Add3 – Digital Marketing Agency with offices in Seattle & Portland

Do you, like myself, struggle with bidding on overly priced and competitive general terms, which in turn raise the account average CPC and CPA?  Well fret not, because I have found the Holy Grail, hidden behind the fortress of AdWords. Not only is this the solution to targeting general term keywords with a specific audience, but also give you the opportunity to increase your ROAS.

Google AdWords now gives you the option to target users based on their average annual household income, in both search and display. Understand that this does not target users individually, but instead, targets regions with the approximate and estimated annual household income. Don’t worry, Google isn’t creeping on your personal bank account, this is public data provided by the IRS, and most likely only goes as granular as a zip code. With that being said, this targeting feature is currently only available within the United States.

How are the income brackets organized?

  • Lower 50%, Less than $64,000
  • 31-40%, $64,001-$80,000
  • 21-30%, $80,001-$102,000
  • 11-20%, $102,001-$146,000
  • Top 10%, Over $146,001

*According to AdWords, theses tiers are estimated and subject to change based on the changes in populations.

How to Set Up HHI Targeting?

First off, select the campaign or ad group you would like to implement the targeting strategy in. Then select the “Settings” tab, followed by “locations” and then “+Locations” button.


The next step is to click the “Advanced Search” link.


As I said before, this is a hidden feature in AdWords, so stick with me! Now click the “Location Groups” link. Next step, click the “Choose location group type” drop down, followed by the “Location by demographics” option.


Don’t give up, you are almost there!  At this point you may now choose which HHI tier you would like to target. You can pick one tier or even all of them, but don’t forget to include the location within the search field for each bracket you choose!

When using this feature, remember that you can only target within the United States. Also, because HHI tiers are estimated and broad, I’d suggest you keep your location broad in order to gain enough statistical information.



Add your desired targeting, click done, and voila!

What Does This Really Mean?

Once you have chosen your specific targeting tiers and locations, you will have created a custom target. One use to this strategy is to add all the HHI tiers and let the campaign run. This will allow you to see how each tier performs and get a better idea of who your audience is. You can then layer in a bid modification to the top performing or struggling brackets in order to improve ROAS and account metrics.

Another option is to target specific HHI tiers if you already know your desired audience.  For example, imagine you are marketing for a high-end cruise line and want to bid on terms such as “book a cruise”. However, after countless optimizations you can’t seem to keep your average CPC’s down and conversion volume is suffering. This is most likely due to the fact that you are competing against general and affordable cruise lines (not your desired audience).  With HHI targeting, you can bid on these general terms, but with the use the bid modifiers to increase bids to high-income areas.

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Ashley Royalty

About Ashley Royalty

Ashley is a Paid Search Account Manager, expanding her marketing knowledge with Add3 since 2013. Besides being a Shiba-mommy, Ashley enjoys Happy Hours, golfing, boating and glitter. Follow her on Twitter for everything from SEM updates to live tweeting reality TV, @AshleyDavisSEA.

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