March 28, 2008, 12:00 AM

Google lets advertisers target by age and gender

The search engine giant has introduced demographic bidding for Google AdWords, which enables advertisers to focus message delivery by individual characteristics to enhance advertising campaigns.

Katie Evans

Managing Editor, International Research

Google has introduced a new program enabling advertisers to target searchers by age and gender. Demographic bidding for Google AdWords allows advertisers to focus message delivery by individual characteristics to enhance their advertising campaigns.

The feature is available for sites within the Google content network such as MySpace and Friendster where users provide demographic information about themselves. AdWords receives the data in anonymous and aggregate form from participating partner sites, which means users cannot be personally identified.

“Suppose you sell women’s basketball shoes and want your ad to be seen by 18-24 year-old females. You could raise your bids to increase the frequency with which those users see your ads,” Google says on its AdWords blog. “You can also restrict your ads from certain users if you think they’re not meeting your ROI goals. In the case of women’s basketball shoes, you might find that the male, 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.”

Demographic bidding offers retailers a new tool that can successfully augment their search engine marketing, experts say.

Google is playing up return on investment as key to its demographic bidding offering. “You can also use demographic reports, available in the AdWords Report Center, to get insight into how your ads perform for specific demographics,” the company says. “These metrics can help you decide how to adjust your bid modifiers and restricts to reach the audiences that give you the most clicks and the best ROI.”

Many retailers can benefit from demographic bidding, experts say. “With the increasing pressure to reduce costs per click, demographic targeting would be most useful for retailers with a wide range of products, as well as those with specialty products such as food items, clothing, sporting goods or quality of life products like wheelchairs,” says Udayan Bose, CEO of NetElixir Inc., a search engine marketing firm. “And demographic targeting can be very useful when combined with known seasonal trends and could increase the benefit of contextual or location targeting beyond brand name recognition. But this feature still needs to be experimented with in advertising campaigns to evaluate how effective it would be.”

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