The world of search and paid ads has never been busier.
It’s a hotly contested space where marketers need to do everything they can to inspire customers to choose their ad.
Consumers value their privacy more than ever before, but they have also grown accustomed to ads that are hyper-relevant to them.
Nurturing first-party customer data acquisition is of increasing urgency. But this can only happen if customers click on your ad in the first place.
The more personalized and relevant an ad, the more customers are likely to come your way. Then, you can convert and retain them and their highly valuable data.
One incredibly useful tool that seems to have flown under the radar recently is ad customizers. These allow advertisers to dynamically tailor their ads to incredible advantage.
What Is an Ad Customizer, Anyway?
Ad customizers are most definitely not new. In fact, they have been around since late 2014.
They’re generally thought of as useful when it comes to seasonal events such as Mothers Day, Valentines Day, Halloween, and Christmas, or more generally just used for sales times.
But ad customizers can do much more than instilling a sense of urgency by adding a countdown.
In fact, Google released them with the vision that they would allow advertisers to leverage on their business data to dynamically create more relevant and personalized experiences.
Why Ad Customisers?
Oftentimes, we think of ad customizers as nothing more than an add-on.
It seems like they do nothing other than making the search ads process even more complicated. And it’s fair to say that it’s already complicated enough.
Ad customizers can allow you to make simple changes to your ads, yes. This can be something like adding a countdown to a sale or adding some simple information about your products.
Now, don’t get me wrong that this in itself is helpful as it allows you to tailor your ads even more to the particular customer.
Yet, we know that consumers are becoming increasingly savvy and so we need to ensure that our ads are doing everything they can to stand out in a saturated market.
As cookies are on the way out, digital marketing and marketers have to turn to other means of personalization.
Ad customizers are one way this brave, new, cookieless world can be navigated.
So, can these ad customizers be used as more than a simple add-on?
Can they really take our ads to the next level so customers can have the most personalized experience possible while privacy remains paramount?
And can we do all of this and also give businesses more information?
I think yes.
Let’s start by looking at the key benefits of ad customizers.
Benefits of Ad Customizers
The benefits of using ad customizers can be summarised as follows:
Customizers allow for more dynamic and personalized ads. With the insertion of values such as the product name and price, or referencing the user location in the ad, these can be made more relevant without having to create an infinite number of ad variations – which brings us to the next point
Customizers allow advertisers to easily scale their campaigns without the effort it would take if you were to set up different ad groups and campaigns to cover multiple locations, or products. Instead, just one ad could be used for that
Also, customizers allow advertisers to have consistent data. Since the variables are dynamically changed, the ad itself doesn’t change, meaning that the number of impressions, clicks, cost, etc won’t be reset every time. This is incredibly helpful when analyzing and reporting on performance
Now, let’s dive into how we can make the best use of ad customizers.
Ad Customizers in Action
When it comes to execution, there are four key areas that ad customizers allow marketers to target: Location, Time, Product, and Audience.
Within each of these, customizers can be an invaluable tool for your ad campaign, saving advertisers money and delivering more to consumers.
Additionally, by combining ad customizers with other tools like the tracking template, or the IF function, ads become even more effective.
The first target is one of the most important. As a real estate agent would say, it’s all about location, location, location.
For example, rather than simply adding “Sydney” to your ad to slightly increase its relevance to the customer, ad customizers allow you to dynamically produce results for smaller areas like the postal code or the user’s physical location.
This is particularly useful when it comes to those increasingly popular “near me” searches.
As we know, searches with the “near me” qualifier have increased dramatically since COVID-19 came along (which deterred consumers from having to venture too far from their homes).
For example, you have a customer who is searching for [iPhone 12 near me].
Imagine the power of an ad being served in response that says “Buy your iPhone 12 in Neutral Bay from $1,099 Today.”
In this instance, the consumer literally feels as though they have been spoken to.
Now you could do this by creating campaigns that target each suburb in Sydney.
But using a simple feed and your business data (plus a tracking template), it’s possible to not only show the user’s location in the ad itself but also update the results page that you serve them.
