Google announced today that it is to commence testing on Demographic Bidding. You can already target specific geographic locations for your ads to be shown, and pretty soon you’ll be able to target particular demographics too. Even if you don’t want to target specific demographics, there could be an incredible amount of value in the new reports you’ll get to measure and compare your success across a demographic spread. Inside AdWords: Demographic bidding beta test Google says:
Demographic bidding and reports are available to advertisers who run contextually targeted or placement-targeted campaigns (with CPC or CPM bidding) on certain sites in the Google Display network. Here’s how it works: Some publishers in our network, such as social networking sites, know the gender and age of their users because their users sign in with that information when they create a profile or fill out registration or subscription forms. Participating publishers anonymize this user reported demographic data and then send it to Google in aggregate form, allowing us to adjust which ads are shown to members of specific demographic groups. (To protect user privacy, AdWords receives this data only from publishers that have permission from users to share their data according to the site’s terms and conditions. Users are never identified personally, but only as anonymous aggregated data in the demographic reports. And to protect the privacy of minors, users under 18 can’t be targeted demographically.)
Bear in mind that this only applies to the Display Network, not Google Search or the Search Network.