Few industries evolve, adapt, and integrate new tech quicker than paid search. Capitalizing on this dynamic environment is a significant aspect of the daily challenges account managers face. Whether the news comes from Inside AdWords or via a Google Representative’s beta deck, the announcement of upcoming changes typically triggers a flurry of excitement and preparation. Admittedly this comes with its share of obstacles, as sometimes both new and existing features can go underutilized.

While I pride myself on staying on the cutting edge of the PPC landscape, there are features, extensions, and updates that I have not tested to their fullest capacity. In particular, I see three strategic options that are frequently underutilized: income level targeting, ad rotation settings, and demographic bidding.

Income Level Targeting

Income level targeting is by no means a new tactic, however, I rarely find modifiers employed within recently onboarded accounts. I would wager a bet that this largely a product of the cumbersome nature in which implementation is conducted. While household income remains a targeting option in Editor, you’ll get an error message if you attempt to apply this audience to any non-video campaign.

Income targeting

Instead, income level targeting is controlled similarly to location targeting. Unfortunately, this cannot be executed outside the interface and requires navigating deeper into the location targeting settings than most typically go. In order to implement income targeting, navigate to the locations portion of settings. From there continue on to advanced search. Next, select location groups which will reveal a drop down menu in which you will select demographics. At this point, we can finally add each income level option for a desired domestic geographical target.

Income level targeting

Once this excessively complex path is navigated, we can begin altering our bids at an income level. Before making any assumptions it is recommended to implement all ranges with a 0% bid modifier. Keep in mind that these ranges are percentage intervals based on the geo-location that you select. Once significant data has accrued, update your bid modifiers similar to how you handle your geographic bid modifiers.

As a personal preference, I tend to leverage this feature in a way that reduces traffic in the least efficient segments. I opt for this methodology in lieu of bidding up on strong performers in order to maintain maximum traffic at my current budget level.

Optimize For Clicks

Designating this feature as an “underutilized” option within AdWords is likely to me the most controversial of these three. While many newly inherited accounts incorporate this ad delivery setting, it’s safe to say that a large percentage of account managers opt for full control of ad delivery via “rotate indefinitely.”

Traditionally, it is considered a common practice to have two ads per ad group running via “rotate indefinitely” for a clean A/B ad copy test.  The logic behind this reasoning is sound: balanced ad delivery leads to accurate, actionable results. On the other hand, this requires complete organization and control by the management team. While this is undoubtedly an area in which many of us excel (no pun intended), it limits testing to a given account segment as opposed to each individual ad group.

Ultimately there are four ad rotation settings:

  • Optimize by clicks
  • Optimize by conversions
  • Rotate indefinitely
  • Rotate and optimize

Optimize for clicks is a feature that Google representatives routinely encourage with true vigor. Instead of continuing to ignore this suggestion, a couple members of our team have opted to test the new setting against our traditional best practices. So far the results have actually been quite encouraging, suggesting that there may be value in rethinking how to set your delivery settings.

Demographic Bidding

Much like income targeting, demographic bidding for search ads is an excellent opportunity to maximize traffic from your core audience. For certain products, like insurance, there can be value in zeroing in on an older age group which yields a higher average order value. Conversely, an online retailer may see elevated conversion rates in a younger demographic due to a higher affinity for online versus in-store purchasing.

To add demographic based bids start by navigating to the audiences tab within AdWords. From there select demographics from the two audience options next to “+ Targeting” button. From here you can add modifiers to both gender and predefined age groupings. Bing also retains this ability.

Demographic data

Much like income targeting, I prefer to put these features in place with an initial 0% bid modifier. While most account managers will already have a well-formulated hypothesis on how these segments will perform, allowing the data to verify these claims is a tremendously important practice.

Concluding Thoughts

Occasionally lost in the midst of beta tests and new features, established entities like income targeting, demographic bidding, and ad rotation settings are valuable targeting techniques in nearly every vertical. Each item retains an inherent ability to maximize traffic at a more efficient clip. Ultimately, little harm comes from testing any of these options. For ad rotation settings, start small scale testing in a chosen campaign or category prior to pushing account wide. For income and demographic targeting, implement 0% modifiers today and start collecting actionable data tomorrow.