Nick Rennard
By Nick Rennard | SEM, Video | June 9, 2017

Customer Match in Google AdWords

Hello Fellow Advertisers! Today I will be discussing Customer Match in Google AdWords. I’ve been getting questions lately about how to use lists of e-mails effectively, so this video blog should help give you a better understand of how to implement these on the AdWords platform. I’ll cover the basics of what types of campaigns you can use Customer Match with, how exactly it works, my personal recommendations, and some other various details. Enjoy!



Full Transcript:

Hello everybody and welcome to another episode of my video blog series.

I am your host Nick Rennard, I am the head of SEM here at Digital Reach Agency and today we are going to be reviewing something I’ve been getting quite a few questions about lately, which is Customer Match in Google AdWords.

I wanted to go over a very basic overview of what it is, what we can use it for, some of my recommendations in terms of the things that I’ve had success or failures with in the past with Customer Match and hopefully give you some better ideas and resources for how to test this, implement this into your own campaigns moving forward. So, let’s get started here.


All right. I’ll start with an overview of what Customer Match is, essentially Customer Match allows you to show your ads to customers based on the data about those customers that you share with Google. It’s great for increasing brand awareness. It says “and lead generation,” we have had success with lead generation on customer match in the past. There are certain points that I’ll be going over later in this PowerPoint where I wouldn’t recommend using it for lead generation. There are places where it’s good for lead gen., others that it isn’t, again that’s only based on my own personal experience, so maybe if you try in your own industry. I always like to say, “Let the data do the talking,” so you can test it out with whatever budget you’re using and see if it actually works for you. I’ll just kind of give you my insights on that.

We can use it on three different platforms. Essentially Customer Match is going to be a list of emails that we upload and the three different platforms that we’re currently able to upload that list of emails to is going to be YouTube, so reaching new audiences by targeting similar audiences to the customers that we have within the email list. We can use it on Gmail and reach your customers again, with similar to audiences with personalized ads at the top of their Gmail inbox tabs.


We can also use it on the Search Network and Google Shopping, as well to optimize our campaigns by adjusting our bid based on what we know about our customer’s activities. Regarding to Gmail you may have heard of something called Gmail sponsored promotions, that’s exactly what we’re talking about, the acronym for it is GSP’s, you might have seen that thrown around a little bit. If you’re involved in the digital marketing world because RLSA is another term that I have here that you may have heard of before.  It stands for Remarketing Lists for Search Ads. We can also use it with RLSA’s on the Search Network and Google Shopping Network as well. Again, three different places we can use it, YouTube, Gmail, with Gmail Sponsored Promotions and also on the Search Network and/or Google Shopping Network. Yeah. So, those are the three places we can use it.

A note here, a Customer Match is currently only available on Search, Shopping, YouTube and Gmail, as I mentioned before, the main place that it’s not available on is the Display Network. Unfortunately, we don’t have any sort of access to be able to target users on the display network based on these customer lists. So, yeah, Display Network is kind of just out of the question on Customer Match but we can use it on those other four.


All right. Let’s move to our next slide here on how it works. So, the process for this is actually quite simple and it’s very similar to a remarketing list. You’ll recall if you’re familiar with remarketing that we have a list of users that we want to target based on their, for the most part, remarketing is targeting users that have been to your site before. There are ways to go more granular than that, a Customer Match List is going to be very similar but rather than targeting a list of users that have been to the site before, we’re targeting emails that we’ve gotten through maybe form submissions or however you generate those list of emails. There’s a myriad of ways to do it.

We take that list and we upload all of those emails, typically through Excel is the most common way of doing it, I’m sure there’s other file types you can use. So, you upload those email addressed that your customers have given you and then you either create a new campaign, if you are creating a new campaign to use these, or you can update an already existing campaign that you might have. A technique that I like to use is if you have a campaign that already is working for you and you just want to change up the targeting too, instead of targeting what the previous targeting was, if you want to use the Customer Match list, you can just copy and paste that campaign within the Google AdWords Editor and then just add that audience to the campaign, check your settings and post it. It’s kind of an easy way of seeing whether that form of targeting is effective for you.

