The Oban Blog

Google customer match: What you need to know!

Google chose the recent Ad Week New York to announce its new advertising product: Google Customer Match. Google’s aim is to help both large and small advertisers target consumers when they are most likely to engage with their messaging.

The search engine giant can hardly be credited with striding ahead when it comes to customer targeting. Facebook launched its Customer Audiences in 2012, which allows brands to use their offline client database to find customers online and then market to them directly; or use audience profiling tools to find audiences similar to their client base. However, for Google this is still a major move towards an audience-centric approach.

What does this mean for your paid media strategy?

Google Customer Match is available internationally and there are clear opportunities for multinational brands to use this new functionality. If you are entering a new market without a large client base, being able to use known audience profiles to find similar audiences will help you to build your brand.

Where you have already had positive interactions with a customer, Customer Match provides the added advantage to talk to a customer that already knows you and to serve them a personalised message. This advantage is particularly significant at those key touchpoints in the customer purchasing journey when they are researching and comparison shopping prior to making a buying decision – what Google terms the ‘zero moments of truth’. These are the moments when brands need to maximise their presence in front of the customer – the better visibility you have during these moments (whether on search results page or on wider internet through Display and YouTube re-marketing) the better chance you have to favourably influence the customer to shop with you.

In terms of the customer journey, this feature is going to be tactically important for prospecting as well as re-engagement and brand loyalty building activities.

An example of a prospecting campaign can be where the Customer Match feature is used to target the existing customer base with information around new product launches. With the similar audience feature, we can relatively quickly expand our reach, while ensuring that we still have a well targeted campaign.

Previously we used cookie-based visitor data as a targeting base for our re-engagement campaigns. Now we can use your customer data base to do it, so we are no longer constrained by the maximum cookie period which is 6 months for re-marketing lists. This means that we can reach out to a customer who purchased a Winter coat from you in your January 2015 Sale with new Winter catalogue ads, as well as Christmas deals!

Using a sophisticated audience management system together with Google Customer Match, we can now do cross-device, cross-channel personalised campaigns for each customer segment. This really allows us to put your customer at the centre of your marketing plan.

The feature also lends itself brilliantly to branding exercises. Focusing on Google inventory across its Display, Mobile and YouTube networks, we can now support highly targeted content lead brand building campaigns in a cost efficient manner. Content that actually answers customers’ requirements, whether it is case studies, product guides or industry insights, is ideal for establishing new relationships in foreign markets.

Balancing your paid media mix

In terms of channel mix, the accuracy of targeting offered through the new Customer Match is likely to encourage many brands to consider expanding their campaign mix to include more Video and Display. So for example, if you are a travel operator with a customer who has already booked a family August holiday for four to Turkey; you will be able show targeted Search and Display ads to this specific person in the future. It may be that you want to simply target them at the same time next year with interesting holiday destinations tailored to their interests or look at enticing them with half term and Easter holiday offers.

To make these campaigns more scalable, brands and advertisers will look to aggregate similar sets of customers to create specific segments and personas. Brands with large client data bases, well maintained and connected Customer Relationship Management (CRM) systems and effective analytics will be able to fully realise the opportunities with personalisation and cross-selling.

Pitfalls to avoid

For Customer Match to be effective, you will need to have a fairly rigorous audience management system in place. You will also need to look at the sizes of your customer data bases as Customer Match will have the most potential for those with larger audiences. Do consider the frequency with which you target a customer – it could be easy to become “spammy” especially given the ability to transcend device.

Don’t forget to consider the potential conflict with existing remarketing, this may mean that you will need to exclude certain lists which could limit your audience size. To ensure integrated yet contextually relevant messaging across devices and platforms, advertisers will need to focus on ad copy personalisation, testing and ongoing optimisation.

Currently neither Russia’s Yandex nor China’s Baidu appear to offer a similar customer match product, however, you can be sure that where Google leads other major search engines will follow.


To find out more about Google Customer Match and your campaigns, contact your Oban International Client Partner.

Not a client? Give us a call to find out how we can drive your international online performance, contact James on 01273 613 413 or email [email protected]

On Twitter and LinkedIn? So are we, connect with us here @ObanDigital LinkedIn