Shopify Audiences: Give Your Ad Campaigns A Boost With This New Tool

Doki Nguyen
Jun 14, 2024
3 min read

A great advertising campaign is nothing without a well-constructed audience. It’s the only way to ensure that your marketing messages are being put in front of your ideal consumers. It can, however, be a challenge to get new eyes on your products and expand the reach of your campaigns whilst remaining relevant.

Shopify Audiences takes the pain out of this conundrum, providing merchants with a solution to present their ad campaigns to new eager audiences.

What is Shopify Audiences?

Shopify Audiences is an app that helps merchants find new, high-intent customers for ad campaigns in Shopify Admin.

The app uses aggregated data from a shared audience network and machine learning to assemble the perfect potential customers. These audiences can then be exported for use in targeted ad campaigns via Facebook and Instagram. You also get access to reports to track performance.

Currently, Shopify Audiences is only available to Shopify Plus merchants that are based in the US and Canada, and use Shopify Payments. Audience lists are made up of customers in the US and Canada only.

Shopify has already announced plans to expand Audiences to other ad platforms like TikTok, Snap, and Pinterest. Whilst the company hasn’t specifically mentioned making it available for YouTube and Twitter ads, it wouldn’t be too much of a stretch to assume that will happen in the future. Particularly as Shopify recently integrated with Twitter shopping and YouTube shopping.

Leverage holiday sales with Boost

How Does Shopify Audiences Work?

How Audiences are Built and Used

Shopify Audiences essentially builds lookalike audiences to be the target of your product’s advertisements. It’s able to do this thanks to its shared audience network.

Once merchants begin using Shopify Audiences, they automatically allow it to access information on purchased products in their store. It collects specific data such as price, color, and type. This allows the app to employ an algorithm that matches relevant, high-intent customers across its network to the product you want to build an audience for.

To build an audience, you simply select the product you’d like to run ads for. Shopify Audiences will provide a list of customers that are most likely to purchase based on its algorithm.

shopify audiences select product to create lookalike audience

(Source: Shopify Blog)

The audiences created in this tool won't include your current customers. The idea is to get fresh eyes for the products in your store.

Once your list has been built, it can then be exported to Facebook and Instagram so you can run ads to target this audience. You can take your ad targeting further by creating a lookalike audience based on a Shopify Audience list on Facebook.

Shopify Audiences’ Attribution Model

Another important feature of Shopify Audiences is its reporting. It uses a unique attribution model to deliver more accurate insights into the efficacy and performance of ad campaigns.

Whilst your ads are running, Shopify Audiences checks the email addresses of processed orders and sees if there’s a match within an audience list. If there is, it will attribute the purchase to Shopify Audiences. The app will continue to do this up to 7 days after your ad campaign ends.

Shopify also attempts to avoid miscrediting a purchase to the ad campaign by identifying unrelated orders.

When you're running a targeted ad campaign, there’s a chance that someone on the list will purchase a product without having laid eyes on the ad. This can cloud the accuracy of your performance data.

To combat this, Audiences uses statistical sampling to gauge the number of customers who could fall into this category. They are then excluded from order totals and referred to as unrelated orders.

In case you run multiple ad campaigns utilizing multiple audiences, there are also measures to avoid overlap in reporting. Overlap occurs as a customer can appear in more than one audience list. This means that one order can be attributed to multiple audiences, again clouding your reports.

To tackle this, overlapping orders are split equally between audiences for duplicate-free data. For instance, if a customer is in 3 of your audiences and places an order, each audience will be attributed ⅓ of the order and sales amount. You can check the amount of overlapped orders in the Resolved overlap section of reports.

shopify audiences avoid overlapping data

(Source: Shopify Blog)

Is Data Protected in Shopify Audiences?

In short, absolutely! Shopify ensures that both your data and customer data are protected. There are a number of ways the platform does this.

Privacy and control

shopify audiences privacy

To keep customers anonymous, customer information is hashed before sending to the app. It compares the hashed information with the hashed audience to deliver the ad to the intended audience.

Customers are further protected with automatic erasing. When a customer’s personal data is erased from a store, it will automatically be taken off from Shopify Audiences. Additionally, customers are able to find out whether their personal data is being used in Shopify Audiences upon request.

This protection is carried over to the advertising platforms. Lists are exported securely and can not be downloaded via Facebook or Instagram. In fact, the raw data given to Meta is matched to their records and deleted right after.

Merchants using Audiences are equally protected and have control. As mentioned, merchants who use Shopify Audiences automatically opt-in to share certain store and customer data to support audience creation. You are, however, able to opt-out at any time.

The confidentiality of your store is also ensured. Information regarding which stores are using Shopify Audiences isn’t available via the platform. Neither can you create audiences based on a particular store’s customer data.

Moreover, each merchant will never contribute more than 5% of the overall customer pool in Shopify Audiences. This prevents users from reverse engineering an audience to match a competitor's customer list.

Legislative compliance

shopify audiences legislative compliance

As Shopify Audiences deals with customers and businesses based in the US and Canada, it’s been built to comply with the privacy laws of these regions.

