Demographics coming soon to Google Analytics

google analytics demographic reports

I’m 35-44, Male, my Interests include Pro Football, and soon you will know that when I visit your website.

Google Analytics announced Audience Reporting at the Certified Partner Summit that Jim and I just attended, in my mind the most intriguing of the new features and integrations with other Google products. Audience Reporting – when available — will leverage DoubleClick cookie data to report age, gender, and interests in the aggregate and as dimensions that enable segmentation analysis…but only for some sites that use GA.

I say “some,” because these new dimensions are pulled from Google unit Doubleclick’s inference about its cookies’ owners. GA can only borrow — anonymously and in aggregate — this DoubleClick data when it can read that cookie, which requires a change to most sites’ GA Tracking Code. We can help, the change can be simple in Google Tag Manager, and here is some additional background:

“If you choose to support Display Advertising, for example to enable Remarketing with Google Analytics or Google Display Network (GDN) Impression Reporting, then the update to the Analytics tracking code involves replacing only a single line of the code. Once you have made that change, Google Analytics collects the information it normally does, as well as the DoubleClick cookie when that cookie is present.”

As Google explains, leveraging its advertising products is the point of the new Audience Reporting feature:

“One of the biggest challenges for online marketers is the lack of information about the people visiting their properties and buying their products. Unlike in physical stores where a manager can tell a lot about the sorts of people coming and going — What age are they? What’s their gender? What are they interested in? — online merchandisers and marketers are often flying blind. Audience Reporting solves this problem by providing age, gender, and interest categories as dimensions in Google Analytics. Find out who your site visitors are and gain a better understanding of who your most valuable (highest converting) audiences are so you can effectively reach your best prospects on the Google Display Network. Taking into account demographics and interests, you can efficiently target, bid, and optimize your creative to improve your campaign’s performance.”

For a sense of how Doubleclick sees the audience composition of at least large, ad-supported sites, you can poke around AdWords Display Planner; here are the public stats for our client BabyCenter.com:

DoubleClick Demographics

Smaller and non-publisher sites track and publicly report their audience demos through QuantCast as well, which we recommend for almost any client; BabyCenter.com’s publicly available numbers:

Quantcast Demographics

But none of those sources tells website managers about their own sites in as much detail as Audience Reporting will. Age, gender and interests will be reported at the top level along the lines of this slide released at the Summit:

Google Analytics Demographics

More important, these dimensions will be available in the new Segment Builder and presumably in Custom Reports and the API, where they can be used in auto-updated spreadsheets and third-party dashboards:

Google Analytics Demographic Segments

Not since the demise of Yahoo! Web Analytics have these data points been available in a free tool:

Web Analytics Dempgraphics

… although demographics are a key differentiator for the premium comScore Digital Analytix.

Of course, if these estimates of demographics aren’t enough, you can always survey your audience and pass those findings into GA with UserReport.

With our market research and publishing heritage, and focus on media clients, we’re especially eager to see this feature rolled out; timing was not released but follow us in social media and we will keep you posted.

Contact us to upgrade your GA Tracking Code or talk about the other new GA capabilities.

UPDATE: see the announcement at the GA Partner Summit, which starts at 59:12:

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