By Laura Graham

Here at Merkle | Periscopix, we’re mad about targeting. Whether it be location, language, placement targeting – we love it all. So, imagine our excitement when we found out we would be able to target users directly through ad copy in accordance with their device and inclusion in audience lists. Using a simple IF function, now we can generate personalised ad copy without the hassle of splitting out users into separate ad groups.

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What's all this about?

With users wanting more relevant information based on the exact moment of their search, advertisers are having to find ways of adapting ads to the real-time context of that particular user. IF functions are a really simple way of doing this.

Like an IF function in Excel, this works by returning a specific message if a condition is met, and a default message if the condition is not met. Generating personalised ad copy has never been easier! No longer do you need to build out an infinite amount of ad groups to return personalised copy to different buckets of users. 

So Simple

Another ease of IF functions is that the inclusion of a default option means there’s no need for a static ad for the customiser to run (unlike countdown ads). Including back up text in the ad provides us with a backup should the customiser fail, and further reduces the complexity of your ad groups.

How do I set this up?

Unlike other customisers that require uploading information into business data, if functions can be set up directly in the ad. As device IF functions are currently only available for mobile, the device formula looks like this:

{=IF(device=mobile,mobile specific text):default text}

In the mobile specific text, you can provide mobile specific messaging or CTAs, as well as providing a default option for all desktop and tablet users.

Mobile Search

Mobile IF

Desktop Search

Desktop IF

For audience, it’s just as simple. Input the audience lists that you want to receive a specific message, leaving the default text for the remainder of the traffic. Audience IF functions are compatible with all audiences that are available to use within AdWords – including RLSAs, GA audiences, Customer Match and Similar Users lists. Now you can input different CTAs, promotions or offer codes based on the intent and characteristics of the user list.

{=IF(audience IN (audience name 1, audience name 2),audience specific text):default text}

First Time User

First Time User

Returning User

Returning User

Sounds easy! Why should I test these?

Before you start testing, it’s worth noting a few disadvantages with the current IF function set up. Currently we can’t segment by audience at an ad level, so if you’re setting up audience IF functions with multiple audiences there will be no data on which audience saw the specific ad. Also, as we can’t segment in this way, there’s currently a lack of reporting options as data must be looked at from the audiences tab (where you’re unable to see if any of your ads were shown the default option).

Despite this, we’ve seen some pretty strong results across the board in industries covering everything from e-commerce to accountancy. We recently looked at mobile device data over a 6-week period for a client in the energy industry. Mobile CTR was 5.7% higher in the IF functions ads, and mobile conversion rate was as much as 26% stronger from the ads with the mobile call to action. 

IF Function Test

Conversion Rate IF Function

Whether you want to test these through drafts and experiments or ad rotation settings – there’s no denying that tailoring your ads at scale allows us to speak to the user in a more relevant way. Ads are the bread and butter of paid search and it’s important we don’t overlook this in our day to day optimisations.

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