Google says it is retiring the Demographic Bidding functionality in the Google AdWords display network on March 21.
This was typically a weak and incomplete layer on the AdWords platform, as it relied on information reported by websites, presumably through third party data collection services such as Quantcast. AdWords had no direct knowledge of specific users’ actual demographics. As such, this method of targeting was caught up in the old publisher-based paradigm, rather than being user-specific.
That paradigm isn’t going away entirely, but many advertisers seek the power of targeting based on the user’s actual profile, not just what the publisher thinks of its user base in the aggregate. As most everyone knows, Google’s sweeping entry into social media with +1, Google+, and the collapsing of Google user privacy policies into one mega Google user profile, is all a precursor to allowing advertisers to engage in more sophisticated and precise behavioral targeting.
So, as demographic targeting 1.0 goes to sleep, we await:
- The ability to control bids by user characteristics, in a much more sophisticated and accurate fashion;
- The ability to do this not only for display ads, but for search ads!