Using settings on Adwords to target age demographics

Generating optimised leads had been an issue for one of our online businesses partners until recently. A quick tweak of the demographic targetting turned it around.

Adwords demographic targeting by age is available through the Display but not the Search Network

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Our partner was using Google Adwords to produce property investment leads. Poor results will focus marketers to look into the cause, but this isn't always as clear as one would like.

A constant complaint was that people of the wrong age demographic were clicking on the ads.

How rude of them, right?

In summary, this was his situation as he presented it:

  • He was spending much more than he wanted on a conversion
  • He wanted to reduce the amount he was spending on poor leads
  • To still generate at least the same amount of leads over the same period of time

The initial steps to review the visitor types

Firstly, we analysed the data and started thinking about the kind of visitor the ad was attracting. We then compared this profile to the type of visitor he actually wanted. The final aspect was to focus in on aspects of the Adwords dashboard that would enable that change.

In this particular business, he wants to generate leads from homeowners of particular age group i.e. 30 to 65. However, this Adwords campaign was also generating a high percentage of leads from homeowners from below that age group.

This was costing him a ton of money.

What do we need to do to get optimised leads?

Naturally, we’d like to target users in the age group mentioned through the settings. However, Adwords only allows you to target such demographics in the display network.

It is something that is being beta tested, but at time of writing, such an option wasn’t available in the Search Network (which is where he was running this particular Adwords campaign).

Why do we need to cut out the 18 to 29 demographic?

We decided that the best course of action would be to make changes where we had an element of control.

Some of our readers might think the following is a crude way of enacting this change. But until Adwords gives us the control option over age demographics in the Search Network, then we're limited. We're all ears as to what else can be done, so post any suggestions in the comments below.

As mentioned before, the house related product will only work for homeowners above the age of 30. By reviewing the analytics report for our landing page tells us that we have a much higher bounce rate of 92.38% for the 18-24 demographic than any other age group and is 18.24% higher than the next closest age group.

As a side note, we accept that the other age demographics don’t show a particularly good bounce rate either. But it is a starker contrast that users in the 18-24 demographic move off the page after 17 seconds. Compare this to at least 53 seconds for any other demographic means that we must avoid the 18-24 group.

As a final point, the analytics data doesn’t allow us to customize the demographic from 18-29. This meant we while we could customise the 18-24 group, we could only gauge approximations from the 25-34 age demographic. It's crude, we know.

The orange box above highlights number of sessions within the 18-24 and 25-34 age group. The total number came to 46.64% which is too much traffic that simply isn't going to convert.

Remember, it’s an approximate solution we are about to reveal, so don’t get too hung up on it!

Using creative methods in Adwords to target demographic

So what did we do? From previous research and by knowing the customer profile, most of the target age group for this product would be:

  • Working professionals
  • Spending time diligently researching this product before purchase
  • Mostly not digitally savvy
  • Expecting supporting documentation

We decided that we'd review the traffic flow from mobile devices as we had experience that the type of clients for this product would not be digitally savvy, nor would they be likely to commit to a sign up page via a mobile phone.

This is the report for a prescribed period of time:

The report shows for that time period, 36% of the clicks on the ads originated from users on a mobile device.

Going back to analytics, and applying the Device Category as our secondary dimension, we can see the following:

With the above taken into consideration, we decided to reduce the site's exposure to those using mobile devices. Yes, we would lose 8.04% of mobile traffic coming in from the 35-44 category, but we would save on mobile clicks that wasn't helping the site – particularly the 12.46% of sessions coming in from the 18-24 category.

Admittedly, we're a bit unsure how to reduce the 10.99% traffic of desktop users from the 18-24 category. Again, if you have suggestions, you know what to do.

The screenshot below shows that we decided to drastically reduce our bidding on search terms by 100%.

By virtually eliminating this traffic, we can say it's a success if our lead generation increases by a healthy margin.

At the very least, the bounce rate should drop, meaning a better quality score for our search terms.

We know that this is going against the grain of current thinking with everything going to mobile, but we think this will pay off for this particular target market. Again, it's important to reiterate that this partner site knows his customers very well and this product he was selling on this landing page would only work for a certain demographic.

As an aside, you can find the device setting in the dashboard under the settings tab as shown:

We’ll update this page with results later this year, but even after a short time, we see the following:

As you can see, we've decreased the bids on mobile devices by 100%, with no clicks coming our way. For some reason, there have still been 9 impressions, but that could just be a the tail end of when we made the changes.

Nevertheless, we have achieved eliminating visitors from mobile devices for this campaign on Adwords. It is now just a matter of letting the campaign run to see if we can achieve a lower bounce rate.

In the meantime, we welcome any suggestions as to what you would do in this situation in the comments section.

Does the opposite work if you want to bid for mobile only?

The above example shows one of our campaigns had the effect of attracting visitors that used desktop devices and desktop enabled devices and excluding mobile users.

What about the other way round?

What if we had a product or service that we wanted to target mobile users exclusively on the search network within Google Adwords?

Well, you can't create mobile only campaigns within Adwords, but there two workarounds:

1From the default settings in the 'device' section, you can set it that desktop enabled devices have an incredibly low bid and then increase your mobile bids by up to 300%.

This doesn't completely eliminate your ads appearing on desktop devices, but it puts the bid in so low that the chances of it appearing are nominally low.

Yet again, this is a really crude way of doing it and we're open to suggestions from our readers.

2The second way is to create an Ad Group and within it to have advert as being available to all devices i.e. non-mobile.

The other ads in the ad group will have a preference to show up on mobile devices. This also isn't a foolproof workaround as the ad group will still show that specific one ad on non-mobile devices, but it is better than having no control whatsoever.

As you can see, the solutions aren't great for Adwords but such options are available already for BingAds, so we think it's only a matter of time before the above and age demographic options become available on the Google Adwords platform.

Adwords Reading Links
About Mobile Ads: Scroll to the middle of the page for 'Mobile devices with full browsers'.


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