Demographic and interest reports in Google Analytics

Demographic and interest reports in Google Analytics
Screenshot Google Analytics Demo

The demographics and interests report in Google Analytics answers many interesting questions like: “are my visitors male or female” and “how old are they”? But can you enable this function in the GA control panel without any worries?

What are demographic and interest reports?

Demographic and interest reports in Google Analytics are overviews of information about your visitors related to demographics and interests. Demographic information are things like age, gender and location – things that say something about who your visitors are. Information related to interests is exactly what it sounds like: what is your target audience interested in? This can be anything from video games to celebrity gossip to certain kinds of products. 

Google Analytics collects this information when visitors come to your website. It then processes all of that information and puts it in a neat overview: the demographic and interests reports. These allow you to easily see which demographics and interests are the most prevalent among your visitors. You can use this information to tailor your communication more to their wishes.

How does Google Analytics get demographic data?

Google Analytics gets demographic data from three sources:

  • Third-party DoubleClick cookie: These are advertising cookies placed on the user’s system by other websites, which Google Analytics collects information from.
  • Android Advertising ID: This is code included in Android apps. It includes demographic and interests information, and is generated based on the user’s activity in that app. Google Analytics can collect and use this information.
  • iOS Identifier for Advertisers (IDFA): This works very similarly to the Android Advertising ID, except this is the information that’s used on iOS devices like iPhones.

This information comes from external sites and apps, outside of yours. All this information from these many different sources is combined to generate the final information you see in Google Analytics.

Keep in mind that not all of this information will be available for all of your users – if a user doesn’t have a cookie, Android Advertising ID or IDFA on their system, it can’t be tracked, which means the user won’t show up in your data.

How does Google Analytics know my age?

This information is gained from demographic information gathered from cookies and apps (more information on that here). For example, if you use a fitness app on your iPhone and in that app you fill in your age, that information may be saved to the IDFA, which passes it on to Google Analytics. 

Take note: Google Analytics does not know your exact age. It saves and processes your age as an age group. These include 18-24, 25-34, 35-44, 45-54, 55-64 and 65+. Of course, any information coming from minors does not get tracked. 

Age overview Google Analytics

What is Interests in Google Analytics?

Interests in Google Analytics are general subjects and categories of subjects that users have shown an interest in. These are separated in on three groups:

  • Affinity Categories: Subjects that users have a long term, lasting interest in. For example: if a user is known to regularly read up on the latest celebrity gossip, then ‘Celebrities & Entertainment News’ may be an affinity category for them.
  • In-Market Segments: Subjects that users have a short term interest in. For example: a user looked at the latest Mario Party game on various web stores. Then ‘party games’ may be an in-market segment for them.
  • Other Categories: This is exactly what it sounds like: a category for subjects that don’t exactly fit the boxes of Affinity or In-Market, but are still valuable categories to keep in mind.

These interests give you an idea of what subjects your target audience is interested in. You can utilise this information to target your ads more effectively, by adapting them to your audience’s large interests or targeting people with specific interests. For example, imagine you’re an electronics store. Is a sizeable portion of your audience interested in headphones? Why not target those people with specific ads showing your best headphones off!

Like demographic data, Google Analytics gains this information from cookies and apps on the device that’s being used.

Google Analytics interest report overview

Where do I configure Google Analytics demographic and interest reports?

In order to use demographics and interest data, you first need to enable Advertising Reporting features. If you have not yet done that for your site, learn how to do it here.

Enabling demographic and interest reports

Before you can work with demographic and interest reports, you first need to enable them. You can do this from either the Admin tab or the Reporting tab. 

From the admin tab:

  1. Sign in to your Google Analytics account
  2. On the main screen, click ‘Admin’ in the bottom left corner
  3. Set the account and property in the dropdown menus to the property you want to enable demographic and interest data for
  4. In the middle ‘property’ column, click on ‘Property Settings’
  5. Scroll down to ‘Advertising Features’, and set the button under ‘Enable Demographics and Interests Reports’ to ‘ON’
  6. Click ‘Save’. 

Congratulations! Demographic and interest reports are now enabled.

