Demographic Bid Adjustments in the New Adwords UI

Demographic bid modifiers were only available for Ages, Gender or Parental Status in the previous UI.  With the new UI, finding your demographic groups to add bid modifiers or exclusions is a little bit different.  If you’re newer to PPC, I’ll go over the basics of Demographics first before showing you how to utilize them in the new UI.

Demographic Groups Overview

How does Google Determine Demographics?

For users signed into a Google account, Google utilizes its vast network of properties to either infer demographic data about the users. Some partner sites outright share the information with Google.

For those who aren’t signed into a Google account, Google utilizes “cookies” to try to decide demographic assignments based on the videos watched or sites visited.

Armed with this information, Google segments this information for PPC advertisers to utilize in Adwords.

Why Add Demographic Bid Modifiers?

  1. Target Audience: Utilizing demographic bid modifiers could help you narrow down your target audience. Think about AARP and how they might want to change their bids for the 65+ audience vs. 45 – 54 audience. They might want to include the “Unknown” age audience, but find that it performs worse than their other age targets. With bid modifiers, they have the ability to bid up or down on these age groups. Similarly, luxury brands could vary bids based on household income or a dating service seeking to increase its male membership could decrease bids for or altogether exclude females from its campaigns.
  2. Performance: Based on results, you might find that selected demographic groups yield stellar or dismal results. You can accordingly boost or decrease bids to these groups to help you meet your goals. Since we can only see results in the interface at the ad group level, it can be hard to make a decision for smaller accounts.  In those cases, I like to download the results, then use a pivot table to help roll-up the data from the ad group level to campaign make a determination from there.

What is the “Unknown” Category?

The “Unknown” category is where people get lumped if Google cannot infer which category they should belong to. There are two important things to note about this category:

  1. There are websites on the Display Network that have opted out of demographic audiences. So, if you exclude the unknowns, then you’ll automatically be excluded from these sites as well.
  2. If you target a specific audience, the “Unknown” category is included by default so you can reach a wider audience. Excluding “Unknown” means you’ll limit your audience reach because some of your target audience is going to be in this segment.

Demographics in the New Interface

Navigating to Demographics

In the new UI, you can see demographics via 3 areas:

  1. All Campaigns (as seen in the screenshot below)
  2. All Search or All Display campaigns
  3. Any particular Search or Display campaign

From your chosen campaign view, click on “Demographics ” from the page menu on the left. At this top of this section, you’ll see tabs for:

  1. Age
  2. Gender
  3. Parental Status (not available for Search campaigns)
  4. Household Income (not available in all countries)
  5. More

 How to Add Demographic Bid Modifiers

There are two simple steps for adding demographic bid modifiers.

Once you select any of the demographics tabs at the top, you’ll see results by ad group below. To change the bid, check to box next to one or more demographic groups. Then, click “Edit”:


Select “Change bid adjustments”. From here, we can increase or decrease the default bid based on your goals or results.

Combinations Under the “More” Category

If you select “More” then “Combinations”, you can see results for any combination of demographics you select. If Household Income isn’t a metric that is important to you, you can deselect the check mark box next to it to deselect it. You cannot make any bid adjustments based on this tab, but this can be helpful for you to see results by any combination of demographic results at the ad group level.

Exclude Demographic Groups at the Ad Group Level

From any of the demographics tabs, select the checkbox next to one or more demographic groups. Then, click “Edit” then “Exclude”.

Exclude Demographic Groups at the Campaign Level

To add campaign demographic exclusions:

  1. Select “More” on the top right tab
  2. Click “Exclusions”
  3. Click on the blue pencil icon
  4. Select the Campaign you want to exclude from
  5. Select the demographic you want to exclude

Things to Note About Demographic Bid Adjustments:

  • Every bid adjustment you make is multiplied by the other adjustments you have in the account.
  • The maximum combined bid increase amount is 900% and the decreased amount is 90%.
  • Demographic information is not available for Shopping campaigns.
  • Some caution is always advised when utilizing this data because it’s not 100% accurate.
    • Cookie data isn’t always the most reliable anymore, especially since users can set their own cookie preferences.
    • Google users can adjust their ads settings information on their own, so they could always select inaccurate information to represent themselves.
    • Even though I’ve had a google account for years, Google still hasn’t figured out how old I am, so it might not know how old your target is either.


There are so many new features in the new AdWords that it can be overwhelming to keep track of them all. Check out The BIG List: Your Guide to the New AdWords Experience to keep everything straight.

Also, see yesterday’s post for an outline of the other bid adjustments Google has recently added.

What tips do you have for demographic bid adjustments? We’d love to hear them in the comments!