Google Customer Match And What It Means For Paid Search

By Richard Lamb, Vice President of Search and Blair Kerrison, Head of PPC Innovation

On Monday 28th September, Google signaled their biggest shift towards audience targeting, across their product suite, with the announcement of Google Customer Match, a product that takes YouTube, Gmail and Paid Search into Facebook Custom Audience territory.

Whilst hardly hot on the heels of the social network (Facebook) that rolled out what has become the central targeting option in 2012; Google has had to pick their way carefully through the murky waters of regulatory scrutiny, particularly in Europe.

With around 900 million Gmail addresses to match to, the new Google Customer Match product means that a typical match rate of 60% for Facebook customer data should be achievable. It also signals a strong defensive move for YouTube as Facebook’s video offering continues to move on. Although there has already been a version of this sort of targeting with Gmail, the new update truly reflects the environment and provides a decent user experience.

However, it’s within search that things really start to change. Weeks after policy changes threatened to derail moves towards a more data-centric approach to PPC targeting, Customer Match represents a leap forward for those who’ve seen the future of the medium and its move away from traditional keyword buying.

Remarketing Lists for Search Ads has been the vehicle for nascent audience buying on Google, with more advanced advertisers working with the likes of BlueKai and Adobe to overlay more sophisticated layers of audience data.

This had promised to usher in a new era but, apparently in the face of ongoing pressure around privacy, a quiet change to the T&Cs has pulled the plug.

It would now appear the change was to effectively pave the way for a more seamless approach within Google’s ecosystem – not just to push sales of the premium package of Google Analytics.

With the power of finding your own customers and those who closely resemble them on Facebook well documented, being able to overlay the intent that we see through keyword searches brings a new layer of sophistication.  

Some examples include:

Customer Match brings optimisation and insight opportunities to clients willing to share their customer lists into the Google machine. Just as there will be consumers uncomfortable with the level of targeting behind the ads they’re shown, there will be clients who think twice before sharing all with a media owner. The tangible benefits in driving down CPAs, and the confidence of going further up the funnel to a more exact audience should outweigh any concerns which will then lead to greater efficiencies and a drive incremental growth.

This article was first published on The Drum here

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