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About demographic targeting

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. For instance, if you run a fitness studio exclusively for women, demographic targeting could help you avoid showing your ads to men.

Before you begin

Keep in mind that demographic targeting is an option to narrow your targeting. In other words, it helps prevent people outside of the your chosen demographics from seeing your ads.

Demographic targeting options

Demographic targeting for 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"

Demographic targeting for Display or Video campaigns can include:

  • Parental status: "Parent," "Not a parent," and "Unknown"

Demographic targeting for Video campaigns can include:

  • Household income (currently available in the U.S. only): “Top 10%,” “11-20%,” “21-30%,” “31-40%,” “41-50%,” “Lower 50%,” and “Unknown”

"Unknown" category

AdWords can't know or infer the demographics of all people, and most websites don't provide demographic information for their customers. “Unknown” refers to people whose age, gender, parental status, or household income we haven’t identified.

In addition, some websites on the Display Network opt out of demographic targeting, so if you want to show your ads on those sites, leave the "Unknown" category selected. When you target by a type of demographic, the "Unknown" demographic category is selected by default because you can reach a significantly wider audience.

Important

Exclude the "Unknown" demographic category only if you're sure you want to restrict your campaign to a narrow audience. Excluding "Unknown" might prevent a substantial number of people from seeing your ads, some of whom you might want to reach.

How Google determines demographic information

When people are signed in from their Google Account, we may use location signals and demographics derived from their settings. 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.

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.

Example

Sarah's favorite hobby is gardening. Many of the gardening sites and blogs on the Display Network that she visits have a majority of female readers. Based on this, Sarah's browser (when she’s not signed in from her Google account) could be added to the "female" demographic category. As a result, Google may show Sarah ads from advertisers who have chosen to show their ads to women.

When Sarah’s signed in from her Google account, Google may show her ads based on selections she made in her Ads Settings, including her demographic information.

Mobile app demographics: This targeting feature uses an advertising identifier linked to a customer's mobile device to remember which apps the person has used. We might associate the identifier with a demographic category based on web browsing and app activities on a mobile device.

Keep in mind that we aren't able to gather or infer demographic information from everyone using the web or mobile apps, so if you narrow your targeting with multiple specific demographic groups, your ads may reach a more limited audience.

Refine your strategy

  • Targeting. Demographic targeting can be combined with other targeting strategies.
  • Exclusions. You can also exclude demographic categories so you don’t show your ads to certain demographics.
  • Customize your bids. While still showing your ads everyone, you can place higher (or lower) bids for a certain demographic group.

Examples of effective demographic targeting

Age. Marc is advertising for a financial institution, and he wants to market different products to seniors versus college students. He uses demographics to show different ads to each group of customers and adjusts his bids for demographic groups that may be more likely to spend more. Marc finds that middle-aged customers tend to have the largest initial deposits, and increases his bid for people ages 35 to 54.

Household income. In a video campaign, Marc can show ads to customers in a certain household income range. Marc sets his targeting to reach people in the top 30% of U.S. household incomes, by selecting the “Top 10%,” “11-20%,” and “21-30%" options for household income.

Age and gender. Alberta runs a website whose audience is working mothers. On the Search Network, her demographic targeting is the “25–54” age range and “Female” gender. On her Display Network campaigns, she specifies “Parent” parental status as targeting criteria. A savvy advertiser, Alberta also adds a targeting method of “in-market audience” for Baby & Children's Products.

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