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Google Expands GA to Include Demographics and Interests

The Overview

In October 2013 Google rolled out what many consider one of, if not the most important recent update to Google Analytics;

  • Demographics and Interest reports
  • Expanded advanced segment functionality
  • Multiple new standard reports

While advanced segments and new reports will be implemented in GA accounts by Google itself, to make sure you benefit from the Demographics and Interests reports, you will have to do some minor changes to the GA tracking code.

So, first thing first; why do you need to update the GA tracking code? The process will take some time to implement, so it is important to know the benefits.

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Setting up the GA tracking code will allow you to gather demographical and interest data. This information and associated reports mean that you will get more data about the audience that your website attracts.

Google collects this info through the use of a third-party Google Doubleclick cookie that is placed on visitors’ computers whenever they get to one of the websites that is part of the Google Display Network.

To give a brief characteristic of this network, it reaches around 90% of all Internet users, serves 180 billion ad impressions monthly and includes YouTube, Blogger and Gmail, along with another 2 million+ websites.

Once a user visits one of the websites of this network, the cookie that is placed on their computer starts gathering information about which sites of the network they usually visit. It records demographic data (such as age, gender etc.) that they might input for registration on them. Further to this Google has an ever-increasing amount of signed in user data gathered from logged in search.

The Process:

The instructions below are applicable to the latest version of the GA code – if you haven’t switched to it by now, there is a good reason to do it. By switching we mean replacing any older version of the code (which is also very likely to slow down the loading time of your website for visitors) on all website pages with the most recent version.

To enable the Demographics and Interests reporting, change this line in the GA tracking code on all website pages

(https://support.google.com/analytics/answer/2444872):

To this one;

After that, enable Demographics tracking by setting the toggle to 'on' in the following section:

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This is found under

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In the Admin tab for the website you wish to enable demographics tracking for.

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After these steps, update your privacy policy to reflect your use of Demographics and Interest Reporting (https://support.google.com/analytics/answer/2700409)