populated from your seed segment and combination selection but can be changed by clicking on the pencil icon. After reviewing any changes you made, click “Save”.

Your segment will now be available to view in the main “Audiences” dashboard. To review the list of combinations and potential reach, you can click the expand button at any time.

Targeting a Campaign to a Lookalike Audience

In the main dashboard view, select the campaign you wish to add the Lookalike segment to and click the pencil icon to open up that campaign’s settings. You can also add Lookalike Audiences to new campaigns when creating them.

Scroll down to the “Include Audience Segments” field in the Targeting section and select your Lookalike Audience. By hovering over the segment, you can see which combinations were selected.

If you see a clock icon next to the Lookalike name, this means the segment is still collecting data. You can still target your campaign to the segment and the campaign will launch when the segment is fully prepared. To the right, the Reach Estimator will show your projected monthly reach using the Lookalike Audience and any other targeting options you have chosen.

Finally, make sure to select some or all of the locations that correspond to the combinations within your Lookalike. Lookalike Audiences are not able to target a global audience, and you won’t be able to save your segment selection unless it matches some or all of the combinations you chose.

Once you have made all the necessary changes to your campaign’s settings, go ahead and click “Save”.

Important to Note

  • Start with a higher CPC than you would for a run-of-network campaign, and make sure to consider the size of your segment when deciding what to choose. The more similar the audience, the smaller the scale. If you choose a 1% audience similarity, the CPC should be higher than a 15% audience similarity.
  • Try building a Lookalike with several different combinations (of device and location), then create multiple campaigns to target individual devices or locations. This allows you to test what works best, all using the same Lookalike.
  • Rather than adding a Lookalike segment to an existing run-of-network campaign, it’s best to duplicate the existing campaign and start fresh with a new copy.
  • Currently, Lookalike Audiences only supports the primary language in each available country. See if your country and language qualify.
  • If you disable the audience segment that your Lookalike was built from, it won’t affect the Lookalike segment. However, adding new users to your seed segment will affect the Lookalike segment, since the segment updates dynamically.
  • You can create up to five Lookalike segments per seed segment, can select up to six combinations per Lookalike segment, and can target up to three Lookalike segments per campaign.
  • You cannot duplicate a Lookalike segment from a starting audience segment using the same similarity percentage. For example, you cannot create two distinct Lookalikes at 5% similarity from the same seed segment.
  • If you work with a 1st party data provider, you can create a Lookalike Audience based on your 1st party data segment at no extra cost. However, if you include your 1st party data segment in your targeting, you will incur a $0.20 fee per click. In order to send your 1st party data through to Outbrain, you may need your Outbrain marketer ID, which can be found in your dashboard URL.

Last but not least, if you have any questions about how Lookalike Audiences works or how to optimize your Lookalike campaigns, don’t hesitate to ask us.

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