To return once more to the iPhone example — when a customer searches for [iPhone 12 near me] – your tracking template would amend the URL to contain information that is directly relevant to their physical location.
It seems remiss not to reiterate that statement because it has such a massive impact on personalized ads.
When the customer clicks through from an ad, they are served dynamic content that is tailored to their exact location.
To make a third jump back to the iPhone example and our Sydney-based customer in the example above: this would mean that you could show all your Sydney stores at the top of the page and ordered by the proximity to that user’s location.
This greatly increases the likelihood of the customer’s engagement.
Remember the fine line between privacy and personalization when it comes to ads?
Well, this kind of content perfectly balances on that tightrope and shows the customers exactly what they want to see, when they want to see it, and (most importantly) where they want to see it.
Time is most definitely of the essence when it comes to search.
After all, seasonality often comes into play when displaying relevant ads.
Imagine a Valentine’s Day ad being served on February 16 – consumers are either sad or over the entire thing.
That’s why this add-on is a great tool for businesses to use during sales. It allows advertisers to schedule ads to display within a given time period or in the lead-up to a specific event.
To think of a slightly happier Valentine’s Day-related example, imagine a florist who wants to provide specific offers in the weeks leading up to Valentine’s Day.
The other incredibly useful thing about the time add-on is that it allows you to create a sense of urgency and automatically sets up tailored, relevant ads without the micromanagement or time spent to alter the ads each day or even weeks at a time.
After all, time is money – for you and the consumer!
To customize the ads around your products might seem a little less straightforward than the previous two I elaborated on.
However, this allows us to use our feed and business data to create relevant ads without having to create hundreds of ad groups for all the different colors and models that you may have available.
Once again, cast your mind back to the iPhone customer.
This time, let’s imagine the customer doesn’t only want an iPhone, but to buy a purple iPhone from a close-by shop.
Well, the customizer allows you to serve a relevant ad that has all of that information already inbuilt.
This saves hours of precious time where you’d otherwise be building campaigns and ad groups for each variant of your product.
In the example below, try to imagine how much time and effort it might take to create ad groups and ads specific to each and every possible washing machine SKU.
I bet you can’t.
Honestly, in your busy day-to-day, does any advertiser really have time for that?
Does anyone have time for that?
Lastly, let’s delve into how ad customizers can be used to leverage the audience targeting.
In this case, the business data can be used to segregate customers and then serve each segment personalized messaging using the campaign target field within the business data feed.
For example, a financial services provider could create multiple campaigns targeting different locations and audiences and have variable interest rates that automatically update in the ads.
Or a retail business could use this function to change the level of discount offered to a customer list without having to change the ads.
Imagine a digital marketing conference happening in September 2021. If we wanted to advertise tickets and offer an early bird discount to previous year purchasers, we could set up an ad offering them a whopping 50% off if they sign up before May 30th.
Their discount offer would then drop to 30% on June 1st.
At the same time, users signed up to the newsletter could be offered 40% to start with, and a 30% discount on June 1st, and so on and so forth for all our audience lists.
One way to manage this would be creating multiple ads, labels, and rules to schedule them on and off.
However, with the help of ad customizers, we could easily use the campaign target field coupled with a field for the discount in our feed and easily change the discount level without having to have multiple versions of the ads.
Once again, the ad customizer is another invaluable tool that helps give that level of personalization that consumers have become so accustomed to.
When it comes to paid search, I’m going to bet my bottom dollar that you want to do everything you possibly can to stand out from the crowd.
Why not give ad customizers a go?
Targeting people with specific ads where you can customize elements like Location, Time, Product, and Audience is an invaluable tool and one that is seriously underutilized.
As competition online gets increasingly fierce, you need to be doing what you can to serve not only relevant but highly personalized ads that give consumers what they want, when they want, and where they want!
After all, as our days with cookies dwindle away, you need a clear customer strategy that is going to help your business create and nurture your own audience and customer list.
Genuine engagement based upon an exchange of meaningful value will have to form the core of this strategy.
Ad customizers might only be one little ingredient of this overall recipe, but they can most definitely be a powerful one.
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Featured Image: Created by author, May 2021
All screenshots taken by author, May 2021