Demographic Targeting

This week Matt Umbro (@Matt_Umbro) came up with another great question set titled “Demographic Targeting.” The following is the transcribed Streamcap from the live chat:

Q1: From a scale of 1 – 10, how invested are you in demographic targeting throughout all accounts? Why?

  • Becoming more invested by the day – realizing that custom age/gender combos can perform much better. – Matt Umbro
  • Realistically about 1.5. Hoping to pick up some good insights today. – Kyle Crocker (@kacrocker)
  • In Paid Search, we use the income targeting for our niche legal campaigns. In social display: of course. – Doug Thomas (@ferkungamaboobo)
  • 7, it allows us to spend money more wisely by avoiding unprofitable segments. – Scott Garrett (@ScottGarrett89)
  • 8 Making different demos react differently to ads, search differently etc. Gotta give the people what they want! – Sarah Holder (@SHolderBiz)
  • In SEM, a 2. Because so far in my clients I haven’t seen enough conversion difference to make big decisions. – Kirk Williams (@PPCKirk)
  • Extremely invested, demographics allow for a creation of Personas, enabling marketers to reach the right search traffic. – Juan Restrepo (@juanrrestrepo)
  • 4 or 5, far less than social demo targeting. Much more interested in placements for relevancy than inconsistent demos. – Bob Bamber (@bobbable)
  • On the scale, 5 – heavily invested in one account but still discovering applicability in other accounts. – Amy Valleskey (@amy_valleskey)
  • Depends on client & channels. Search less so than social. – Melissa Mackey (@Mel66)
  • More reactive than proactive given lack of trust in AdWords’ segments. Adjust based on the performance of age/gender. – Francis Shovlin (@fmshovlin)
  • 1 – I work on small accounts without enough meaningful data. Just got one a can do this with, so definitely this chat. – Andrea Fine (@AndreaFine)
  • If the volume supports it, then 6. So many other priority targeting options available to consider. – Gil Hong (@Gil__Hong)
  • 8 – Probably more than I should be, but I think it’s more fun than KWs so I spend a lot of time looking at it. – Mark Irvine (@MarkIrvine89)
  • It depends on the channel, strategy, and the message. In FB it is a must Search, its case basis programmatic. – Bryan Gaynor (@BryanGaynor12)
  • Paid Search= 10 for Demographic Keywords like “mens running shoes”. Social= 10 for display & content promotion ads. – James Svoboda (@Realicity)
  • Search 3, haven’t had any noticeable/significant results. – Marina Obsivac (@MarinaObsivac)
  • Age / gender demos don’t do enough for me in display or social. Much more luck with lookalike modeling. – Aviva Downing (@AvivCuriously)
  • 5/10 – Demographic targeting depicts the behavior of a searcher & minute details count to optimize the campaign at pro level. – Selin Gurjar (@selzay)
  • Demographic data will aid conversion rates as marketers can use it to leverage the destination URL’s appeal to that traffic. – Juan Restrepo
  • Mostly using demos in remarketing. Though I always feel unsure how much engines assume when putting people into demo buckets. – Maddie Cary (@MaddieMarketer)

Q2: For those who are hesitant, why is demographic targeting important in paid search?

  • It *could be* a fantastic supplemental way of targeting but still has to grow. I personally don’t see obvious opt decisions. – Kirk Williams
  • Helps scale your campaigns to whose who are more/most likley to be interested. Display has needed this since the beginning. – James Svoboda
  • It’s another way to reach potential consumers! Especially if you are advertising for a niche service or product. – Matt Umbro
  • Is anyone allowed to work in marketing without knowing the answer to this? That’s like asking if keyword choice matters. – Steve Gibson
    • But certainly still important. – Matt Umbro
      • I stand by my comment. Too many people in PPC with no marketing knowledge. This isn’t SEO. – Steve Gibson
    • Well yes – but we went from keywords- and placements-as-proxies to explicit targeting w/ error margins. – Doug Thomas
  • Helps give contextual cues beyond keywords (which may have variable search intent at times). – Gil Hong
  • Just filtering things down to a more relevant/tighter audience – reducing wastage and spend, in theory. – Bob Bamber
  • It gives insights where the right ingredients to optimize the campaign are extracted. The right ad to right audience matters. – Selin Gurjar
  • They work well in conjunction with keywords to really refine your reach to help you target your correct persona. – Scott Garrett
  • It can be important for large scale accounts. Helps segment messaging etc. However, data needs to be more reliable to be useful. – Bryan Gaynor
  • Beyond the basic account optimizations, we find sharing Demo targeting personas with our clients make the info more relatable. – Jason Sexton (@jasonasexton)
  • Our clients are explicitly targeted to people without income, so it’s a natural fit. 3.1% higher CTR, 5¢ cheaper CPC. – Doug Thomas
  • At end of the day, demo targeting is worthless if you can’t make decisions from it. It needs to be more than “this is fun!” – Kirk Williams
    • True that! I have seen so called smart marketers promoting lipstick only to females. Well males can also buy and gift them. – Selin Gurjar
  • Trying to give your most eligible customers the best experience, while using your money where it counts. – Amy Valleskey
  • My [potentially silly] concern is that clients will try to define demos on hunches instead of data. – Kyle Crocker
    • That’s definitely a valid concern – why it’s important to have demo targeting available in Google Analytics. – Matt Umbro
    • Kyle I think they are making reference to actual data on demographics, no hutches for either Paid Search or Paid Social. – Juan Restrepo
  • It definitely helps build a relationship with consumers rather than shouting a message to the crowd. – Sarah Holder
  • Targeted marketing & measurement based upon audience characteristics. Personas should dictate ad spend. – Nicole Mintiens (@Nicole_Mintiens)
  • As direct response marketers we should care about varying cpcs and conv rate across demographics. – JD Prater (@jdprater)

