Income Location Targeting in AdWords: Hybrid Options

Post by Jesse Nogel, Media Director

Last year, Google AdWords created a new geo-targeting feature: income location targeting. This feature enables advertisers to target users based on the income level of a user’s zip code. To compute this, Google uses publicly-available data from the U.S. Census and the IRS.

Will this Work for My Brand?

Utilizing this feature can be extremely helpful for advertisers that market products or services that skew heavily towards either end of the socio-economic spectrum. To determine whether your brand will benefit from this geo-bidding tactic, add all six income location targets to all of your campaigns, and keep the bid at 0%. If you’re targeting 100% of a given geo-location and then add all six income levels at 0%, you can track the performance of these various income location targets without making any changes to your account. It’s essentially collecting data for free, so that you can create a strategy for viewing how your ads perform based on income location. Please be warned: if your account is targeting the United States, make sure that you also include the United States at the country-level as well. Google doesn’t always know a user’s specific location, and if you only target users based on the six income location targets, then users whose location couldn’t be verified by Google won’t see your ads.

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How does Geo-bidding Work with Different Targets? (Country, State, DMA, City, Zip Code)

One of the more sophisticated features of geo-bidding with AdWords is that you can combine multiple geo targets in a campaign, and AdWords will default to the most specific location. For example, you could apply bid modifiers to your account’s high-volume cities or DMAs (that have enough data to be deemed statistically significant), then apply income location bid modifiers to cover all the other geo locations that are too low volume to calculate individual bid modifiers. While this may seem duplicative, AdWords won’t stack the bidding when a user falls into one of your targeted cities/DMAs and an income location target; it will default to the most granular geo-target.

There are Numerous Geo-targeting Configurations to Choose From

Example #1: High-volume cities coupled with income location targeting

  • The logic behind this tactic is that DMAs aren’t granular enough and zip codes are too cumbersome for day-to-day management

Example #2: Campaign 1: best performing high-volume zip codes; Campaign 2: worst-performing high-volume zip codes; Campaign 3: all other zip codes that fall into the category of low volume

  • Some marketers might see this tactic as too cumbersome in terms of day-to-day management, whereas other marketers might see the most granular strategy as the best

AdWords has tons of options and configurations to choose from. The point is to design creative geo-targeting strategies that complement your account and then execute the tactic with precision. Happy geo-hunting!

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