Once you have that targeting uploaded, once those users that you have on the list are signed in to their Google accounts, so if they’re in their Gmail, they’ll start seeing your ads as they use the platforms that we mentioned; so the Search Network, YouTube, Gmail, through the Gmail Sponsored Promotions, Google Shopping, et cetera. Yeah, it’s actually a really simple upload process. You upload the names, you attach it to the campaign and then it will start showing to those users that are on the email list, that’s about all there is to it.

I do have, there’s a nice resource that Google has on their website, which I’ll click through here, if you go to the AdWords Support Page; so Google AdWords Support has a lot of really good resources on this stuff, so if you’re ever curious about Customer Match, I highly recommend you reference this page. There’s one about how Google uses Customer Match data, which will go into how the similar to audiences that I mentioned before work, as well. This is a really good resource if you want to reach through it on exactly how all of this works and how it doesn’t violate any sort of privacy policies or anything like that, ’cause that would be bad if it did.


So, the next thing I want to review here is the membership duration of the people on those lists because you’re going to be uploading a list of emails and a lot of cases, especially as I mentioned, if you’re familiar with remarketing, a remarketing list, I think the default is 30 days. After 30 days users will fall off of that list. This is where there’s actually a difference between targeting through your marketing and targeting through Customer Match. Customer Match actually never drops people off of the list so if you have an email on that list, it will never disappear. The lists don’t actually expire.  Again, the membership duration is unlimited. You can adjust that so you can go into the settings manually and adjust it so that maybe they drop after like 60 days or something like that.

You definitely want to refresh your list every once in a while. If you’re still showing ads to somebody who was on a customer list from six years ago, there’s probably not a very great chance that those people are using that email address anymore. So, I would highly recommend every three, six, nine months, however often you accumulate a list of users that is targetable through these lists, these Customer Match lists, that you update those where more is better; the more frequent, more recent and relevant users that you have on your list, more likely they are to convert.

Last note here is that AdWords does send out alerts so if you upload your customer list and it’s running for a while, it will send out an alert if it hasn’t been refreshed recently and it will kind of remind you to do that, kind of a nice feature that they have with this stuff. Yeah. All right.


Next thing here, I want to go into, which I’ve actually mentioned quite a few times, maybe I should have put this slide earlier but when you upload your list of users, that list is going to only be targeting the users that are actually on that list. What Google will automatically do is it will create what’s called a similar audience or a similar to audience where they take the demographics of the people who are on the list that you’re currently targeting, so maybe most of the users within that list fall under like the technophiles category for like topic targeting or something like that.

It will target like users that again, that are similar to those users and it will create a separate audience that is much, much, much larger. So, if your original list was, let’s say, 2,000 users, your similar audience may be like 30,000 users. It’s going to be a lot more people. The idea behind this is the original list that you upload, may be somewhat limited in its ability to target. The idea here is that this kind of expands your targeting and allows you to be spending more money, so if you’re having success with the campaigns, then you can keep spending on people who are kind of in the similar category.

My own personal experience with similar audiences, first off, definitely prioritize your main list first. If you’re really not getting traction through that list then my first recommendation before actually going to a similar audience would just be to get more people on that list so just keep … you know, find better ways to get people, get emails on your list, so users that may be good to target for you. I haven’t had a lot of success with the similar to list, I think that their algorithm for targeting people is a little too loose, so I’m not a huge fan of using these, mainly ’cause I just haven’t had a lot of success with them in the past. I feel that this feature is a little more just so Google can get your campaign spending, because google makes money off of your campaign spending. I may be wrong about that, maybe there are other people out there with different experiences but that’s just me personally.

As I mentioned before, the list gets created automatically, so you don’t have to worry about it. It’s just going to be in the account, you can attach it to a campaign if you really want to, if not, totally up to you. Yeah. Those audiences are going to be the same as your other audience so you can attach it or detach it from any other campaign that you want a target on. Again, with the limitations that I mentioned in the first slides and the audiences are going to be a lot bigger than the ones that you’re dealing with. We already covered that a little bit.

