Earlier this month, Google announced that they would be releasing a long rumoured feature that could target users based on their email data. Liam Waites, Paid Search Marketing Manager takes a look at Google’s new feature, Customer Match.

Introducing Google AdWords Customer Match opens up an entirely new opportunity; the ability to utilise the data collected from email signups to re-engage with customers, refine campaigns and even reach new audiences. As a targeted approach has proved popular among advertisers and is yielding strong results for many, Google finally made the jump to offer similar features on their AdWords platform. The move follows in the footsteps of both Facebook and Twitter, who have both offered similar features for quite some time.

Why does it matter?

Customer match works in a similar way to remarketing lists, by uploading your own email data based users linking back to their corresponding Google accounts. This method does not rely on cookies in the way traditional remarketing tags would, meaning that users can continue to be targeted after clearing their data and more importantly across multiple devices, where they are signed into to same account. The method also allows for a high level of control over who you target as you are using your own data.

Depending specifically on data actively collected from your users, databases of emails can be filtered by dimensions such as:

  • Buying trends (allowing you to target customers who repeat purchase)
  • Products purchased (introducing cross-selling opportunities)
  • Demographics (allowing for the creation of a tailored message)
  • It could even be used to exclude current customers, if your product is a one-time purchase and therefore repeat purchase would be irrelevant.

“This new feature allows for highly personalised strategies to be implemented with the aim of reaching the right people, with the right message, at the right time.”

Customer Match will also create a ‘Similar Audiences’ list automatically for you, which contains users whose browsing activities are similar to your newly created list. While this is limited to YouTube and Gmail targeting, it could be a great tool to reach new customers and would be especially effective with websites focused around a niche.

How does this effect user privacy?

Collecting data obviously comes with legal responsibilities, which vary depending on your location. As you would expect, Google follows these practices closely and adds additional security to keep data secure and out of the wrong hands. The biggest requirement is that all data must be collected ‘first-party’- meaning that users must have shared their information directly with you – and be accompanied by their explicit consent. This rules out the use of any data that has been acquired by dubious means, shared or purchased. While it may initially be difficult for Google to police, they’re likely to clamp down on any obvious shady activity fast.

Transfer of data is secured using SHA-2, an industry standard hash algorithm, to ensure the encryption of data and ultimately, safeguard against any potential leaks of hijacking during the transfer. Once this information hits Google’s servers it will be linked to associated accounts. As they never store any of the information sent, other than the matching of accounts, the collection of data is then disregarded.

How do I start using the feature?

After logging into your AdWords account, select “shared library” from the left side navigation, then “Audiences”

Google Adwords Customer Match Step 1

Within this audiences section, select the red “+ Remarketing List” box, then “Customer emails” from the dropdown

Google Adwords Customer Match Step 2

This will then open the form below, where you can provide the file of data, list name and settings such as membership duration

Google Adwords Customer Match Step 3

Choose to ‘Upload and save list’, once complete a new list will appear in your audience tab. This can be applied to campaigns in the same way as a standard remarketing list.

In Summary

While customer match doesn’t add any new features to change how the end user can be reached, it provides a huge opportunity to personalise your marketing strategy and engage with different segments of your user base. This then opens up a world of opportunity in regards to the way you can influence their behaviour depending on their place in the purchase cycle.

We’d love to hear your thoughts on Google AdWords Customer Match. Give us a shout over on Twitter @silverbean or in the comments box below.