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Google’s Customer Match and how it can be used

Google’s Customer Match and how it can be used

Monday, October 05, 2015
Mike Fantis

It has been difficult to miss Google’s announcement this week that it will shortly be rolling out Customer Match, a development that will let advertisers tap into one of the most lucrative forms of ad targeting available: email addresses Customer matching is an advancement on Google’s remarketing lists for search ads (RLSAs), allowing advertisers to upload their own email lists to target customers and similar audiences with ads on search, Gmail native ads and YouTube. The email lists can be uploaded manually or through the AdWords API. In order to target or exclude users, their email address must be associated to a Google account. This doesn’t have to be a Gmail account. Google then matches the email address with signed-in users, allowing advertisers to target (or exclude) these users, with specific ad copy and bids. Those of you worried about privacy, shouldn’t be, as the email addresses will be anonymised by Google. Google’s Customer Match option will compete with the Custom Audiences functionality that has been available on Facebook since 2012.


Another available feature will be Similar Audiences, aka ‘lookalike targeting’, where Google will find and generate groups of potential new customers, with similar profiles, interests and purchasing or browsing habits to the customers in your email list. There are many ways you can use Customer Match and Similar Audiences. We’re not going to bore you with bid adjustments for these users. We all know about these options. What is interesting is how digital marketers / SEM teams work with their CRM team. If you’re not working together the time has come to break those silos and communicate. Both teams have access to data and skill sets that benefit each other, and most importantly the business. So many brands talk about integration and working together, but how many are truly integrated? If you’re not working together you won’t be able to maximise this opportunity. You receive the email list of all your customers, but now what? Here’s a list of questions and learnings that we feel are needed to maximise this opportunity (there are lots more):

  • Are you going to use the entire list?
  • Are you going to treat every user the same?
  • Do you know how many are repeat customers?
  • Do you know how many have only converted once?
  • Do you know how many are lapsed customers? (i.e. have not converted in the last 18 months)
  • What is the male/female split?
  • Segment the list by age
  • Segment the list by average basket value / revenue
  • And many more…

Each segment will dictate whether you include or exclude, set positive or negative bid adjustments, use search versus You Tube etc. For example, one time converted and lapsed users may need to be reminded about the brand and offering. Targeting these users via You Tube will help bring the brand front of mind. If this sounds interesting, here are a few basic scenarios to work with:

  • If you are bidding on brand terms, it may be an idea to exclude users who convert frequently. We can label these users as brand loyal and know that they will engage with the organic result if there is no PPC ad. They don’t need to be incentivised to get over the line.
  • Adjust creative tone and messaging based on gender.
  • Add positive bid adjustments when specific segments use generic search. These users are more likely to engage with the brand having already done so in the past.

No doubt there will be some interesting results from this product and one thing is for sure: the evolution and developments in targeting options won’t stop here.

Mike Fantis
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