SKADAGs - An Evolution of SKAGs for more precise AdWords targeting


Firstly, I’d just like to say if you are put off with the hard work involved creating single keyword ad groups(SKAGs) then I suggest that you stop reading this blog post.  However, if you would like to squeeze every bit of revenue possible out of your campaigns for your business or your client, then keep reading.

Many of you will be aware of what SKAGs are, I have been using them for years with great success and it is one of the best ways to structure your ad groups.

For anyone not aware of SKAGs, it basically involves selecting a number of ‘seed’ keywords and creating ad groups for each of them.  Normally 3 match types are used, modified broad match, phrase match and exact match. Broad match is often ignored because of the possibility of wasted spend.

For example, if your seed keyword is ‘PPC Glasgow’ your ad group would contain the following keywords:

  • [PPC Glasgow]
  • “PPC Glasgow”
  • +PPC +Glasgow

The following short video I created will go into more detail about single keyword ad groups.

Demographic Bid Adjustments

Almost 2 years ago Google introduced demographic bidding for search ads.  This basically allowed you to increase bids based on age and gender. At the time, I was a bit sceptical about how useful this would be, because as a search engine marketer, I pay more attention to search intent and didn’t bother too much about the age or gender of a potential customer.  After all, surely if someone is searching for a specific product or service we want to serve them an advert regardless of their demographics, right?  Wrong!   

The demographic of your visitor can have a massive impact on the likelihood that they will convert, even if the keywords targeted are so specific that the search intent is crystal clear.

Traditional marketers and brand strategists understand the importance of targeting the right demographic, but I think as search engine marketers we are guilty of forgetting this because Google allows us to target people who are looking for a specific product or service.

The proof is in the pudding

Not convinced?  The below screenshot is from a real account, just look at the difference in conversion rate and cost per lead for the various age ranges.

Similar patterns like what you see in the above example can also be seen when it comes to genders but it’s not usually as extreme compared to age groups. 

Demographic Bidding Limitations

Although demographic bid adjustments is a great feature on its own, it still has many limitations especially if you are working on large, complex client websites.

For example,  I had a client that wanted to shave £10k off their monthly budget without negatively affecting sales, they already had a pretty healthy account but they were not yet utilising demographic bid adjustments.  

Due to the nature of their business, it was clear that by looking at their website, certain product categories appealed to a younger audience while other areas appealed to an older audience.  For these categories, simple bid adjustments sufficed and improvements were made.

However, there were other products categories that contained products that appealed to both a younger and an older demographic but often the landing pages and ad text geared toward a younger audience.

To picture this just imagine that someone is searching using the search term beauty products.  There is a good chance that someone aged 18 - 24 will be looking for a have an interest in different products compared to someone aged between 55-64.  

Also, it transpired that their older customers tend to convert via desktop but the younger audience was much more likely to use a mobile when making a purchase on this particular account.   Unfortunately, within a single ad group you cannot set up rules such as ‘increase bids on mobiles for the 18 - 24 audience and decrease bids on mobiles for 55-64 year olds. This is one of the limitations of demographic bid adjustments.  

The solution to this was to separate ad groups for each age range as it allows me to use device bid adjustments for a specific demographic.  It also allows me to create a custom landing page depending on the visitor's age and create ads that are tailored to that demographic.

This type of targeting took a lot of work but the rewards were massive.  Not only did we decrease monthly spend by £10k, we also saw an improvement in conversion rate which actually lead to an increase in revenue.

After successfully using the above strategy on a number of accounts,  I wanted to share it with the search community. 

Introducing SKADAGs, a new strategy to help maximise AdWords Performance

I know, you may be thinking that this would take a massive amount of work to implement and on large accounts it probably would. However, I encourage you to use this strategy only for campaigns where it makes sense to do so such as in the situation I described above.

Sometimes the benefits of using this strategy are huge. It allows you to not only be extremely granular with your ad text and landing pages based on the keywords that you are targeting, it also allows you do this based on the age and/or gender of your audience.

This strategy is a way to squeeze every bit of conversion possible out of your campaigns.

How to create SKADAGs

Firstly, it is important that you ask yourself a few questions to decide whether or not creating demographic ad groups is a good idea.  

Here are the questions I ask myself before creating single keyword and demographic ad groups:

  1. Is there are a difference in conversion rate based on age or gender?  
  2. Do I think that I could increase metrics such as CTR and conversion rate if I create more targeted ads for a specific demographic?
  3. Do I need more granular control of device bid adjustment based because, custom sitelinks or custom callouts based on age or gender?

If you answer yes to any of the above questions then SKADAGs may be a good option for you. Below I have outlined a few scenarios where SKADAGs may be suitable.

Scenario - Used Car Dealer

Your client owns a car dealership that has a lot of repeat customers that tend to be from an older demographic but they specifically want to target people from a younger demographic as they understand the lifetime value of a customer is very high.  

Ideally, customers aged between 18 - 34 is their target audience.

They have carried out research and discovered that people under the age of 25 tend to have a budget of under £2000 a car and are more likely to convert on mobile compared to an older audience..

They have also found that people over 25 tend to be open to more expensive cars but they are more likely to pay for it using finance.  They also normally have a car to trade in.

This client has no interest in targeting customers over the age of 35 at this point in time.

They currently run their own AdWords campaigns, and as they sell a wide range of cars, they wish to receive clicks from people searching using the keyword ‘used cars for sale’ using modified broad match, phrase and exact match keywords as this converted well for them in the past.


A proposed solution would be to create 2 ad groups each of the ad groups will target the same keywords which will be [used cars for sale], "used cars for sale" and +used +cars +fors sale.  However, one of the ad groups will target 18 - 24 year olds and the other will target people aged 25 - 34.

To achieve this we simply create your ad group, create your ads and input your keywords then select the audiences> demographics>age as shown in the image below.

Following that you then click the green buttons next to age of the age ranges as shown in the image above and select removed for the demographics that you do not wish to target. So, for the ad group targeting 18-24 year olds, we remove everything with the exception of the 18-24 age range.

Removed Demographics AdWords

We now have a single keyword ad group that is targeting only 18-24 year olds.  Remember how we said 18 - 24 year olds are more likely to convert on their mobile in this scenario compared to an older demographic?  We can now make bid adjustments to increase bid on mobiles for this audience.  If you had simply lumped all of the demographic targeting into the same ad group, it would not be possible to be as granular with your bid adjustments.

We are also able to make extremely tailored ads with extremely tailor ad extensions too.

Check out the example below to see how this might look when someone between the age of 18-24 searches using the keywords you are targeting:

Notice how the ad example above that I have created is very specific to the needs of 18 - 24 year olds.  This massively increases the chances of a high CTR. A custom landing page can also be created to suit the needs of this demographic which obviously have a positive impact on conversion rate.  

To target the 24- 34 age range all you need to do is simply create a new ad group and follow the above steps.  Remember how this age group was more likely to apply for finance?  Notice how the ad has been specifically tailored to meet their needs in the example below.


The main reason for this blog post was to highlight the importance of demographic bidding.  I have had INCREDIBLE success simply by making demographic bid adjustments but the idea of creating SKADAGs has taken that to the next level for some of the accounts that I work on.

I understand that this method may not be for everybody as it can be extremely time consuming, but if you wish to squeeze every bit of ROAS out of your account, then this method may just help you do that.  

Thanks for reading!

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