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How to Unleash The Power of AdWords Ad Customizers

In late September, AdWords rolled out ad customizers. Similar to Google Shopping, these ads allow for a more personalized experience.

How to Unleash The Power of AdWords Ad Customizers

Since the announcement in 2012 that all Google shopping feed clicks would be charged, shopping spend and product capabilities have significantly increased. According to the Rimm Kaufman Group’s Q2 2014 digital marketing report, Google Shopping ads accounted for 26% of all Google search clicks. Shopping ads continue to be an attention grabber for searchers.

The loser in the shopping movement has been the traditional text ad. No longer can advertisers expect even the most relevant and well-written text ad will get the click.

Users searching for products want to compare images, prices, and brands right away. Google Shopping ads accommodate all of these features immediately. Even with the bevy of ad extensions, text ads still could not match the value that Shopping ads provide.

Until now.

Ad Customizers

In late September, AdWords rolled out ad customizers. Similar to Google Shopping, these ads allow for a more personalized experience. Advertisers are able to upload data, similar to how they would with a shopping feed, so text ads are dynamically generated based upon the search. Google offers a variety of ad customizers, including:

  • Model – The specific product name
  • Brand – The product’s brand
  • Price – The cost of the product
  • Starting Price – The starting price of the product category
  • Countdown – How many days or hours are left until a specific time

Here’s an example directly from Google’s help center. The first image contains the custom parameters while the second image shows how the ad would look.

Image of ad customizersScreenshot taken 10/9/2014 of
Image of live ad customizersScreenshot taken 10/9/2014 of

A complete list of ad customizers with examples can be found here.

Though it will take some trial and error, setting up ad customizers will be important as they better help text ads compete for the click against Shopping ads.

Setup and Sample Usage

To find the ad customizers, go into the “Business data” section of the AdWords Shared Library. Here you will implement your ad customizer data.

Image of business dataScreenshot taken 10/9/2014 of

Google provide a template which allows you to easily input your custom attributes and associated data. Let’s take a look at an example.

Suppose we are advertising for a company that sells Halloween costumes. With October being the busiest month of the year, we have a full inventory of costumes. The most popular categories of costumes include superheroes, cartoons, and video games. Utilizing our template, we’ll first create ad customizers for the more general campaigns and keywords (ie: superhero costumes, cartoon character costumes, etc). Here is an example of the excel document we would upload to Google.We’ll name the file “Halloween.”

Image of business data upload

For each ad group we would then write an ad(s) with our custom parameters. Here’s an example for the “Superheroes – General” ad group.

Image of Halloween ad customizersScreenshot taken 10/9/14 of

In this ad we are using three custom parameters, pulled from our “Halloween” document. The parameters include:

  • Brand – Superhero
  • Num_models – 100
  • Start_price – $39.95

Thus, a search for “superhero costumes” would yield our ad with the dynamic variables in place.

Image of live Halloween adScreenshot taken 10/9/14 of

Why should we use ad customizers instead of creating a static ad that contains this same information? Anytime a variable changes (such as number of models in stock), you’d have to update each individual ad. With ad customizers, you just have to update once in the Business data section and all ads will reflect the change.

Setting a Countdown

Let’s say we want to add a sense of urgency to our ads by counting down until a sale ends. The particular sale is for 10% off and ends at 2 PM on 10/25. The countdown parameter is formatted as so:

{=COUNTDOWN (“yyyy/mm/dd hh:mm:ss”)}

Thus, the countdown parameter for this sale would look like:

{=COUNTDOWN (“2014/10/25 14:00:00”)}

Here’s the ad with the custom parameters. Note that we removed the “Start_price” parameter.

Image of Halloween countdown adScreenshot taken 10/9/14 of

And here is what the ad looks like in the wild.

Image of live Halloween adScreenshot taken 10/9/14 of

This countdown feature can be applied for individual ads or added as a column in the business data document that is uploaded to Google. Note that by default, countdown customizers won’t begin showing until five days before the end time. However, this duration can be changed. Google’s help center explains the process in further detail.

Scheduling Business Data

Another great benefit of ad customizers is that they can be scheduled. For example, we may decide to stop showing the dynamic Halloween ads at 10 AM on 10/26. In the end date column we can add this time period.

Image of business data ad schedulingScreenshot taken 10/9/14 of

From what I can see, the ads utilizing the parameters are not paused, but rather the data itself. The ads remain live, but they don’t show because they are no longer pulling the data. I would recommend pausing these ads anyway either manually or via an automated rule.

Closing Thoughts

As I’ve experimented with ad customizers I’ve paid particular attention to where the ads show. Aside from seeing generally higher click-thru-rates (CTRs), it’s ideal to have ads show above the organic listings versus the side for a variety of reasons.

  • Most ad extensions are only eligible to show when ads are above the organic listings
  • Ads can make use of the extended headline if description line is a distinct sentence
  • Display URLs can be shown in the headline to further call out the brand

Aside from sample searches, I’ve also segmented my ad data by “Top vs. Other.” I’m finding it rare for my ads to show above the organic listings, meaning the dynamic components of my ads aren’t highlighted as much within the greater space of the ad. My dynamic ads see lower CTRs, but where it counts most, conversion rate, is up. If and when these ads start showing more regularly above the organic listings, I’m hoping to see an even higher conversion rate.

I’ve only touched the surface regarding ad customizers in this article. I strongly believe they will disrupt the conventional notion of how text ads are perceived. Searchers demand the most relevant, up to date information available. Ad customizers provide this experience in a fashion similar to Shopping ads.


Featured Image: Trey Ratcliff via Flickr

Category Paid Search

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Matt Umbro

Senior Account Manager, Community at Hanapin Marketing

Matt is a Senior Account Manager in charge of Community at Hanapin Marketing. He specializes in eCommerce PPC and client ... [Read full bio]

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