November 12, 2015

Customer Match - Google Vs Facebook

Published: 12 November 2015 

For a long time now, Facebook has allowed advertisers to use a tool called Custom Audiences, which allowed them to advertise directly to customers they already had contact with on their website or Facebook. An advertiser would upload email addresses or phone numbers, and Facebook would then match the users inside Facebook and deliver the ads to the profiles associated with them.

This is obviously an extremely useful tool, and it’s something that Google has long lacked in its own advertising functionality.

No more!

Google’s own version of Custom Audiences, called Customer Match, works in a similar manner to Facebook’s established tool. By uploading their customer and promotional email lists into Google Adwords, advertisers allow retailers to build ad campaigns that are specific to their audience. Rather than wasting time promoting ads to the wrong audience, the new system is designed to help retailers reach their highest value audience: the people they hope most to turn into sales.

Customer Match versus Custom Audiences

Google’s new Customer Match Feature and Facebook’s already Established Custom Audiences are very similar in concept and application. In fact, Customer Match is Google’s response to Custom Audiences, after the great success the latter has enjoyed since its inception. But are there any differences, and which is best?

The truth is they’re both highly effective tools, though slightly better than each other in different areas.

  • Customer Match has the edge over Facebook in terms of reach, but this had to be expected. Facebook has a huge user base, but even it’s 1.28 billion users can’t compare to the sheer scope of the Google machine which includes users from Gmail and YouTube as well, respectively the biggest email and video sharing sites on the net.
  • Google has four distinct advertising platforms: Search, Display, YouTube and email, whereas Facebook only has it’s social platform.
  • Facebook fights back by being the more efficient option when it comes to targeting ads. Once again, this comes down to Facebook’s social aspect as opposed to Google’s broader focus. Facebook, with the most personal information of all its users at its fingertips, is able to provide this information to advertisers in order to target ads far more effectively. Google has plenty of users information as well, but not on this personal level.

Which is better?

That’s a much of a muchness, as they’re both highly efficient, though Google may perhaps have the edge thanks to the sheer scope of its user base. A user has to be on Facebook to see Facebook ads, but to see Google ads all it takes is an internet connection and an open browser.


If we take a look at the the article Google has released to explain the concepts behind the Customer Match, we can see that one of the requirements of the email list upload is that it be no more than 17Mb in size. That might not sound like a lot, but it is!

We're nerd so let’s break it down. How many email addresses can you upload?

  1. Each email address is around 8 bytes in size.
  2. There are 17, 825, 792 bytes in 17Mb.
  3. That means a 17Mb file size can contain 2, 228,224 email addresses.

The new Customer Match tool could reach over 2.2 million users genuinely interested in the retailer's products. With just under 800 likes on the Matter Solutions Facebook page, it's going to take us a while to max on email address limit, but that doesn't mean you can't!

Those are some pretty staggering numbers, showing the potential this new targeting system has for improving advertising efficiency.

In the past, retargeting efforts utilised cookies. These were still useful, but they could easily be blocked by the user and were inefficient on mobile devices. Customer Match, on the the other hand, uses user sign-ins and email addresses which is a more reliable technique over a wider range of devices.

How Will Customer Match Help You?


Customer Match has the potential to be an extremely powerful tool. How can it help you increase your advertising efficiency? Let us count the ways.

Bring Back Previous Customers: Users who have purchased from you in the past but have since fallen off the map can be targeted with the new system. If they’ve forgotten about you, or have started using a different vendor, Customer Match can help remind them of the benefits of your service.

Target Past Visitors Who Didn't Purchase: Users who have not purchased from you in the past but were potentially interested in your product can be targeted by Customer Match. In the same way that previous customers who have moved away from your brand can be enticed back, users who were on the brink of purchasing but decided not to for whatever reason can be shown the positive attributes of your brand in greater depth. Customer Match can differentiate you from your competitors and provide more compelling reasons for why your brand should be chosen over others. You can also find what prices point your customers will buy at by moving your promotional prices.

Generate Awareness: Customers whose past spending habits indicate they may be interested in your product are ideally suited to be targeted by Customer Match.

Cross Sell: Customers who are currently utilising your service can be targeted to show them other aspects of your product they may be interested in. This is all about providing content that is relevant to the right person’s needs, rather than wasting it on those who have no interest.

Expand: If you know the profile of the users who most frequently purchase your product, Customer Match can help you target others who fit the same profile. Similar people have similar interests, so Customer Match is ideal for bringing these people together under the one brand.

Promote Loyalty: Customer Match can help keep your customers with you rather than with your competition. It does this by leveraging Customer Relationship Data (CRM) to foster loyalty and repeat purchases.


Google has a few requirements that must be followed in order to create a list.

At least 1000 targetable customers: This is a restriction designed to help protect the anonymity of users and advertisers. This may restrict very small advertisers from utilising the feature, but most advertisers should not find it an issue.

Hashed addresses: The emails in the file should be presented in the hash format, and be separated by a comma or line break.

List Membership Duration: The allowed list membership duration is no more than 180 days.

Compliance: All the emails within your email list must comply with the Policy for Customer Match. For a start, this means that all the emails you provide must have been collected with permission of their owners. For the full list of compliance restrictions, read the Policy for Customer Match.

The Bottom Line

Customer Match has enormous potential to help advertisers reach the users who matter. Facebook’s Custom Audiences tool has long provided this service for Facebook advertisers, but now they can utilise the same incredible functionality on most of the rest of the web as well, which is obviously a massive market that until now email advertisers have been missing out on.

Both Customer Match and Custom Audiences are powerful tools to remarket to your current database of visitors. That's why I would be using both of these opportunities to reach and promote to my target audience. This is the most cost effective marketing on the web today to reengage your target audience.

Ben Maden

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