What Is Customer Match? AdWords’ Powerful New Remarketing Tool

In September of 2015, Google AdWords announced a new online marketing tool called Customer Match that they would introduce late in the year. Customer Match is a pay-per-click (PPC) remarketing strategy that allows businesses to advertise to their current leads and customers. Marketing to previous customers is a cost-effective approach to sales, as a 2013 study found that 70% of the businesses surveyed reported that customer retention is less expensive than customer acquisition. Further data suggests that businesses may spend seven times more to acquire a new customer rather than retaining one.

Customer Match offers companies the ability to remarket to previous customers and leads that are in their email database. Twitter and Facebook also provide similar services with Tailored Audiences and Custom Audience respectively.

Customer Match AdWords with Google Logo

How does AdWords Customer Match work?


A company can submit its database of email addresses of former and current customers and leads to AdWords. Google will then compare these addresses to its own database of users. Any accounts that are a match (addresses in the company database that are Gmail, or other domains that are connected to a Gmail account) can then be remarketed to, provided that the consumer is logged into Google or Youtube.


This can be more effective than traditional remarketing which uses cookies to identify consumers and display ads to them for a business after they navigate away from its website. However, cookies can easily be deleted, and aren’t functional between browsers or devices. Customer Match, targets consumers with ads on any browser or device when they are logged into their account.


Companies spend time and money attempting to acquire the contact information of potential customers. They then use this database to target consumers through email marketing. While this method continues to be effective, marketing emails average only an 18.22% open rate.


Unlike email marketing, where one can simply choose to not open the email, Customer Match ads will be displayed to the consumer (on a PPC pricing structure to the advertiser) when they check their email, perform a Google search, or view content on Youtube. The advantage of this is that it can help a brand remain top of mind with consumers that have already shown interest in the product or service. As of this writing, AdWords does not offer Customer Match advertising on the Google Display Network, though it is possible this may change in the future.


After matching the email addresses (which generally takes between 12 and 24 hours), AdWords can create a “similar audiences” list, which will target users who have not engaged with the brand, but share demographics, interests and browsing habits with the matched users. This is beneficial to the brand, as it is exposed to a new, yet like-minded audience. Google builds the similar audiences list automatically, however incorporating the feature into a campaign is optional.


Google AdWords requires every campaign to provide an opt-out option to consumers. Each time a Customer Match ad is displayed, it will be accompanied by a small link that reads “why this ad?” This link will lead to a form where the user can submit their email address. After doing so, they will no longer be targeted by Customer Match advertising from the company running the campaign. This form is provided by the advertising company, not by Google, and is required by AdWords prior to initiating a Customer Match campaign.


The future of Customer Match.


Google AdWords Customer Match is currently geared towards medium to large sized businesses, as Google requires that the uploaded email database be no less than one thousand addresses. However, this is a fledgling tool, and Google will certainly be developing and altering its abilities over time. If Customer Match proves to be successful, it is a safe bet that Google will offer it to smaller businesses as well. In the meantime, this tool presents a number of benefits to larger companies, and may significantly change the face of online marketing.


Learn more about paid search and PPC advertising for businesses in 2016.