Google Ad Planner Launches, Offers Site Demographic Profiles
Google has launched Google Ad
Planner as an invite-only beta. It’s designed to allow advertisers to
identify sites with demographics they’re interested in — even sites that
aren’t part of Google’s advertising network.
The tool provides a greater depth of information about sites than
Google Trends For
Websites that came out last week. In fact, that’s more a "light" version
that Google told Search Engine Land was spun off from Google Ad Planner:
Initially, we were going to launch only Google Ad Planner. However, when
Google management looked at the product, they wanted to make sure that we
also provide the same data to our non-advertising users – i.e., consumers –
in a format that was accessible and comprehensive. Based on this decision,
we created and launched Trends for Websites prior to the launch of Google Ad
The screenshot below gives a glimpse of how much further the new tool
goes (click on it to see a larger image):
You can see how for ESPN, Google reports the sex, age, education, and
household income of visitors, in addition to information you can get from
research filtering tool, advertisers can set demographic criteria
they’re after, push a button, then get a list of sites.
There’s also a media planning tool. How does that automatically flow into
Google’s ad offerings? Not very well, it seems from the help information so
You can filter sites to find those that carry Google AdSense. From the
You can filter Google Ad Planner search results to display sites in the
Google content network only. If you’re a Google AdWords advertiser, you may
then target these sites from your AdWords account.
But to do that — or to implement your media plan with anyone, you have
to log into your AdWords account or other media buying platform and
separately target these sites.
Can I buy ad placements on sites through Google Ad Planner?
Not at this time. However, you can export your media plan to other
media planning and buying tools, such as DoubleClick MediaVisor.
Where’s the data coming from? As with the Google Trends release, Google
says from a variety of sources. Here’s a compilation of key statements from
the Ad Planner help area:
Google Ad Planner combines information from a variety of sources, such as
aggregated Google search data, opt-in anonymous Google Analytics data,
opt-in external consumer panel data, and other third-party market research.
The data is aggregated over millions of users and powered by computer
algorithms; it doesn’t contain personally-identifiable information.
Google Ad Planner demographic information is provided by third-party
market research data, opt-in consumer user panel data, and algorithms that
improve the demographic estimates. Demographic data is available for the
United States only.
The Google Analytics data in Google Ad Planner comes from website
owners who have opted to share their data in an anonymous form. (Learn
more about Google Analytics data sharing.)
Google Ad Planner doesn’t use individual site-level information from
Google Analytics. Instead, Google Ad Planner uses Google Analytics data in
an anonymous and aggregate fashion. Google Analytics data is combined with
other data sources to calibrate macro-level insights into website traffic
patterns, site visitation across geographies, and related websites and
The site data displayed in Google Ad Planner is updated regularly, and
reflects a 30-day period.
As part of a follow-up to Google Trends that I’ve been doing, I’d
previously asked Google for more about the panel being used. Sadly, they weren’t
We do not disclose the elements of our secret sauce as these elements are
subject to change. Similar to Google search, disclosing our data sources
could also encourage people to game the system. You can imagine some
websites would want to make their numbers look more attractive and would try
to find ways to game Google Trends for Websites estimates. In addition, it
takes time to determine which of these data sources will end up being
useful, and it turns out that combining various sources of data ensures
Sigh. Another Google black box, then. It’s noteworthy the Google Toolbar
isn’t being mentioned. I specifically asked to have confirmation that the
toolbar is NOT in the mix, and the "secret sauce" reply above is all I
That makes me think that toolbar data IS being used. In particular, the
focus on Google Analytics data feels like a sideshow. Google can’t rely on
Google Analytics as a core data source for this information, because of the
simple reason that not every site runs it. In contrast, using Google Toolbar
data would give them a nearly complete sample of all sites out there.
Google Analytics data can be used
as a "correcting" metric, however. For example, Google might estimate how much traffic flows to a particular
web site based on toolbar visits that it logs. It might then compare those
estimates to how much traffic the sites themselves report through Google
Analytics. The difference could then be used to adjust traffic for sites not
running Google Analytics.
News of the new tool had already leaked out before the announcement. The
Wall Street Journal
has a nice
pre-reaction piece quoting ad execs and citing fears some may have. See also more
from Techmeme here
(Some images used under license from Shutterstock.com.)
Analytics news and expert advice every Thursday.