One big inconvenience for Google AdWords advertisers has always been that every time any part of an ad is changed, a new one is created and the old ad is deleted. For some advertisers, this might not be a big deal. But the nature of some businesses requires many different ads, as well as frequent changes to specific details. Both updating and keeping track of all these ads is time-consuming and complicated.
For this reason, AdWords developed functionality to eliminate this problem. It’s called ad customizers.
This functionality enables an advertiser to create one ad that has placeholder text for specific attributes that will be the same across products, campaigns, ad groups, keywords, etc., but they want the value of those attributes to be different depending on the specific keyword search the ad shows for. For example, if an advertiser has 3 models of widgets (all priced differently), they would likely want basically the same ad for each. The only differences they’d want would be the values of the attributes for each ad…
If you wanted to have these ads running in the past, you’d deal with 4 specific inefficiencies…
- Every time a value of one of the attributes would change, you’d have to create a new ad, and the old ads with all of their statistics would get deleted.
- You’d have to create 3 different ads, each with the correct model #, price and # of days left until the price changed. While it’s not much of problem for an advertiser with 3 products, think about an advertiser with thousands of them. Yeah, I know.
- When a new ad was created, it would have to undergo a delay for policy checks, thereby creating a delay in ad serving. This isn’t good when you’ve only got 5 days remaining until you’re sale is over.
- If you wanted to countdown the days to the end of your sale, you’d have to change the ad every day, thereby re-living the first three inefficiencies every single day! No thanks.
Ad customizers gets rid of all four of these.
You only create one ad for whichever campaigns, ad groups or keywords you want to apply to it. That one ad doesn’t get deleted when the attributes you want to be dynamic change. Instead, you change the values of the attributes in a spreadsheet that the “customizer” part of the ad pulls from. It reads the correct value from the spreadsheet to show in each ad according to the search it’s showing for. So if a searcher’s query is “model 100 widget,” the ad will say “model 100 widget” where you want the model # to go. It will also show the current price for the model 100 and exactly how many days, hours and minutes from the end of the sale they have to purchase. If the search is “model 200 widget,” then the values you assigned for the model 200 will show instead.
When might one want to use this type of functionality in their ads?
1. There’s a specific amount of time until something ends or begins
Maybe a sale ends or an event or season begins. For this, you would use the COUNTDOWN customizer. This comes in two formats:
- GLOBAL_COUNTDOWN. This attribute should be used when something changes at the same time globally. Maybe your sale ends or an event begins at a specific time no matter where a searcher lives in the world.
- COUNTDOWN. This attribute should be used when something ends at a time in the user’s time zone. Note: If your want to count down to a one-time event, you don’t have to upload any data. You can create it right in the AdWords interface when you create your new ad. Since this is a one-time event and no attributes in the ad will be changing, you don’t need a data source to reference.
This customizer won’t start serving until 5 days before the end time you set.
2. You have a recurring event
Maybe you run a monthly seminar with a different speaker or topic each month. Maybe you have a different product or special each month. For this, you’ll upload the spreadsheet with what’s changing (title of the seminar, main speaker, etc.) and when (beginning of each month, etc.) and then use the countdown customizer to signal when the event takes place or the product on special changes.
3. You have a lot of products that all have different detail attributes (size, starting price, etc.)
This is exactly what is shown in my widget example above. But it can go beyond model, price and number of days until a sale ends. It might be color, size, make, year, etc. It can be any attribute that changes across a range of products.
4. Your offers shift in availability and pricing often
If you’re an airline, then the pricing of tickets changes very frequently. You want to include where prices start, but you don’t want to have to create new ads every time prices change. Or maybe there are only a few seats left, or a few rooms left if you’re a hotel or bed and breakfast. With ad customizers, all you have to do is update and upload your spreadsheet, and all of your ads will change without creating new ones.
How to implement
- Upload via spreadsheet. This spreadsheet will include the attributes you want to change and the values you want to be inserted into your ads. They even supply you with a spreadsheet template with instructions included that you can download and save to make it easier. All you do is follow the instructions in the spreadsheet and you’re good to go. Here’s a full list of attributes that you can use in your spreadsheet. You have to make sure you pay close attention to values that are accepted and the formats they must be in for them to work. Below, I show how my widgets example would work out.
The psychology behind it
Some of the customizer functionality helps you better implement persuasive techniques into your ad copy. For example, subconsciously people want things that not everybody (or no one) can have. If products or information is scarce, they want them more than if they were readily available for everyone to have. By showing a limited number available or a limited time to purchase, you make your offer more scarce, which makes it seem more valuable.
On the flip side, people also want to fit in. When we’re looking to make a decision, we look to others for confidence in deciding a certain way. Maybe you’re advertising a product that has been downloaded a lot or has sold a lot of units. You could easily use something like “join over 10,000 others” or text like that. These types of things provide social validation to users to go ahead and perform the same actions, making them more likely to do so. (For more psychological principles of persuasion, see 10 Time-Tested Ways to Convert Website Visitors Into Customers.)
How ad customizers could change some PPC accounts’ organization
Since much of search advertising is about relevance, good PPC managers are continuously searching for ways to make their keyword-to-ad targeting more granular so their ads are more relevant. The end result of this activity is creating more campaigns and ad groups over time. If you’ve got thousands of products, this can get overbearing to keep track of it all.
Let’s go back to my widgets example. If I’m selling 3 different models of widgets (100, 200 and 300), then I’ll have 3 different ad groups (one for each model). This way, I can match a specific ad for each model to all the keywords that apply.
How might the ad customizer functionality change this? If the landing page is the same for all of the models, then I can have one ad group for all 3 models and still show the specific ad I used to show in separate ad groups. Unfortunately, there is no landing page customizer attribute yet. So if the 3 models all have different landing pages, then I’ll have to stick with my separate ad groups for now.
- Character limits still apply. Therefore, remember to make sure your attribute values that replace your customizers don’t cause your ads to exceed these limits.
- Want to see how your customizers perform compared to each other? Just go to the Business data section of the Shared Library to find out.
While I’ve given you some common examples in this post, the possibilities are really dependent upon your specific business. If you brainstorm with your team about all of the different ways you might be able to utilize this new feature, I’m sure you’ll find some winners.