Q3: How dynamic is your ad copy based upon age and gender?

  • I’ll usually qualify those demos with keyword intent before making specific ad copy. i.e. “best holiday gifts for him/her.” – Gil Hong
  • Ought to segment all copy and imagery. In practice, you need to determine where to spend your time or leave for the future. – Doug Thomas
  • Test diff ad copy for gender, etc but be wary of potential for gift shopping, non-fit-into-boxers, etc. Don’t die on that hill. – Kirk Williams
    • Alas, why we as PPC marketers love keywords so much – intent is easy to spot! – Matt Umbro
  • Running a campaign for retirement community where copy is segmented for potential residents vs. their children. – Timothy Jensen (@timothyjjensen)
    • That’s a great idea, I would assume majority of leads would come from the children? – Kirk Williams
      • On search yes, but the older demo actually seems to be heavy FB users (good ad response there). – Timothy Jensen
        • Such a great example of how to use demos well. Don’t ignore them, but test, let the data speak, and THEN act. – Kirk Williams
  • Testing currently to see what we get from it on adgroups with gender specific keywords. – Amy Valleskey
  • It’s hard to filter for demographic data at the SEM level which is why the benefits of demo data are vastly seen in conversions. – Juan Restrepo
  • I don’t know about “dynamic”, but clearly different ages and genders respond differently to images/appeals for many products. – Steve Gibson
  • Only time I’ve ever changed copy for demos is Facebook. You can be more certain that they are indeed in that demo…so not much. – Francis Shovlin
  • I’ll admit I haven’t explicitly tested messaging a certain way to “speak” to a demo. Wonder if others have tried that? – Maddie Cary
  • We only do this in social where we can be reasonably sure the demos are accurate. – Melissa Mackey

Q4: Specifically for Facebook, how granular do you guy with age targeting? Why? And keep in mind that Google uses age ranges where Facebook you can use exact ages.

  • That depends on whether the personas vary by age. Most of the time they don’t so we don’t bother. When I did PPC for tourism, we did get more granular with age targeting. Diff activities appeal to diff ages. – Melissa Mackey
    • Exactly – this is what it comes down to! Social has better, richer demo audience data, so that’s where marketers test it. – Maddie Cary
  • Depends what we’re promoting, but I’ve only ever really done “demos”. Prefer to reduce audience size based on other factors. – Bob Bamber
  • It depends on the strategy, & size of the audience after layering data. With a highly targeted audience, FB can be spendy. – Bryan Gaynor
  • Age doesn’t matter much on FB unless it matters a lot. Usually use it as a lever to scale campaigns unless selling Depends. – James Svoboda
  • Usually 5-10 year ranges, unless a client has a persona with a very percise age which seems to be rare especially with B2B. – Scott Garrett
  • I use a hard age where it means something specific (Ex in some states you need to be 26 to rent a car). Otherwise I play ranges. – Mark Irvine

Q5: When reviewing demographic data, do your potential actions differ from what you would do after reviewing keyword data? Why?

  • Usually it only changes the ad copy approach. KW data is informative, but demo data can help with emotional pulls in ad copy. – Sarah Holder
  • Same range of choices: pause/delete, try different appeal/approach, optimise ads, increase/decrease bids. – Steve Gibson
  • Yes, for demo data you need a longer time period, 6-9 months at least to understand trends and make smart bid adjustments. – Scott Garrett
  • I don’t normally block demos (unless testing), but I will block keywords. – Gil Hong
  • Landing Pages can be optimized for Demographics to big success. Testing opposite hypothesis is a must, espcially for images. – James Svoboda
  • I personally like bid modifiers for this reason. Allows me to bid up incrementally while still maintaining a standard cpc bid. – Orlando Valencia (@ValenciaSEM)
  • It can influence Ad copy and landing page selection/copy/images. Can also influence adding of channels like FB/instagram etc. – Bryan Gaynor 
  • Yes! Different audiences may search in very similar ways. Same keyword intent, but different importance/likelihood to convert. – Maddie Cary

Q6: Do you believe demographic targeting will be more apparent/a higher priority for Google and Bing in the coming years? Why?

