Demographics and Interest Reports in Google Analytics
By now, most of us have heard about the new Google Analytics Demographics and Interest Reports, which provide insights into age, gender, and visitor interests:
These reports will be a powerful tool for gathering information for remarketing, and may even help you create new campaigns based on your site’s audience. This means no more guessing about what types of visitors interact with your site.
Where is this new data coming from?
It looks like the data that’s being collected in your Google Ads Settings is at least partially driving these new reports. There has also been speculation that Google+ profiles may also be supplementing this data – one might wonder if this new data is Google+’s answer to Facebook Insights. And as Google+ is pushed more, the data may become more accurate!
Demographics and Interest Reports – Current Limitations
Keep the following in mind when using these new reports:
1. Are you who Google thinks you are? Take a look at your own Google Ads Settings: https://www.google.com/ads/preferences. It’s not always accurate. Mine said one of my top interests was banking, and it thought my coworker was 34, based on his interests.
2. Data thresholds are applied to these reports, which means not all of the visitor data may be available, so you may be viewing partial data. If this is the case, you’ll see a message like this:
3. Users may have opted out of having data collected in their Google Ads Settings. There may also be other ways of opting out from having this data collected that could also impact what’s seen in Google Analytics.
4. If visitors aren’t logged into their Google account when browsing, and are using an incognito browser, their data might not be recorded.
Many Google Analytics users do not have access to this report yet – if you’re one of those still without access, take a look at the Google Analytics Summit update for information on this update.
Demographics and Interest Reports – Implementation
If the navigation in Google Analytics shows that you can have access to these reports, you’ll need to make a few adjustments before you can start collecting the demographic data.
1. Update the tracking code to support display advertising.
To do this manually, all you need to do is replace one line of code, which will allow Google Analytics to collect data as usual, in addition to DoubleClick cookie information (if it is present).
If it’s easier for you, you can also get an updated code snippet that includes the change by going to Admin > property > Tracking Info:
You will then need to add this piece of updated code to every page on your site.
3. Enable your Demographics reports in Google Analytics. Navigate to the Demographics reports, and click Enable:
4. Validate your tracking code:
Note: If code validation does not work, and you are certain that the code has been changed and is correct, try hitting “Skip Validation” to enable these reports.\
Viewing the Reports – Examples
Once the reports have been enabled, you should be able to see reports like this:
Which can then be drilled down by a few different metrics:
More specific reports contain trendlines and other fun data visualizations:
The Interests reports give you an overview, which you can also drill down into:
Using the Demographics and Interest Reports – Benefits and Examples
For a real-world example of how to utilize these new reports, we have a client who is considering using custom variables to gather visitor data. Understanding demographic data is critical to their marketing campaigns. They will now have the opportunity to compare their internal, known demographic data to the new information.
Adding the new Demographics and Interest Report code to any site would also offer several major benefits:
1. Segmentation of any report by visitor characteristics:
2. Building custom segments to use this information for remarketing
3. Automatic visualization in Google Analytics, as noted above
4. Separation of users by device type, to see if, for example, males access your site more frequently on tablets than females
This is an instance where adding the Demographics and Interest Report code would be incredibly valuable to our client. It’s time-saving, automated, and far easier to manage.
The data in these reports are useful for building relationships with your customers. Slicing and dicing your data based on visitor information (like top visited pages for 24-35 year old men) will help you understand their behavior. Then, you can compare this data to your assumed target market, and you might find a new hobby or interest that you can connect with on your site, letting you create visitor-specific content that pulls customers right down the conversion path.
You can also gain a deeper understanding about the profile of visitors who do various things on your site (like convert, bounce, share things, etc.), and see how that overlaps with their interaction with other page content or sections. If, for example, 18 – 24 year olds love your blog but never make it to a product page, you can now see what conversion barriers exist.
For one more suggestion, think about a brand that sells high-end housewares and home furnishings. You might be inclined to think that most of your visitors are women. Well, SEER has a client that sells motorcycle gear, and we discovered (through traditional research) that women make up a significant part of their customer base. They successfully switched up their marketing and product mix, and ran promotions to appeal to this previously unknown customer demographic.
The new Demographics and Interest Reports can potentially provide that same level of insight, but far more easily. Going back to the housewares example, what if the data suggests that a sizable portion of visitors to your home goods site are men, who love TV and sports? You can now see what types of products they’re seeking (and buying), and create promotions based on that information.
Given some of the limitations noted earlier, SEER recommends that these new reports be used to gain a high-level overview of your audience and customers. We wouldn’t recommend making any major marketing decisions based on this data at this point, though. However, we do recommend adding the code as soon as you can, as it will provide new insight that you don’t currently have. (Plus, it’s just so darn fun to play with, right?)
As my fellow ANA team member put it: “If you see that more than half of your visitors like knitting, don’t suddenly change all of your marketing strategies to knitting!”