How Are Demographics Used in Online Advertising

Targeting the right demographics is one of the core principles of a successful advertising campaign. Demographics are a quantifiable way of associating any population into organized groups such as gender, age, language or income.

In advertising, demographic targeting can mean the different between reaching an audience that may have a potential interest in your product or service, and reaching a group that will not. Demographic information is widely available online, and when it comes to advertising, social media sites like Facebook and LinkedIn were the first to (exploit their users) provide the demographic information of their users to advertisers to help build more targeted advertising campaigns.

Demographic Targeting & Online Advertising

However, social media advertising isn’t the only type of advertising that takes into account demographic information. Display and content networks including Google, Yahoo! and Bing utilize search history to tracking code within accounts of users to develop a robust set of demographic info about each individual. This demographic information is then organized into a couple of different categories that let advertisers sort and target for the purposes of reaching a targeted audience.

For instance, with a business that provides home improvement services the most important piece of demographic targeting for your business is home ownership. Targeting individuals that do not own a home would be of zero interest in a direct response campaign. So with “home ownership” being the primary demographic category that should be targeted, it would be important to utilize an advertising platform that can determine if individuals are in fact owners of home. Utilizing Facebook Advertising would be a great start for this particular business.

Using the advanced targeting features within Facebook, a business that provides home improvement services could narrow their targeting to individuals that are home owners, and then start applying secondary types of targeting to the campaign such as geographic reach, language, age, gender, number of children and even income levels.

How To Reach The Right Demographics with Online Advertising

Every business is unique however, and certain times there is no clear cut demographic category that is specific to a business. For example, a company that sells cupcakes and cookies online would not have one particular demographic category since individuals of all ages, genders and income levels enjoy delicious treats. For this company, the demographic targeting for online advertising would be less reliant on individual user information, but instead would be more suited to the demographic information of particular websites. Baking websites and dessert blogs would be a good fit since the content would be tailored to individuals that are interested in these types of foods.

So utilizing Google Adwords’ Display Network and selecting websites by topic or direct url’s would be a great start towards reaching an audience. From there the audience that the business is interested in targeting can be further narrowed or expanded by applying more general demographic limitations to the campaign such as eliminating certain age ranges from the targeting, or excluding the advertisement from non-relevant pages on those websites that doesn’t directly pertain to cupcakes and cookies

Demographic targeting continues to become more available across advertising platforms and as analytics become more advanced, so to will the demographic information that is available for advertising purposes.