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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  1. Paul Rice February 20th, 2014

    Susan, great find! I’ll be sure to use this in my PPC targeting starting today!

  2. Nick February 20th, 2014

    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!

  3. Susan Waldes February 20th, 2014

    Re 1) We are doing some testing now and I hope to have a follow up results post.

    Re 2) Its IRS data hence available in US only and so it is actually community aggregate average HHI vs specific household HHIs – here’s more Google info on this and how the tiers average out http://screencast.com/t/Rd5rEyz1v3W

  4. david February 25th, 2014

    Wow amazing – Is their any way to have reporting based on this yet?

  5. Susan Waldes February 25th, 2014

    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

  6. Sabrina February 25th, 2014

    This is a great find. Does this targeting work on Google Display Network, too?

  7. Zach Shearer June 3rd, 2014

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

  8. Zach Shearer June 3rd, 2014

    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?

  9. Cristian Weiser July 13th, 2016

    Very good article. Thank you.

  10. John July 22nd, 2016

    Everything was fine until trying to locate “advanced search”. Did google get rid of this feature?

  11. Chris September 28th, 2016

    Great article, very insightful – any word when/if the Average Household Income segments will be available in the UK?

  12. Ram Mahawar February 8th, 2017

    Hi David,
    I have a doubt. If I am targeting Top 50% Household Income segment and than also targeting some cities which may be already in Top 50% Household Income segment in a same campaign. Than tell me
    which targeting will work- Top 50% Household Income segment or the located cities.

  13. Damien Mulholland March 1st, 2017

    Hi Everyone, we are based in the UK but sell our hardwood conservatories to UK, Mainland Europe and sometimes further. I tried setting up an adwords campaign that would target the top 10% of households in the UK by income, but it keeps saying that Google doesn’t have the info.

    Does the Income targeting only work in the US?


    Damien Mulholland
    Marketing Manager
    Luxury Wooden Conservatories & Orangeries

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Susan Waldes
Susan Waldes has worked in the search engine marketing industry since 1999; she is currently the SVP of Client Services at Fivemill Marketing. Susan has handled a multitude of lead generation, branding, and eCommerce clients in her previous roles at ROI Revolution and Rockett Interactive and as an independent SEM consultant. Susan has a BFA from Savannah College of Art and Design. Susan has contributed insights about SEM and client relationships to other highly regarded outlets, including Techipedia.com.