Google Ads: Say Hello to Instant Match Rates on Customer Match Lists!

May 12, 2021
Posted in Paid Search
May 12, 2021 Jen Lopez

Google Ads: Say Hello to Instant Match Rates on Customer Match Lists!

If you’re a longtime PPC marketer, you’re likely familiar with Customer Match – the feature that allows advertisers to upload a list of first-party customer data to their Google Ads account for stronger remarketing or exclusion purposes. And, if you’re familiar, you’ll be pleased to know that on Thursday, April 29, Google Ads announced they will now be showing instant estimated match rates upon upload! This means we can be clearer in setting expectations with our clients and stakeholders as we launch new initiatives and can better project performance instantaneously.

What is Customer Match?

Customer Match is a feature in Google Ads that allows advertisers to upload a list of their existing customer data to their account. Once uploaded, Google Ads works to match back the information in the uploaded list to any Google accounts on their side. For example, if you provided a list of emails and Google could trace back a Google account with that email address (either as a primary or backup), Google Ads would be able to find a “match” for that customer and serve ads to them, or exclude them from seeing ads, depending on how you set up your Google Ads campaigns. The tricky part always is that these lists take a while to process in Google Ads – typically 1-3 days. And, then if and when you remembered to re-check your list, you’d find that Google couldn’t find ALL the people on your list. The percentage of people they COULD find becomes your match rate – so you’re actually targeting or excluding less people than you had aimed to.

Why is Match Rate Important?

Explaining match rate upfront to clients or stakeholders is always recommended, as it speaks to how the campaigns using the list will perform – in some cases – if they are even able to serve! Remember, many remarketing campaigns for Google won’t even serve with less than 1,000 users on a given list. The problem was, that advertisers usually didn’t have the data upfront so we would provide estimates off of what they’d seen historically. For our clients, we typically see a 69-85% match rate, so when discussing the option of Customer Match with our clients, we need to make sure the list size would even be “healthy” enough in terms of size to serve before having them track down the data for us. 

What Impacts Match Rate?

Many variables can affect match rate, but the one we’ve found the most valuable is the recency of the data collected, which is why we like to refresh our Customer Match lists often – for many clients at least every 90 days. We’ve also found that for B2B clients, when providing only work-emails for Customer Match, we tend to get lower matching. It’s definitely not impossible for a user to have a Google account (not a Gmail account, just a Google account) tied to a work email address, especially if they’ve used Google Drive or another Google service, but it’s just not as frequent as when we are uploading personal email addresses.

Why is an Instant Match Rate Exciting?

Having an instant (estimated) match rate sooner, based on an actual list upload, allows us to communicate to our clients quicker and help them make decisions faster. We’ll know right after upload now if a list is big enough to serve ads against, if it’s a good quality list or a poor one, and if we’re able to use it for the tactics we’ve chosen. We’ll also be able to back out budget for the campaign quicker based on how many users are on the list, our frequency capping, etc. Anytime that we can provide more context for our clients or pivot quicker when needed is an absolute win for us and our clients!