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Gender, Age & Interests in Google Analytics

Back in October, Google Analytics launched new audience demographic features, allowing website owners to determine their users gender, age and interests. As website owners, we can never have enough information on our users because quite simply, the more we know about people visiting our websites, the better the content / service we can offer them…

How to enable demographics & interest reports

The analytics tracking code you place on websites doesn’t change that often which is probably why i’m seeing so many people unaware of these new features in analytics – because you have to manually update the code on your website in order for them to work properly. It’s a simple, 2 minute job but of course anything that isn’t enabled by default confuses people or sounds more complex than it actually is. Assuming you already have analytics installed, just follow the guide here to enable demographics & interests reports.

enable

So what? How does this benefit anyone?

Up until now, I’ve never known what % of my audience to this site is female. If you’d have asked me to guess, it’d have said maybe 10-20%. Well, it turns out i’m underestimating the amount of females that visit this site. Google says about 30% of the audience to this site is female which means my assumption was wrong. Now this is just a personal blog that i do ‘for fun’ so i’m not going to suddenly turn it pink and start posting fashion and make-up tutorials to cater to that 30%, but it’s easy to see how this data can be used to benefit other websites.

demographics

For example on theleavingcert.com, it turns out 68% of the audience is female which is quite a surprise. In that case, turning it pink might be a smart move as it may fit that market better… analytics also tells me the audience is primarily comprised of ‘TV Lovers’, ‘Movie Lovers’ and ‘Music Lovers’… which is exactly the type of thing you associate with young women. All of this data is useful to help me build a picture of who my audience is which ultimately allows me to build a better experience for them. I feel like i know them better, therefore it makes creating content and marketing easier…

If i were to place ads, i’d know females would be more likely to be interested in coming to the site because they’re seemingly hungrier for information on the leaving cert. So conversion rates of ads shown to females and males might be hugely significant, ultimately saving me money. I may decide not to waste my time displaying ads to males…

Facebook insights give you gender breakdowns too so it’s easy to cross-check both figures to make sure they’re accurate. In theleavingcert.com’s case, they are…  59% of our page’s fans are female which helps to confirm the fact that our audience is indeed primarily made up of females, therefore posting content with some kind of female slant is likely to be shared / commented on / interacted with more than content that has a male slant.

facebook gender

You have to be extremely careful not to just take stats at face value and make sweeping changes based on one or two stats from a single source, but having looked at analytics reports for a few months now and cross-checked them with other stats and Facebook insights, they do seem pretty accurate, even though the reports are only based on a subset of users.

If you haven’t already done so, I recommend you activate demographics & interests reports. Knowledge is power as they say and if you can find out a gender and age breakdown of your users with just a few minutes work now, then surely it’s worth the effort. If you’re paying for ads and don’t have this kind of thing enabled, then clearly you’re not spending your own money, because if you were, you’d quickly realise that by not enabling these features, you’re throwing money in to a black hole. You may be getting results but you can get even better results if you have more intelligence at hand.

Sean MacEntee

Web Developer. Technology Addict. Swimmer. Man Utd Fan. Writer. Designer.