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Google’s Customer Match Seems Like a Match for Facebook Retargeting

Posted on the 08 March 2016 by Shellykramer @ShellyKramer

FINAL Googles Customer Match Seems Like a Match for Facebook RetargetingYou’ve likely used Facebook retargeting (or the Custom Audience feature) to reengage your audience on social media a time or two. Now, Google has just released Customer Match, and—while they both have significant value in the advertising space—it could just give Facebook a run for its money. Here’s what it is and why you need to know about it now. 

All About Google’s Customer Match

In the flurry of late September’s Advertising Week in New York City, Google made two big announcements: It has embraced a “Universal App Campaign” enabling advertisers to feature app install ads across the Google-dom—aka search, Google Play, Google Display Network and a little site called YouTube. That’s a pretty big deal for advertisers, and you can read more about it here. The other announcement was that Google has birthed a new AdWords feature called Customer Match, causing ad departments everywhere to cut out of work early and toast in celebration.

Well, maybe that’s a slight exaggeration.

Essentially, Customer Match allows advertisers to upload their own email lists (from CRMs) into AdWords, which are then matched to signed-in users on Google. Then, they can target campaigns at particular audiences across Google platforms. You can also generate “Similar Audiences” based on your initial upload, identifying those who will likely be interested in what you have to say.

To explain how and why exactly this works, Google’s blog post included this example that puts it all into perspective:

“Let’s say you’re a travel brand. You can now reach people who have joined your rewards program as they plan their next trip. For example, when these rewards members search for “non-stop flights to new york” {sic} on, you can show relevant ads at the top of their search results on any device right when they’re looking to fly to New York. And when those members are watching their favorite videos on YouTube or catching up on Gmail, you can show ads that inspire them to plan their next trip.”

Got it? Wait. There’s more.

Healthy Competition with Facebook’s Custom Audiences

This concept of targeting a particular audience when it comes to real-time online advertising is not a new one. Facebook has been doing it with its Custom Audience feature—commonly known as Facebook retargeting—for some time and with great success. With Facebook’s Custom Audiences, much like with Google’s Customer Match, you can nurture leads, build brand loyalty and stay top of mind for particular groups of consumers.

Facebook retargeting is a great, high ROI tool that you should be using to round out your social marketing efforts, and it was the main horse in the race for a while. While the two are absolutely not mutually exclusive, Google’s Customer Match may be pulling ahead and about to take the lead when it comes to two important areas: Intent and context.

It’s All in the Intent…

In the blog post that teased the release, Google talked about brand’s capturing those “intent-rich” instances—the “I-want-to-know, I-want-to-go, I-want-to-do, and I-want-to-buy moments.”

When did you last go to Facebook and think, “I want to buy something” or “I want to do something?” Probably not very often, as many on social media use the platform to connect with people and—let’s be honest—kill time in the airport or avoid eye contact while in line for coffee. While it’s a useful tool on a human level, it’s not really made for action. (Changing your relationship status does not count as action.)

Google, on the other hand? I’m not saying nobody kills time on Google, and I’m sure search histories can prove that. Search, though—the very thing we do on Google—is a verb. It doesn’t get any more action or intent-oriented than that.

…and the Context.

Your high school composition teacher isn’t the only one to ever talk about the importance of context. In both Facebook retargeting and Google’s Customer Match, we’re talking about reengaging an audience that has already given your brand some attention. With Customer Match, though, you can target the campaign you’re showing those already-interested consumers based on where they’re currently hanging out online. Those logged-in locations, by default, have certain actions associated with them (see above where I talked about intent).

What does this mean? You can show someone on YouTube an ad for a webinar or a campaign that’s otherwise highly visually oriented, because that would fit the context of the current activity. They are already logged-in and in the mood to watch, so the context of the interaction is built-in. With Facebook retargeting, you can show the ad on—well, on Facebook. And there’s nothing wrong with that (because it’s popular and it’s working). However, as all good marketers know, anytime you can build-in functionality, both consumers and advertisers benefit.

So What Now?

If you’re an advertiser and you haven’t yet checked out Customer Match, it’s probably time to log into AdWords and navigate to the ‘Audiences’ tab. Pull your email list out of your CRM (a minimum of 1000), fill out the form and wait up to three hours for Google to upload and verify your file. When it’s completed, add the list to your campaign and begin showing targeted ads to those signed-in on your platform of choice.

If you’ve been running paid social and PPC campaigns in the past, you’ll definitely want to consider Customer Match because you’ll be applying the same uber-attractive ‘custom audience’ principle to your AdWords campaigns. Sounds like a winning combination to me—at least so far.

Customer Match just rolled out of the Google think-tank in late September and became a reality a couple of weeks later. It’s still in IT infancy, but that hasn’t stopped positive reviews from rolling in. While it doesn’t make Facebook retargeting obsolete by any means, it definitely gives advertisers the opportunity to cover more ground (and a bigger footprint to use while doing so).

Whether or not you’re an advertiser yourself, I’m confident you have some thoughts on Customer Match. Do you foresee any privacy backlash from consumers and, if so, how well do you think that can be mitigated? If you’ve already logged in to Customer Match, what has been your experience? Were you wowed by the results or left wanting more? How did it compare with your results from Facebook retargeting?

Additional Resources on this Topic:

The SMB Step-by-Step Guide to Facebook Retargeting
Google Targets Intent With Email, YouTube And Search Matching And Universal App Campaigns
How to Use AdWords’ Customer Match: The Ultimate Guide

A version of this post was originally published on The Marketing Scope.

Photo Credit: stephen.moyer86 via Compfight cc

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