How Medical Marketers Can Take Advantage of Google's Demographic Targeting Capabilities

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Google now offers demographic targeting for search ads — here’s what medical marketers need to know.

For the medical community (and everyone else, for that matter), Google has become the lynchpin of any successful digital marketing campaign. And for good reason — today, more than 5% of the search engine giants two trillion annual searches are health-related, and more than 81% of those searches result in a click on a sponsored ad.

But in spite of its long-held title as the leader in online ad sales (eMarketer predicts it will lay claim to 40.7% of the total U.S. digital ad revenue in 2017), it was lagging behind digital ad space competitors like Facebook and Bing in one key area: failing to offer demographic targeting options for its advertisers.

However, late last year, Google finally rolled out its own demographic targeting options, much to the delight of its users, and the impact has already been significant. Here’s why medical marketers should be paying attention.

Overview of New AdWords Targeting Options

Currently, Google AdWords allows users to target audiences based upon the following factors:

  • Age: "18-24," "25-34," "35-44," "45-54," "55-64," "65 or more," and "Unknown"
  • Gender: "Female," "Male," and "Unknown"

Demographic targeting options for Display or Video campaigns include:

  • Parental status: "Parent," "Not a parent," and "Unknown"

Demographic targeting for Video campaigns can include:

  • Household income: (U.S. only) “Top 10%,” “11-20%,” “21-30%,” “31-40%,” “41-50%,” “Lower 50%,” and “Unknown”

You can use these options to target specific audience segments with highly relevant materials, thereby increasing the quality of traffic and ultimately, your ROI. Moreover, it allows you to monitor ad performance based on these demographics (i.e., which age group and/or gender clicked on this ad the most). You can then use this data to optimize your messaging and spend, which will help improve your outcomes significantly.

Key Benefits

What this is really doing is providing an opportunity to marry consumer actions with consumer intent. Until now, we haven’t had a great window into who, exactly, is clicking on each individual ad. But this is, of course, vitally important information — after all, a 23-year-old and a 74-year-old who type “swollen knee” into Google are probably dealing with very different kinds of issues, and therefore in search of very different treatment options.

Demographic targeting also helps increase ROI by keeping your ads off the screens of irrelevant users. People rely on Google for all sorts of things, such as the answering random questions that pop into their minds throughout the course of their day. Unfortunately, when those “spur-of-the-moment” users click on your ads, it drives up your spend without increasing your rate of conversion.

Tangible Results

I came across a great anecdote in a WordStream article that not only illustrates this idea, but also shows how demographic targeting helps solve these kinds of problems.

While this may be changing, the vast majority of people getting breast enhancement procedures today are still women. However, somewhat unsurprisingly, it turns out that the bulk of people entering in search queries like “larger breasts” are male.

This phenomenon has had a tangible impact on the plastic surgery community for years. Widespread male “curiosity” has had a direct impact on cost-per-click (CPC), and the industry has been largely unable to do anything about it — that is, until now.

After one plastic surgeon used demographic targeting to block men from seeing his ads for female procedures in their search engine results, his CPCs and cost-per-acquisitions were literally cut in half, and he didn’t lose a single lead in the process.

The key takeaway is that yes, demographic targeting is a big win for medical marketers — when utilized correctly, it provides a significant opportunity to improve the accuracy of your search ad targeting, thereby improving ROI and campaign outcomes. As competition in the digital advertising space continues to heat up for medical organizations, understanding and correctly leveraging these kinds of features will be vital in maintaining an edge over your competitors.

 Medical Practice Marketing, Digital Marketing, Physician Marketing