Google has remained a pioneer in search not only for the quality of the results they suggest, but also their ability to deliver great products to advertisers. They have just taken another jump forward with that second point by introducing a new concept: Google Customer Match. Customer Match isn’t an entirely original idea, but they way Google is implementing it is sure to shake up the advertising world yet again and demonstrate why Google is still the top dog in advertising.
The basic idea behind Customer Match is that Google is now allowing advertisers to use their internal email lists to condition their ad purchases. For example, if an advertiser has a list of subscribers, it can tweak its ad bids so that its own subscribers never see its ads. That way, they are only paying to advertise to people who are newcomers to the brand’s service.
The concept is very similar to ideas that Facebook and Twitter implemented recently, but Google’s broader reach of services makes it much more effective. Users of Twitter and Facebook are engaged on those platforms, but advertisers there don’t have a reach beyond social media. On the other hand, Google has many different services that hundreds of millions of people use every day. The Customer Match product is available across Youtube, search, and any other Google service that people use. As long as it involves a Google login, Google will allow customers to match Gmail accounts to their advertising bids.
There are a lot of potentially creative ways for advertisers to tap into Customer Match for much better targeting. For example, an advertiser that has a group of subscribers can decide to serve two sets of ads: one for current subscribers and one for non-subscribers. The ads for non-subscribers are designed to attract people to get engaged with the brand, and the ad for subscribers might show off a new product or service that the company is rolling out. These are two very different audiences, so it doesn’t make sense to show them both the same ads. Advertisers could do things that are more advanced as well. For example, they could use their own customer lifetime value model to assign a value for each subscriber or customer for which they have an email address. Then they could scale every ad bid so that the advertiser bids more for more valuable customers. Advertisers could also just use their own internal information about the people behind those email addresses to enhance their targeting. By knowing the gender and purchase history of the account owners, advertisers can set up different ads to serve to different kinds of customers.
It’s a good time to start moving towards individually targeted ads. Customers are less susceptible to advertising than they have been in the past due to overexposure. When people read a site or make a search, they have become accustomed to just ignoring ads of all kinds. To get them back into the habit of seeing that ads can bring them value, ads have to become more closely related to their interests. The great promise of the Internet was being able to reach a huge range of people, and the concept of Big Data has added on the idea that companies can harvest customer data and tap into it for better targeting. Until now, though, the possibility of individually targeted ads on Google was more conceptual than reality. Now, advertisers can actually make use of all the data they have collected, giving them an unprecedented level of control over who sees their ads and whether they can choose to display different ads to different people.
This is a very exciting development. Better ad targeting leads to better outcomes- that’s just common sense. But as ad-blockers and customer attitudes make reaching out with ads harder and harder, advertisers really needed the boost. It remains to be seen how exactly different advertisers will take advantage of their new powers to match ads to email addresses, but the fact that the option exists is enough to inspire all kinds of new ideas. This will allow marketers to concentrate their advertising dollars on campaigns that offer the best ROI simply by focusing on the customer information that they have on hand. Customer Match will be a boon to advertisers, and Google surely has even more ad products in the works for the near future.