By Emma Shimmens

To the common person, it may have been NASA’s announcement of finding water on Mars that will stick in the mind from Monday 28th Sept 2015. However for all the digital marketing geeks here at Periscopix, we were way more excited about Google announcing their new product: Customer Match. What is this exciting new feature? Get the low-down here.

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For the first time ever, advertisers are being allowed to safely and securely target ads against (anonymized) customer data in AdWords across the most powerful platforms on the web; Google Search, Gmail and YouTube. We couldn’t be more excited!


Maybe it’s because they’ve finally given in to people pestering them to follow suit after Facebook and Twitter introduced CRM targeting in late 2013 and early 2014 respectively. Personally, I feel that Google have just left enough time to analyse the perfomance of these, properly consider the privacy policies and launch their own system when the time was right. All we care about is that they’ve now done it and we can get stuck in.

Through Customer Match we will now be able to upload customer and promotional email lists into AdWords as a form of targeting, meaning our (already amazing) capabilities to serve the most engaging ad at the most relevant time will be further enhanced. What could be greater than a business’ most loyal customers being served a customized ad at the start of their favourite YouTube video, when they are checking their emails or when they perform a search on Google? This will now be possible through creating an email list containing just your most valuable customers within Customer Match. On the flip side, it will also now be possible to exclude all existing customers through email addresses so that you can just serve ads to users you know are new customers.

As a further string to the bow, these targeting lists will be more stable across devices when compared to GA retargeting and RLSA which use blockable, deletable and un-mobile-friendly cookies. As long as a user is signed in to the stated email address as their ‘primary’ account, they can be targeted across desktop, tablet, mobile web and apps. The black hole of cross-device data is slowly getting smaller!


It really couldn’t be simpler. Email lists (encrypted by hashing) in the form of CSV files can be uploaded straight into the AdWords interface within Audiences as a ‘Customer emails’ remarketing list (an API with further options will be available later this month). Once uploaded, the list will be processed and email addresses will be matched to Google accounts. This can take several hours to process (12 max) and once ‘successful’ the lists will be ready for you to do what you want with them; overlay on your existing ad groups and collect data or use them to build out unique ad groups and bid as you see fit – for ‘new’ or ‘most loyal’ customers for example.

The original CSV file will be deleted within 7 days and all unmatched or duplicate email addresses with it meaning no customer information is left within the interface. Fab! As with any other audience, you can view your estimated list size and reach within the remarketing picker to help gauge potential traffic volumes – the normal limit of >1000 active users still applies so make sure you don’t go too granular. And don’t fear – once made these lists are not limited to the original lists you uploaded. You can add or remove email addresses within a given list in the shared library and soon you will be able to do so from all lists if you really need to – handy!

Anything Else?

A few things – some exciting, some not so much.

The not so much:

  • Within the Gmail platform only matched accounts are targetable; YouTube and Search can be matched to all email accounts.
  • All emails must be collected in the first-party context e.g. through your website, app or store or people registering up to a loyalty program or agreeing to receive marketing emails from you. These policies must be agreed to and a link should be provided where a user can manage their preferences for receiving emails from you.

Now that’s the boring stuff out of the way, we’ll end on the exciting:

  • There is NO LIMIT to the number of lists you can add. Each list uploaded in the interface can be a maximum of 17MB which is about 500k emails addresses. Go crazy! (the API will only allow about 10k)
  • Similar audiences will be available in Gmail and YouTube later this month – this will allow the targeting of new customers with shared interests and characteristics to your existing customers (similar to that already running in the GDN)… more fun to be had here!
  • PLA/Shopping ads have not been compatible from the launch but these will show further promise and options when introduced.

Customer Match will be globally rolled out over the next couple of weeks, so get those customer email lists ready for the fun to begin.


If you'd like to know more about Google's Customer Match, get in touch, and one of our experts will answer any questions you have.

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