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Google Customer Match and the Future of Remarketing

| 3 minutes to read

On 27 September 2015 Google announced Customer Match. It gives advertisers the ability to upload their user base to AdWords and specifically market to those individuals.

The Benefits

AdWords Customer Match will become a potent remarketing tool because users can be signed in across multiple devices and therefore be served ads wherever or however they are using any Google property online.

This is unlike previous remarketing which is based on cookie collection and thus limited to showing ads only on particular browsers or sessions. This can be a worry for advertisers as some users may clear their cookies or even change their device.

The Concerns

AdWords Customer Match will only be able to target users whose email address matches the email address that they used to login into a Google property.

You’ll need an email list of at least 1,000 users to get started. This could prevent many small businesses from utilising this tool. You may not even have any emails at all, and it can take time to build up an email database.

The CSV import can be a hashed version for each email for greater security, though this isn’t very helpful to non-techies. You can learn more about the upload options on the Google help page. Update: This handy tool will create hashed versions of your emails.

hashed email example

Lastly you’ll need a specific page where users can manage their email preferences and unsubscribe if needed. Typically unsubscribe links are customised to the user within the actual email they receive, rather than on a dedicated webpage.

Targeting Options

You’ll be able to target users on the Search Network, in Gmail Ads and on YouTube.

Let’s look at some examples.

  1. Better target visitors that have signed up to your newsletter by applying a bid multiplier to that customer match remarketing list within your search network ads.
  2. Target users that have signed up to your travel offers by showing recent promotion when they are using their Gmail account.
  3. Show users YouTube Trueview adverts of new products from your online shop from which they have shopped in the past.

How Does it Compare?

Google is a bit late to the custom audience game as Facebook launched its Custom audiences feature a couple of years ago.

According to a recent test by Wordstream, AdWords customer Match identified the highest percentage of customers from their list over Facebook Custom Audiences and Twitter Tailored Audience.

adwords customer match email match rate

Match rate is a really important factor for a custom list based remarketing system to be effective.

There no doubt that Facebook Custom Audiences is still going to be a highly effective targeting platform as it has been for a while now. Facebook advertising is particularly useful for its insights into audience demographics and interests. However Google is beginning to catch up on this type of reporting.

A recent Twitter chat hosted by PRWD highlighted that typically users have an email for work and an email for personal use so Customer Match may not reach the right audience all of the time. This is opposed to Facebook where pretty much everyone will have a single login.

The End of Cookie Remarketing?

Privacy, as a whole, has recently become a big concern for internet users.

Google is quite hot on user privacy at the moment.

A while ago, Google removed keyword data from its analytics software to help users keep a degree of anonymity.

More recently, Google has been adjusting its remarketing advertising policies to exclude audiences where being shown certain types of services or products could damage their personal reputation or depict them in a negative way.

An example of this is the recent exclusion of audiences that have visited a website offering bad credit loans and services associated with financial difficulties.

The Future of Remarketing

Group of People Holding Letter Opportunity

Personalised remarketing technologies are helping us head towards delivering better targeted advertising to specific individuals. Hopefully this will help curb the recent need for ad blockers as users are becoming increasingly frustrated by generic online advertising messaging.

If we can tailor ad messaging to specific individuals without creeping them out, then I believe customer-list based remarketing will be a very valuable tool to advertisers.

Get started with AdWords Customer Match.


  1. […] in order to make your ad pop up in your customer’s Gmail inbox (sneaky I know!). Check out Dean’s post on Customer Match to find out more about […]

  2. Justin Lofton avatar

    Great article Dean! I agree the technical challenges will keep many from using it. Either way, Customer Match will be a game changer for marketers and advertisers. We are already working on the integration into to automate the process.

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