Google Launches Customer Match: How to Maximize the Opportunity

Google's Customer Match and finding look alikes in Paid SearchGoogle’s Customer Match announcement earlier this week is welcome news to advertisers who have run successful first-party digital advertising campaigns with other media partners such as Facebook, Twitter, and the DSPs.  Google’s new product will enable advertisers to target their first-party data in search, You Tube, and Gmail. Advertisers upload their email files into the AdWords interface, and then Google matches it to their log-in data. From there, ads show to matched individuals.

Google has enabled first-party targeting with RLSA for some time but never before allowed it for search, which they said was due to privacy concerns. While this has frustrated digital marketers who particularly like and rely on Facebook’s Custom Audience product due to its strong performance, the privacy reasoning was in sync with other measures Google has taken in recent years such as eliminating the keyword in organic search queries.That said, the industry has been buzzing about this new offering since the Spring with many excited that it actually came to fruition.

The three biggest opportunities for Customer Match are in the areas of CRM, Acquisition, and Channel Expansion.

On the CRM side, targeting current customers will enable search marketers to go deeper and broader in paid search. Like RLSA, it is now possible to go after more general and/or otherwise marginal keywords because of the better intelligence available on the user.  Most search marketers are not schooled in CRM, so learning about segmentation and how to leverage it effectively will be a learning curve for some.

The Acquisition side represents the largest opportunity with Customer Match. Similar Audiences is a feature Google has offered for years which is derived from browsing history and contextual signals in the display network. With Customer Match, Similar Audiences will now be created and modeled from the advertiser’s first-party data making it exponentially more powerful.  With most advertisers prioritizing acquisition over sales from current customers, a successful look-alike model in paid search represents a huge opportunity for growth. This is especially promising given the strong performance of Facebook’s own look-alike program, which is derived from modeling first-party data from their Custom Audiences product.

In terms of Channel Expansion, many direct response advertisers haven’t had good luck getting You Tube ad units to perform acceptably on an ROI-basis. Gmail ads haven’t done much better.  With a huge leg up now being able to target not only current customers but also bonafide look alikes, it is possible these new channels will finally open up for D.R.

With the rapid advancement of first-party data targeting in digital media programs over the past two years, one hopes that the advertiser’s house is in order on the CRM side.  If not, there is no better time than now to strengthen this capability in order to take full advantage of these exciting new media opportunities.

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