I would say that if you do decide to try out the similar to lists, that you be careful about spending your budget too quickly. Typically, since those lists are very large, your budget will cap out very early in the day so keep an eye on things like your cost per click, keep an eye on your impression share. If your cost per click on your original set of users is like, let’s say it’s $3, I would be looking for a cost per click that’s worth downwards of like 50 cents on the similar to audience. As we know, they users haven’t all actually submitted their email, so why would we be paying just as much for a click as we would be on the list of users that we know are actually on the list.

So, the idea here is that we’re getting more traffic but that traffic is less relevant but it’s also cheaper. If the conversion rate scales with the cost per click, then that campaign could technically be profitable for you. So yeah, keep an eye on cost per click, keep an eye on impression share, be careful using the similar to lists and analyze your data and see if it works for you.


All right. Let’s move on to my next slide, which is just a set of recommendations and overview here. If you have a list of customers already, I do highly recommend, first off, researching this, I’m just giving you a basic 101 overview of how this works, I highly recommend you go to the AdWords Support Pages and look in how to set up the campaigns, how to target them, how exactly it works, stuff like that, the resource I showed you earlier, et cetera.

I do recommend that you try it out. If you do, again, YouTube, Gmail, Search, Google Shopping, try it out on those networks, see if it works for you. I mentioned before that I like to let the data do the talking so if you’re getting the conversion rate you’re looking for out of those campaigns then, you know, I could be wrong about some of the stuff that I said about not having a success legion.

There’s one thing I’ve noticed about working in digital marketing for the years that I have, it’s that every industry, every product, every website; the equation for everybody is always going to be drastically different and while we do notice patterns within certain industries, there’s always going to be anomalies or people on either end of the bell curve, so to speak, you know, may have success with something where others are typically not having success with it.


I did say that I would mention a little bit about my personal experiences that I already have. My number one success that I’ve had with these has been on the Search Network through RLSA’s. Again RLSA stands for Remarketing Lists for Search Ads and what it does is if one of your users on that list searches for a key word, it will big more aggressively for users that are on the list because we know that they’ve already showed interest by doing whatever it is that populated them to the list in the first place.

I’ve had a really good experience with this. I highly recommend, if you haven’t looked into remarketing lists for search ads or RLSA’s that you look into that. That’s definitely my number one recommendation here. After RLSA’s, let’s say you’ve already implemented those or maybe you’re not running ads on the Search Network, so you’re not concerned with it. I would recommend YouTube, if you have good content for that, YouTube is great for awareness. I’d say that YouTube is mediocre for lead generation, I’ve had some success with it but not as much as I have on other networks. YouTube is fine.

Gmail Sponsored Promotions, this is actually the one that I would recommend the least and the only reason is because I haven’t had a great experience in terms of lead gen., I actually don’t know if I’ve actually ever generated a lead from somebody through a Gmail sponsored promotion, which I know definitely doesn’t sell it for you but I’m not here to sell it for you, I’m just here to give you my opinion on this stuff and that way you can decided whether or not you want to implement it for yourself. It is good for awareness, you are putting your ad in front of relevant users, at the top of their inbox. I’ve just noticed that when people go to their Gmail, it may be something about it, they just aren’t in the mood to convert or whatever it is.  A little bit about my personal experiences there.

Touching on what I’ve already talked about a little bit, these methods will not work for everybody. Everybody’s going to be a little bit different so let your data do the talking. Some of them might be better for awareness, some of them might be better for lead gen., some might be good or bad for both, it’s really going to be a matter if you’re setting it up correctly, doing your homework, doing your research and just analyzing your results after it’s been running for a while.

Anyways, that is all that I have for today on Customer Match. I hope you guys enjoyed this video and found it helpful. Feel free to leave any comments or questions in the section below and I will see you guys in my next video blog. Thanks for watching.

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