June 25, 2019
Effects of Google’s New Mobile Search Ad Format
Over the next few weeks, Google is rolling out Customer Match, which allows advertisers to upload a list of email addresses that automatically matches to logged-in users on Google. Advertisers can then target these users, exclude them, or bid them up or down on Google Search, YouTube, and Gmail. Similar to RLSA, this gives advertisers another way to target customers who have previously interacted with the brand.
In addition to targeting these users directly, advertisers can also generate Similar Audiences to reach a similar group of new prospects on YouTube and Gmail. At this time, Similar Audiences are not available for Google Search. Interestingly, Google does allow Similar Audiences generated from remarketing audiences to be used on the Google Display Network (GDN). But Similar Audiences from Customer Match cannot be used on the GDN. That might be a limitation based on targeting logged-in users and/or privacy concerns.
Like Customer Match in general (which mimics Facebook’s Custom Audiences), these Similar Audiences are Google’s response to Facebook’s Lookalike targeting. Facebook has seen tremendous success with Custom Audiences, and their Lookalike Audiences take that success further by allowing advertisers to reach potentially millions of new customers. Lookalike Audiences often perform so well on Facebook that they are considered a best practice for Facebook advertising.
In contrast, Google’s Similar Audiences based on remarketing lists have not performed as strongly and they don’t generate nearly the same level of interest as Facebook’s Lookalike targeting. With Google rolling out new Similar Audiences for Customer Match email lists, expect a renewed focus from Google on improving their version of Lookalike targeting.
Overall, this is another step by Google to add more behavioral targeting for their core Search and Display products. For quite some time, it’s not been enough to simply look at a particular search query or contextual placement. Instead, advertisers must also consider geography, time of day, device, income, age, gender, previous site visits, stage of purchase funnel, and numerous other factors. Facebook with its trove of user data will continue to push Google to innovate, and advertisers should expect more behavioral targeting options from Google in the future.