The use of demographic data can be a polarizing subject to many marketing professionals. While some believe demographics are the key to understanding an intended audience, others believe they provide only a trivial perspective into the tastes or desires of such an audience. In some ways, both arguments are accurate. Using demographics can produce incredibly relevant and well-received content, but only if done right; demographics are so much more than just age and gender. 

To learn more about the use of demographic data, YouTube recently analyzed over 75,000 YouTube advertising campaigns across 10 industry verticals. Many of the campaigns relied on the most standard of demographics, pinpointing their audiences by age and gender. Others utilized YouTube’s Advanced Audiences feature and were able to pinpoint their prospective viewers more pointedly. By analyzing these campaigns, Google was able to better understand the effectiveness of using demographic data in marketing. Here’s what we found and how you can use it:

Specifics matter

Suppose you’re a cruelty-free and clean makeup company: traditional demographic data use would have you choose an age range and gender. With this method, you’re sure to find a few interested viewers, but many will find the content irrelevant. By being more specific about your audience, you can create a group of viewers who find your content hyper-relevant to their tastes and values. At Google, we call such groups custom affinity audiences—and they’re incredibly easy to isolate uses Advanced Audiences. 

Demographics are only part of the picture

Many marketers make the mistake of looking at demographics as though it is cause and effect. As with all human behavior, anomalies exist, meaning that even though a campaign has reached and performed well with a particular audience, a future campaign may not garner the same results. Using existing affinity groups, like foodies, makeup lovers, or DIYers, in addition to traditional demographics like age and gender, can produce steady and consistent results. 

All in all, demographics are a helpful tool that many successful ad campaigns utilize for video content, but how you use and how you view them matters. Consumers are much more complicated and multifaceted than marketers often make them out to be. Successful ad content knows that—it speaks to their varied interests and passions. So, while demographic data has the ability to provide a window into the minds of consumers, the success of the data hinges on a marketer’s ability to turn it into a meaningful and innovative message.