How to enable demographic and interest reports

From the reporting tab:

  1. Sign in to your Google Analytics account
  2. On the main screen, in the left bar, under ‘Reports’, click Audience. Next, click Demographics, and then click Overview.
  3. Click on ‘Enable’

Note: If you do not see a button that says ‘Enable’, and instead you’re seeing demographic information, then demographic reports were already enabled.

What can I do with Google Analytics demographic and interest reports?

Demographic and interest reports give you a clear, concise overview of what kinds of people your audience consists, and what those people are into. You can use this information to adjust your communication and approach, to match your target audience’s wishes more closely.

In terms of demographic information, you can learn the following information about your users:

  • Age
  • Gender

Note: Additional information like location and used device is available too, but Google Analytics does not consider this a part of the demographics report.

Interests are presented in three categories: Affinity categories (long term interests), In-Market categories (short term interests) and Other categories. You can learn more about that in the dedicated segment for interest reports here.

In these reports, you can see exactly what kind of people are visiting your site, what they’re interested in, and how this has changed over time. You can also see how these different segments are behaving on your site. If you use this information wisely, you can get the most optimal results from the most optimal group.

Want to know how to use demographic and interest reports? Continue reading.

How do you analyze demographics in Google Analytics?

It is important to know how to analyse the demographics tab in Google Analytics. Information from this section can be used to analyse your audience in terms of gender, age and interests. With this information it is easier to create audiences for your marketing and remarketing campaigns or create content.

Viewing standard reports

Viewing a standard report is simple. On the starting screen of Google Analytics, you see the navigation bar on the left. Under ‘Reports’ are five different categories. Simply click on ‘Audience’, and then click on either ‘Demographics’ or ‘Interests’, depending on which one you want to see.

In the demographics or interests overview reports you can see a high-level overview of your audience. Either gender and age or affinity category and in-market segment.

Analyzing your statistics

The trick to analyzing your statistics is to start with general measurements, and work your way down to specific groups. This way, you can pinpoint which specific demographic is potentially most valuable to your business.

Let’s start by going to ‘Overview’ under ‘Demographics’. Here, you can get a general idea of what demographics are most valuable to you. In the example below, you can see that noticeably more men visit the site than women, in this case two fifths are male. 

Now, let’s go to the ‘Gender’ tab. Take a look at your data. 

In this lower level analysis you can really see the difference between males and females for this Google Analytics account. You can see the difference in Bounce Rate an Ecommerce Conversion Rate for example. You can edit the graph by switching “Users” in the top or adding a second metric.

In the table below you can add a second dimension or change your conversion goal.

Here we can see that we have noticeably more male users with slightly better engagement than our female users: better Bounce Rate en more Pages/Session. However our female users have a better Ecommerce Conversion Rate.

If we click on “male” we can zoom in on the age differences in users and engagement.

Here we can see that approximately 66% of our male users are 18-34 years old. But they account for 46% of transactions.

Only 16% of our male users are 45+ but they account for 36% of transactions.

If we click on the age group 45-54 we can see the “Other Categories” Google Analytics divides these users in. This “Other Category” is according to Google “more granular” than the Interests report Affinity or In-market. It’s the same category that Google Ads uses.

Now you can see the difference with 18-24 year old men:

The highest Conversion Rate among 45-54 men can be found in the category “Arts & Entertainment/Celebrities & Entertainment News” while this is this category with the most users for 18-24 year old men their Conversion Rate is 40% lower.

Use the Ecommerce Conversion Rate data if you want to decrease or increase your marketing budget for converting users. Use the engagement data of you want to increase of decrease your marketing budget for valuable users.

Google Analytics demographics and your privacy policy

If you enable GA demographics and interests reports you are using one of the so called Google Analytics advertising features. These features use data from GA cookies for advertising purposes. This means this function impacts your privacy policy and must be mentioned accordingly:

Of course, how to word this exactly is dependant on the structure of your privacy policy and your website. If you’re not sure how to include information regarding Google Analytics Advertising in your privacy policy, it’s recommended to consult a legal expert.

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