  • If they can figure out how to collect it accurately, then yes definitely. – Kirk Williams
  • Yes…hopefully more work to establish accuracy in determining demo info. – Timothy Jensen
  • Yes. Facebook has a huge advantage and they would love to close that gap. – Francis Shovlin
  • Yes, expect increased targeting sophistication on both search and display. – Mark Irvine
    • I’m curious how they are going to get this data tho, they keep trying & failing at social… which is where it happens. On the other hand, Target does insanely great demo targeting & they’re not a social channel. But then, Google/Bing doesn’t really have access to final sales data either! Amazon on the other hand…- Kirk Williams
      • Maybe Amazon should create a display network. Would probably be even better than fb. – Steve Gibson (@stevegibsonppc)
  • I think the priority for transparency amidst privacy concerns will be more apparent. – Gil Hong
  • Bing’s had demo modifiers for… well as long as they’ve been in existence. We all just forgot about ’em. – Aaron Levy (@bigalittlea)
  • Demo targeting will be a high priority because the more targeted the ads/experience, the higher the CTR, the more $ for Google. – Mark Parent (@parentmark)
  • Yes! People want ads that directly appeal to them, and showing the right ad at to the right person is what it’s all about. – Sarah Holder
  • As devices become cheaper, and everyone owns one. Matching will become very targeted. So, yes it’ll become a high priority. – Orlando Valencia
  • Yes, I believe demo bid adjustments should be coming to paid search ASAP. Long over due. – James Svoboda
  • It already is. I think transparency as why data is collected will open audiences to providing correct info. – Bryan Gaynor
  • Interest targeting is the holy grail. If facebook can figure that out, there won’t be a Google display network, IMO. – Steve Gibson
  • Facebook already have their database of demographics. Google/Bing still have a tough journey to captivate demographic segments. – Selin Gurjar

Q7: What resources/tools would help you invest more in demographic targeting and become a better paid search marketer? Why?

  • Search engines need to be able to identify more people by demos. <50% in search for now. – Andy Taylor (@PronouncedAhndy)
  • Better audience data, more investment! Some of my clients use other big data management platforms for display & RLSA targeting. – Maddie Cary
  • Nothing too dramatic. Better data for what we have. More demo options in the future for what we don’t have yet. – Kirk Williams
  • Diverse recruiting and a good CRM system, nothing beats knowing your audience. – Sarah Holder
  • Holy grail is still earnings, not sure Facebook is great at that yet. But PPC changes the day people can target by salary. – Bob Bamber
  • Honestly, more awareness from clients on their prime demos would be nice. – Gil Hong

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More PPCChats

Don’t forget to stay tuned for the next #PPCchat on Tuesday at 12 noon Eastern, 9 am Pacific and 5pm in the UK. Same Chat time, same Chat channel.


Check out the PPCChat Twitter list to see and connect with all current and prior participants.

• Matt Umbro (@Matt_Umbro)
• James Svoboda (@Realicity)
• Paul Kragthorpe (@PaulKragthorpe)
• Aaron Levy (@bigalittlea)
• Amy Valleskey (@amy_valleskey)
• Andrea Fine (@AndreaFine)
• Andy Taylor (@PronouncedAhndy)
• Aviva Downing (@AvivCuriously)
• Bob Bamber (@bobbable)
• Bryan Gaynor (@BryanGaynor12)
• Doug Thomas (@ferkungamaboobo)
• Francis Shovlin (@fmshovlin)
• Gil Hong (@Gil__Hong)
• Jason Sexton (@jasonasexton)
• JD Prater (@jdprater)
• Juan Restrepo (@juanrrestrepo)
• Kirk Williams (@PPCKirk)
• Kyle Crocker (@kacrocker)
• Maddie Cary (@MaddieMarketer)
• Marina Obsivac (@MarinaObsivac)
• Mark Irvine (@MarkIrvine89)
• Mark Parent (@parentmark)
• Melissa Mackey (@Mel66)
• Nicole Mintiens (@Nicole_Mintiens)
• Orlando Valencia (@ValenciaSEM)
• Sarah Holder (@SHolderBiz)
• Scott Garrett (@ScottGarrett89)
• Selin Gurjar (@selzay)
• Steve Gibson (@stevegibsonppc)
• Timothy Jensen (@timothyjjensen)

Targeting People Who Read Streamcaps

This is a guest post by Paul Kragthorpe; works at WebRanking in Minneapolis, Minnesota.
Connect with Paul @PaulKragthorpe, and Google Plus.

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