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  • Gonen Lifshitz

AdWords Demographic Targeting - Is it Real?

The race for precision marketing is on, and Google AdWords is loosing in the demographic targeting battle-fields. Assuming Google knows everything about users’ demographics (age & gender) based upon browsing behavior, website topics & interests and mostly, social activities and profiles by taking under consideration that Google bots crawl all social networks' pages. We would expect that AdWords demographic targeting will be as precise as possible (at least as Facebook) and lead the industry.


While Google analytics tends to provide valuable demographic information, AdWords is missing it’s functionality in this field and prevent advertisers to target users by age & gender. Based on Google Analytics, I know the demographic profiling of my website's visitors & converting users, but I can’t target these profiles to acquire new users via AdWords.


Let me backup my thesis...

These are demographic reports for 'Search Only' campaigns I manage covering last 30 days.





These figures reflects data of 224,705 clicks.


According to AdWords, "With demographic targeting in AdWords, you can reach a specific set of potential customers who are likely to be within a particular age range, gender, parental status, or household income”.


Additional “Important" note from AdWords:



{Don’t do that, you will be left we zero traffic}


So the required question is: 


How Does Google determines demographic information?


Well, according to Google:"When people are signed in from their Google Account, we may use demographics derived from their settings or activity on Google properties, depending on their account status. Consumers can edit their demographic information by visiting Ads Settings. In addition, some sites might provide us with demographic information that people share on certain websites, such as social networking sites.”

So what is going on? Why would AdWords disable this?

Disclaimer:The funny thing is that Google know more demographic information about converting users. So I made a test Search campaign targeting male ages 25-34. It generated no impressions (because it just doesn't work).




Possible conclusions:

  • Try to use AdWords demographic targeting only if you have different offering & funnels to different ages and genders

  • If you must have demographic differantiations in your AdWords efforts, test them is different campaigns

  • AdWords demographic reporting is totally different between Search and Display campaigns - another good reason not to run hybrid campaigns


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