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  • Writer's pictureSimon Wells

Demographic Bidding

What Is Demographic Bidding?

Google AdWords demographic bidding is a feature that enables the advertiser to target ads to users of a particular age range (such as ages 25-34), by gender, or to any other combinations.

The advertiser can use demographic bidding whether you are using contextual or placement targeting and with both CPC and CPM bidding. It’s then possible to reach users based on gender and age on certain sites in the Google content network, whose users provide that information about themselves, usually at sign up. Google receives the data in anonymous form from partner sites, which means that users can’t be personally identified but they can be targeted via AdWords ads.

Proper, considered keyword research is vital when constructing any Google AdWords campaign but it’s easy to forget that their users aren’t keywords – they’re people. For example, a 19-year-old girl and a 55-year-old man searching for “shoes” are probably looking for very different products. Google have now enabled advertisers to target age and gender demographics within their search campaigns to help increase or decrease the CPC bids, based on the statistical chance of conversion.

For example: Ad advertiser sells men’s football boots shoes and want their ads to be seen by 18-24 year-old males. They should then raise their bids to increase the frequency with which those users see their ads . At the same time, the advertiser may decide to lower bids against from certain users – if they think that they’re less likely to convert and will drive a higher ROI or CPA. In the case above, the advertiser may find that the female, 18-24 year-old demographic is receiving a significant number of impressions but not clicking-through or converting well, and decide to restrict that group.

To summarise, demographic bidding gives the advertiser more control over the who see your ads by manipulating the desired CPC bid, based on the age and gender of the intended target. By utilising this advanced AdWords feature, it enables you to target the ads to users with statistically more chance of converting and as a result, increase the overall performance of the activity.

How Does Google Determine Demographic Information?

Firstly, it’s worth noting that Google is unable to attribute all searches to a user’s age and gender. Google haven’t always collected this information at sign up for a new account – this only started happening so in 2012 after the launch of Google+. Based on the latest information released, age and gender demographics can only be assigned to around 50%- 60% of all queries.

Due to this, AdWords campaigns utilising demographic bidding with ‘target and bid’ option selected aren’t actually targeting all of the users in those demographics targeted, but just the share that Google is able to attribute to a gender or age.

The following statement from Google also helps understand how they obtain demographic information from their users.

 “When people are signed in using 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 websites might provide us with demographic information that people share on certain websites, such as social networking sites. For people who aren’t signed in to their Google Account, we sometimes infer their demographic information based on their activity from Google properties or the Display Network. For example, when people browse YouTube or sites on the Display Network, Google may store an identifier in their web browser, using a “cookie”. That browser may be associated with certain demographic categories, based on sites that were visited.”

How Is This Implemented?

The demographic targeting tab is found at ad group level of Google AdWords search campaigns within the “Audiences” tab. A subtab named “Demographics” is available and this displays performance data of how different ages and genders perform in that ad group. Advertisers can then use this data to either create bid adjustments for different demographics, or they can exclude certain aged users or genders from seeing their ads by automatically lowering the CPC bid against the relevant audience.

Demographic Combinations

It is also possible to take this one step further by viewing “demographic combinations” as detailed below. Advertisers can utilise this information and dive into a more granular view of how layered demographic options, like women ages 25–34, perform in their search campaigns.

Demographic Targeting Options

The tables below display the available demographic targeting options, based on the platform or network that the campaign activity has been opted into.

Search, Display or Video campaigns can include:

  • Age: “18-24”, “25-34”, “35-44”, “45-54”, “55-64”, “65 or more” and “Unknown”

  • Gender: “Female”, “Male” and “Unknown”

Display or Video campaigns can also include:

  • Parental status: “Parent”, “Not a parent” and “Unknown”

Best Practices for Using Search Demographic Targeting

Now that you should have some basic understanding of demographic bidding on Google AdWords, we’ve summarised some “best practices” below that should assist you driving a higher ROI if managed correctly.

Don’t Assume.

It’s important not to assume which audience demographic will perform best for you. For instancedid you know that 40% of baby products bought online were purchased by males? While you may have an idea of the best age groups and gender that may make the most sales, it’s important to study the data and make decisions based on facts rather than hunches. You may find that although you sell less to one audience, that they are actually driving a lower CPA or higher ROI. Study the AdWords data and any additional Analytics or external sales information to help determine the most relevant bid adjustment for each audience.

Tailor Your Ad Copy

As mentioned earlier, a man and a woman both searching Google for “shoes” are looking for two different types of shoe. It’s best practice to create two separate ad groups, one targeting men and the other women which enables you can serve different ads to different users, each promoting the relevant brand or type of shoe they may be interested in, and also directing the click to a relevant landing page featuring the relevant footwear.

Don’t Exclude The “Unknown”

AdWords can’t know or infer the demographics of everyone. “Unknown” refers to people whose age, gender, parental status or household income they haven’t identified. Remember, these users are still displaying intent by the very nature of their search and by excluding these users, you are restricting your ad delivery substantially. A better option is to tailor a specific bid adjustment which reflects the contribution of these users. The bid adjustment should be relevant to the data gained via the demographics tab as discussed earlier.


Google AdWords demographics bidding is a vital tool and must be included in your overall PPC strategy. It’s important to review and amend your bid amendments frequently, based on the information gathered from various sources such as AdWords itself, Google Analytics, other PPC platforms such as Facebook and Bing and any external sources such as sales reports or internal data.

We highly recommend taking advantage of these targets and to start beginning to collect data on how different demographic groups interact you’re your site and what contribution they make to overall sales and revenue. 

If you would like a helping hand with configuring your PPC strategy to incorporate demographic bidding, or any other element of PPC advertising, then please contact us for a free, no obligation PPC review and consultation with one of our PPC Experts.

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