Last week, Mark reported on a new Google Ads feature called Customer Match, a new targeting option that allows advertisers to create custom audiences for their Google Ads (AdWords) campaigns based on email lists that they can upload directly to Google Ads.
We knew this was a big deal, but after testing this new functionality ourselves, this is without a doubt THE most exciting AdWords update in the history of the platform.
Think I’m being dramatic? Read on to see why you NEED to start using this feature right now.
We uploaded around 357,000 customer emails to Google Ads to test Customer Match’s accuracy. This data was encrypted prior to upload to protect customer privacy:
Based on this uploaded list, Google determined that approximately 180,000 of the contacts we uploaded were using Google products:
Based on this data, we determined that, in this experiment, Customer Match had a match rate of 50.4% – holy moly!
After seeing how effective Customer Match was, I couldn’t help but wonder – what would happen if I compared the match rate of the list I uploaded to Google Ads with Facebook and Twitter’s match rate? I uploaded the exact same list into Facebook and Twitter, and I simply couldn’t believe what the data was telling me – AdWords completely crushed Twitter’s match rate, and even beat Facebook!
As you can see in the figure above, Google Ads Customer Match does an incredible job of matching advertisers’ email lists with customers using Google products. It’s even better than Facebook, and pretty much puts Twitter to shame.
It’s worth noting that while Google “won” in this test, it was a very close call. It’s also worth noting that your results may vary depending on the size of the list you upload, as well as other factors – in your tests, Facebook may well perform better than Google. Either way, both Google and Facebook are excellent platforms for identity-based marketing. One thing that’s abundantly clear from this test is that Twitter has the most work to do.
What’s most interesting to me isn’t necessarily the absolute number of matches (though that’s still pretty exciting), but rather the relative match rate comparison between two identical customer lists across the various platforms. Since this test used the same data set, it’s incredible how much more accurate Google’s matching is than Twitter’s, and that it even outperformed Facebook’s matching, which has been around for much longer.
Right out of the gate, Google has proven that its customer matching is extraordinarily powerful, much more so than we expected.
I’m not kidding when I say that I think this is the most important and exciting update to Google Ads ever. This not only allows advertisers to target prospects more efficiently, it also represents a fundamental shift in how AdWords is evolving to meet the needs of advertisers in today’s marketplace.
I’ve talked a lot about “identity-based” marketing in the past, and this just goes to show how seriously Google is taking targeting options. In my opinion, custom audiences are the most powerful aspect of paid social, and it’s thrilling to see Google Ads going in this direction, too.
Something else that advertisers should be psyched about is Customer Match’s Similar Audience functionality. This allows you to find new prospects based on parameters identified in their uploaded lists, even if they haven’t interacted with your site. In our example above, we had a match rate of more than 50%, equaling a potential audience of 180,000 people. By using Similar Audiences, we can effectively double our reach and target customers who share similar characteristics.
For advertisers running both PPC and paid social campaigns, Google Ads’ Customer Matching is the perfect logical progression. Since custom audiences are part of what makes paid social so powerful, it’s amazing that advertisers can apply these same strategies to their Google Ads campaigns, too.
At WordStream, we’re SO excited for what this will mean for advertisers, and we’ll be continuing to test just how good Customer Matching really is this week.
We’ll be live-blogging several tests as part of campaign case studies to really push Customer Match to its limit, and we’ll be sharing the results on social media, so if you’re thinking about using Customer Matching, stay tuned to find out just what this feature can do!
UPDATE: In November 2017, AdWords further expanded Customer Match to include targeting by phone number and address.
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