Customer Match is Google's equivalent of Facebook Custom Audiences, using email addresses to target PPC ads and display ads across Gmail and YouTube.

You can read the Google announcement here for a quick summary. But, what will Customer Match mean for marketers?

1. PPC ads can get much more personal

Leaving aside the display ad element of Customer Match (through Gmail and YouTube), there's incredible scope for newly personalised PPC campaigns.

Think of all the segmentation possible with your customer database.

All these segments can be experimented with, changing bid levels, keyphrases and creative. Say you want to target lapsed customers, you can do so through a medium more timely and more relevant than email (especially if the customer has unsubscribed).

2. PPC advertisers can follow customers across devices

Google already allows marketers to serve PPC ads to previous site visitors with its remarketing lists for search ads (RLSAs).

This is done with a cookie pool (just like retargeted display ads) and therefore only allows you to target PPC ads based on pages visited.

RLSAs allow advertisers to increase bids or broaden keyphrases for returning searchers who are more likely to click and convert.

Where Customer Match trumps this is with its ability to advertise to recognised signed-in users (wherever they are). This means across mobile, tablet, laptop and desktop (which cookies and RLSAs cannot traverse).

3. It's going to mean a whole lot more testing

Optimising bids and creative will take some time. Like RLSAs, each advertiser will need to work out how much extra money they want to bid for these known users.

Coming up with and A/B testing a whole new raft of ad copy for each list will mean some extra work for you or your agency.

4. Consumer trust may be affected

It's difficult to know the proportion of Google users that comprehend PPC ads as promoted listings. A study on this blog (by Dan Barker and Graham Charlton) is summarised below.

If we assume ad awareness is increasing (leading to the recent trend for ad blockers), will consumers be disgruntled by new targeting with PPC?

Certainly Google will ensure ad creative isn't 'creepy' (COME BACK PLEASE!) and is always relevant to query, so perhaps Customer Match will never be as obvious to the user as display retargeting is.

Even with YouTube ads, the fact that marketers won't be working with a soon-to-expire cookie pool means customers won't necessarily be creeped out (as Match won't necessarily have the immediacy of traditional retargeting).

how many users are aware of google ads

5. Targeting + intent = win

Customer Match should offer similar targeting potential to Facebook's custom audiences. Crucially, though, Customer Match is aimed at users who will be exhibiting more intent than Facebook users.

Although the price will be higher, that's got to be an exciting prospect.

6. Advertisers can target temporally or combine with email marketing

N.B. I have to credit the fine fellows over at #EcomChat for these two points.

Users who have purchased or abandoned on a significant date, such as Black Friday, can be targetted with PPC ads via Customer Match after a year without returning. Targetting on this same date may suck the customer back in.

Additionally, PPC creative used in Customer Match can be designed so it is complementary to email content being sent to your database of subscribers.

There are undoubtedly many new tactics to try and it will be interesting to see the first results. For more information on PPC, read the Econsultancy PPC Best Practice Guide.

Ben Davis

Published 5 October, 2015 by Ben Davis @ Econsultancy

Ben Davis is Editor at Econsultancy. He lives in Manchester, England. You can contact him at, follow at @herrhuld or connect via LinkedIn.

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Comments (1)

Pete Austin

Pete Austin, Founder and Author at Fresh Relevance

Google Customer Match and Facebook Custom Audiences provide additional competition for triggered email as a means of staying in touch with individuals. (My understanding is that they don't allow true individual targeting yet, which is a shame, though list sizes can very small)

I think the most interesting issue will be click-through rates and related opportunity costs. Triggered emails such as cart abandonment are likely to be opened, wheras adverts are usually ignored even when relevant. Given the high opportunity cost in triggered messaging scenarios, will there be ROI in choosing a channel that may get less responses than email?

almost 3 years ago

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