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Google’s AdWords Customer Match lets advertisers upload their customer and promotional email address lists into AdWords. This feature has been available since September of last year; however, few have realised the untapped potential this tool provides. This AdWords enhancement comes from Google’s push to cater to advertiser first-party data in order to drive clicks through search ads rather than organic results.

First, the advertiser uploads an email list to their AdWords campaign and once the campaign is launched, Google matches the email addresses against those of signed-in users. The individual addresses are hashed and anonymized because Customer Match was designed around user privacy. This advertising method presents the advertiser with a unique opportunity to set bids and create ads specifically geared to audiences built from their in-house email lists. Additionally, Similar Audiences for Customer Match lists can be targeted on YouTube and Gmail.

Another product that has been available for a little while, Remarketing Lists for Search Ads (RLSA), allows users to bid on and serve ads tailored to custom audiences of previous visitors to their site when they search on Google. These remarketing lists are built with cookies, which users can delete or block, and aren’t suited for mobile, and so, advertisers can miss a proportion of site users. However, email addresses and user sign-ins are more reliable and can be tracked across devices, making AdWords Customer Match so valuable.

AdWords Similar Audiences already exist for retargeting lists on the Google Display Network. The audience lists built this way are based on user browsing patterns on sites in the Display Network as well as contextual comparisons to users in the advertiser’s traditional remarketing lists. This data is used to find new users with shared interests and characteristics. Now, those Similar Audiences lists can also be built based on the activity of CRM audiences.

To get started with AdWords Customer Match, advertisers perform the upload of their email lists to audiences within AdWords. There is no limit to the number of lists you can upload, however, you have to be careful when using it, as there are rules that prevent you being able to use this feature with impunity.

The core benefit of AdWords Customer Match is the enablement of utilizing an advertiser’s wealth of first-party data they have accumulated. You, as an advertiser, can make these lists as large as you want, and segment them in any way you want – the possibilities are endless. Since you have a suite of information for each email address (shipping address, name, website behaviour), you can peg patterns (or value) to each Customer Match audience that you construct which allows you to refine ad messaging and bidding.

Our platform (ESV Digital) supports Customer Match lists, along with other forms of remarketing audiences, so that we can scale up remarketing efforts and enhance granularity of structure. Interested in using your first-party data? Send us an email to

1 February 2016