GA4 Audience Guide: How to Create and Use Audiences

January 18, 2023

Once you have your foundational Google Analytics (GA4) measurement functioning, you can start to build out other features to act upon your data. Audiences is a powerful GA4 feature that harnesses user behavior, allowing you to analyze and market to subsets of your wider audience.

GA4 Audience Types

There are two types of audiences that you can use in GA4: Predictive Audiences (built by GA4 based on your data) and Custom Audiences (configurable, much like segments in Universal Analytics/GA3). Take a look by navigating to Admin > Configure > Audiences > Create Audience.

Screenshot showing the two types of audiences that you can use in GA4: Predictive Audiences (built by GA4 based on your data) and Custom Audiences.
Audience Types
Screenshot GA4 Audience types
Out-of-the-Box Predictive Audiences
Screenshot of GA4 out-of-the-Box Predictive Audiences
Example Custom Audiences

GA4 Audience Limitations 

As with any new feature, there are a few limitations to consider when working with GA4 Audiences. Current limitations include:

  • Audience Limits:
    • A limit of 100 audiences per property
    • A limit of 20 audience-trigger events per property

Note: If these limits are reached, audiences can be archived.

  • Time needed to build lists:
    • It can take 24-48 hours for the audience to accumulate users
    • It can take 24-48 hours for GA4 to add a new user to an audience based on the specified criteria

Note: GA constantly analyzes audience memberships to determine if it can add a new user or remove a current user based on the criteria set

How to Build Custom Audiences in GA4

Follow to steps below to build Custom Audiences in GA4:

Screenshot showing steps on how to build Custom Audiences in GA4.
Audience Configuration
  1. Give the audience a descriptive name and add a more in-depth description if needed.
  2. Set the condition scoping. This is highly dependent on what you want to track: 
Screenshot on condition scoping when building Custom Audiences in GA4.
Audience Condition Scoping
  1. Add audience details using Events, Dimensions, and Metrics. This includes AND and OR conditions that help further refine this audience. You can add sequencing and exclusions as well. 
Screenshot showing where to add audience details using Events, Dimensions, and Metrics when building custom audiences in GA4.
Audience Criteria – Dimensions and Metrics
Screenshot of Audience Criteria - Sequencing when building Custom Audiences in GA4.
Audience Criteria – Sequencing
Screenshot of Audience Criteria - Exclusions when building Custom Audiences in GA4.
Audience Criteria – Exclusions
  1. You can define Membership Duration for the audience next. This will depend on your business’ sales or marketing cycles. How long do you want to keep this audience in a group for analysis or activation? You can choose 7 days, 14 days, 30 days or all the way up to the max of 540 days (18 months) from the time the user was added to the audience list.
  2. Audience Triggers add yet another layer for refining your audience and allow a new event to be sent when the audience criteria are met (similar to being able to create a custom conversion event based on an event and specific parameters). Checking the box below depends on how you’d like to use the audience you’ve created, and it may not be applicable to you. 
Screenshot of Audience Triggers in GA4.
Audience Triggers
  1. The Summary shows how many users make up the audience you’ve created and what percentage they are of your total traffic. This is similar to estimates given by Segments in UA. Once you’ve configured the audience, you should save it. 

Below is an example of a built-out audience. In this example, the audience (and audience trigger) can be set to fire based on simple thresholds. You can see users who interacted with a Page Path containing “blog” and eventually went to a subsequent page with a Page Path containing “contact” within a 10-minute timeframe. Users will stay in this audience for 30 days and have an audience-triggered event called audience_blogTHENcontact.   

Screenshot of GA4 Audience Configuration example
Example Audience Configuration

How to Use GA4 Audiences

Much like analyzing data in UA using Segments, Audiences allow you to break down your data into smaller, more meaningful groups. You can add them to Reports, Explorations, and give them reports of their own (once you create the audience, click into it by navigating to Admin > Configure > Audiences). The biggest difference here is that Audiences in GA4 are more powerful, customizable, and dynamic compared to UA.

Screenshot of Example Custom Audiences in Google Analytics 4.
Example Custom Audiences
Screenshot Example Custom Audience Report in Google Analytics 4 (GA4).
Example Custom Audience Report

You may already know about the benefits of linking various Google Marketing Platform tools like Data Studio, Ads, DV360, SA360, Optimize, and more to activate on audiences. With a product like Google Ads linked to the GA4 property, GA4 audiences will be automatically available in Google Ads to use for remarketing and/or prospecting. 

If you have questions about GA4 and/or audiences, please reach out to Adswerve. And keep an eye on the Adswerve blog as we share more recommendations, features, and updates in the coming weeks and months.