Did you know that buried deep within your AdWords account is the ability to target in search via household income levels? You heard me right. Let me walk you through the (many) steps.


First, click on a campaign and go to the Settings tab, then the Locations sub-tab. Now, click the +LOCATIONS button.



(Take a moment to reflect on how very unintuitive this is and, in your own future site design efforts, try to do better than Google has on this one.)

Okay, next down at the bottom of your Locations list, you’ll see an “Advanced search” link; click it.

edit locations

We are almost there…I promise. Now, click on the “Location groups” link there at the top:

location groups

You are getting so warm! Once in “Location groups,” you’ll see a little drop-down that says “Choose your location group type”. Drop it down to “Locations by Demographics,” and ta-da….

by demographics

You get a second drop-down to select a household income tier. The top 50% is tiered by 10% increments, with the bottom fifty all in one.

There are many situations where this could be useful; the most common is facilitating reach to higher-income households in locations that are, in aggregate, lower HHI. Once you have created your target, it will look like this and be called a “custom” target.

 custom target

 You can use this income segmentation layered with geo as a stand-alone target for your search ads in cases where you want to eliminate certain HHI tiers entirely. You can also use it as a layer for bid modification. So, in my example there, I could target all of Louisiana but boost my bids 30% for people in the top 10% HHI there.

This deeply buried tool is a real gem in my opinion. Off the top of my head I can think of tons of keywords where the intent is dramatically changed when you are thinking top 10% HHI vs bottom 50%: loans, cars, real estate, shoes, business training, preschool, travel…the list goes on and on. Given the so buried, so unintuitive location of this, I’ll bet your competitors are not capitalizing on it (yet).

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8 thoughts on “Household Income Targeting in AdWords? Yup

  1. Hi Susan,
    Definitely a great unearthing of a targeting layer I had no idea existed! I think I’ll give this a try, but wanted to ask you 2 questions:
    1) Do you have any sense of how well this targeting performs by comparison to (from your example) the state of Louisiana as a whole? Does the interface make viewing stats specific to your income target easy to view on the “locations” tab under settings?

    2) Do you have any info on Google’s methodology for identifying the different income segments? My guess is it’s similar to / the same inferred site behavior patterns that power Interest categories within the GDN, but maybe that’s not accurate. Just curious.

    Thank you again!

  2. David, There is not currently a reporting layer that I know of. That said, you could split at the campaign level by creating cloned campaigns that go after certain HHI’s and use location exclusions on your “regular” campaigns of those same targets to measure performance deltas. Same idea as alpha/beta

    • Also, it appears that these don’t flow into Google Adwords Editor. We might have our work cut out for us.

  3. This is an awesome find. I have a couple questions.

    As far as I can tell in my account, clicks have to fit into one location bid modifier or the other. That is to say that one click won’t be reported in Louisiana and Minnesota if I have them separated. Does this mean that, in order to keep my state bid modifiers, I will need to create 6 location targets for each state? One for each income target?

    Assume I am only bidding in the US and that I have a seperate bid modifier for each state. Let’s say that I am bidding on 50 states + 1 Nation catch-all target. I will now be required to add location targets for 300 State/Income Combos + 6 Nation/Income Combos + 50 State Catch-All Targets + 1 Nation Catch-All Target = 300 + 6 + 50 + 1 = 357.

    Is that correct or am I way off?

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