Leveraging Google Customer Match

November 18, 2015
Leveraging Google Customer Match

Google recently launched one of their biggest enhancements since…

…well maybe ever!

Simply put, Google Customer Match allows you to use first-party data—in this case emails tied to Google accounts—to create lists for targeting or excluding users. This layer of knowing more about the identity of the users you’re targeting opens up many avenues for optimization and strategic growth.

Currently, the Customer Match lists are available in search, YouTube, and Gmail Ads (formerly Gmail Sponsored Promotions).


The journey to Customer Match

Before we jump into how we can use Customer Match, let’s add some perspective on why Google is doing this. This may connect some dots on the use of this new feature and give us an idea of how it will evolve in the future.

Building audience lists based off email addresses is nothing new. Facebook and Twitter advertisers have had this ability for awhile now. Over the past few years, social media platforms have been building upon a key advantage over Google’s offerings: more defined and reliable audience data. For Google to continue to grow its revenue through AdWords, this is a gap that they needed to address.

One of their first steps towards addressing this weakness was the release of Remarketing Lists for Search Ads (RLSA). RLSA gave marketers the ability to layer retargeting lists—mainly based off website interactions—onto their AdWords campaigns. These new controls allow us to think differently about bidding, keyword selection, and tailored messaging. Customer match allows us to do these same things, but gives us more control and creativity over our user segmentation.


What does this mean for our marketing strategy?

Google has many different targeting options that vary by network (search, YouTube, display). These targeting features can all be layered together in unique ways and this includes Customer Match. I’ll use a lead generation strategy to illustrate:

For long consideration products/services it is common to have many different gated offers as a method to attain leads—collateral (e.g., whitepapers, case studies, and infographics), free trials, demos, etc.

A common strategy we use with our clients is guiding these leads down the funnel through our advertising. For someone who downloaded a whitepaper, perhaps we will retarget them later to sign up for a free trial. This strategy can be very effective, but sometimes that whitepaper is not enough to get them intrigued about what your company offers. In this case, it will not be easy to get these leads interested in a demo or even talk to your sales team.

With Customer Match, we can think more strategically on the story we are trying to tell those becoming interested in your brand. Perhaps after downloading that whitepaper, we add them to a list to be shown a product demo video on YouTube. Now this user may be more inspired. If we hit them with a strong CTA ad to take that next (bottom-funnel offer), they could be more likely to convert.


Other uses and considerations

  • Consider what you know about customers when thinking about segmentation of your lists (demographics, company, company size, etc.). The possibilities can be pretty much endless here, but you will need at least 1,000 matched emails–emails that have been matched against Google sign-in emails and anonymized–per list.
  • Exclude your current customers from your campaigns, especially branded search campaigns.
  • Leverage Similar Audiences, based off your email lists, for better prospecting.
  • Consider how the layer of an email list on your paid search campaigns can influence your keyword selection. You likely have keywords that you have de-emphasized or don’t target at all due to a broad intent. With Customer Match, you can likely be more confident of the search intent for your target audience.
  • Test YouTube and Gmail Ads. For some advertisers, the contextual and audience targeting available on these networks is not enough. Knowing more about who you are targeting can now make for an interesting test.



  • Email addresses must have been collected in a first-party context (no purchased lists).
  • Provide AdWords with a link to opt out of email communications.
  • At least 1,000 matched emails per list to be eligible for targeting. Google recommends shooting for about 3,000 emails per list uploaded.


For more information on the AdWords Customer Match Policy read here.


Get to segmenting!

There is more to unpack here with Customer Match. What we discussed here are just a few ideas we’ve come up with at ROI·DNA since its recent launch. We’re looking forward to see the different ideas and use cases the industry comes up with, so reach out with any thoughts or questions!


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