In order to adhere to the California Consumer Privacy Act (CCPA), you must tell your customers how you use and disclose their personal information. Shopify has created a template which references Shopify Audiences to help you meet this requirement.

CCPA also gives their citizens the right to request to see what information of theirs is being used, and which third-party apps are using them. As we mentioned earlier, this is possible with Shopify Audiences.

According to Canada’s Personal Information Protection and Electronic Documents Act (PIPEDA) citizens need to be given the ability to opt out. Users of Shopify Audiences can manage opt-outs automatically or manually.

To automatically exclude customers that have opted out of data sharing, you need to use Shopify’s Customer Privacy app. It syncs with Shopify Audiences, so when someone opts out, they are instantly removed from lists.

If you’re not using this app you’ll need to follow these steps to exclude customers manually:

  1. In Shopify Admin, go to Settings > Apps and sales channels
  2. Select Shopify Audiences, then click Open App
  3. Click Customer opt-out and input the email of the customer you want to opt-out
  4. Hit Submit

Customers you exclude in this way are removed from future audience lists only.

Read more: E-commerce Security: Things Shopify Merchants Should Know and Follow

Why Use Shopify Audiences?

Adapts to privacy measures and regulations

With data protection becoming an increasingly important concern among consumers, governments and tech providers alike are responding to this. In addition to regulations around data sharing, third-party cookies are set to be a thing of the past.

Apple’s recent iOS updates placed restrictions on third-party apps accessing customer data, and Google will put an end to third-party cookies by 2023. These changes leave marketers scratching as to how to find relevant audiences for marketing campaigns.

Related read: Apple iOS 15 updates e-Merchants should know (+4 Ideas for New Marketing Strategy)

The Shopify Audiences platform responds to changes like these by making use of and sharing first-party data. This is what their customer pool is made out of. Plus, the ability to build lookalike audiences via Facebook effectively stretches your reach even further in the wake of restrictions.

happy hippo | shopify audience success case study

We can take a look at Happy Hippo to see just how valuable lookalike audiences are in this current climate. After running a lookalike campaign, the brand increased its new-to-brand customer rate by 86% and conversions received a 200% boost.

We’re sure to see more governments employ data protection measures for their citizens, and the platform to expand to territories with existing regulations. Shopify Audiences is built with privacy in mind, so you’ll be able to comply wherever you operate.


High converting, well-targeted audiences usually come at a high cost. Moreover, acquiring new customers is becoming more pricey as more brands turn to platforms like Facebook for advertising.

To access Shopify Audiences, you just need to be a Shopify Plus store. There are no extra costs to use it, it’s free! This helps merchants save ad bucks whilst maintaining high-intent audiences that convert. But don’t just take our word for it. BlenderBottle has been able to get its return on ad spend as high as 6x and Happy Hippo lowered acquisitions costs by 72%.

Transparent and accurate insights

In Shopify Audiences, you have access to two reports; Overview report and Detailed report. The overview report paints a picture of the impact Audiences has had on your store, providing information on total orders and sales across all audiences. The detailed report aims to help you understand the effectiveness of each generated audience. You can find out:

  • how many orders and sales came from the audience
  • the average order value
  • the products most purchased by customers in the audience
  • the estimated number of new customers to your store that are in the selected audience
shopify audiences reports

Reports in Shopify Audiences

Rather than providing campaign-level data, Shopify Audiences gives you access to audience-level data. This unique and transparent approach to reporting means you’ll get a better understanding of how well Shopify Audiences is actually doing. Thereby, it allows you to direct your ad spend to marketing tactics that drive conversion.

The attribution model used by Shopify Audiences also heightens accuracy. In fact, L’AMARUE found that its attribution to Shopify Audiences was within 5% of Shopify Plus' reporting. This allowed them to effectively A/B test and identify the campaign creative that world best with consumers.

Handy Tips For Using Shopify Audiences

If you’re feeling the urge to give this tool a go, here are some tips to help you get the most out of it.

  • Create your audience on the same day you plan to start your ad campaign. This will ensure you’re using the most up-to-date data.
  • One audience should receive one ad set. Don’t target the same audience with multiple ads as this can cause overlap.
  • For A/B testing, make sure that:some text
    • The audience in the comparison campaign are people from the US and Canada only
    • Your existing customers are excluded from the audience in the comparison campaign
    • The ad budget for each ad campaign is proportional to the size of each ad campaign's audience

Get New Eyes On Your Products

Shopify is consistently adding to their arsenal of tools to support its merchants. With the addition of Shopify Audiences, Shopify Plus merchants now have a simple way to acquire new customers. It’s proving to be a useful tool with merchants crediting it to improve their ad performance.

It also looks like the only way is up. By using machine learning, the app’s ability to create audiences will become even better. Plus, Shopify has already stated that it plans to integrate with TikTok, Snap, Pinterest, Microsoft Advertising, Criteo, and others.

Your ad campaigns and products deserve some love from new admirers. Shopify Audiences seems to be a great vessel, providing free and simple access to fresh shoppers.

Doki Nguyen
Content Marketing Specialist
June 25, 2024
5 min read