In September Google announced its newest offering for AdWords: Customer Match. This new match type can be applied for Search, Display, and Video campaigns, and is a new targeting method that allows you to show ads to potential customers by email address. Similar to the remarketing campaign type, Customer Match is a way to advertise to people who have previously shown an interest in your company. If your company has a database of customer emails, you can use that list to show ads on the SERPs for Search, within Gmail for Display, and on YouTube for Video.

Breaking Down Customer Match

Your email list is first uploaded to AdWords, where it is “matched” by Google, a process where they align your email list to users who have signed into an email account on their browser. Once your audience has been processed, you use that audience like a remarketing campaign. Simple, broad match keywords are added, and your Customer Match audience qualifies to whom your ads will be shown.

Benefits of Customer Match

  • Allows you to use broader keywords because you have a very limited audience
  • Email addresses can be used for inclusions AND exclusions.
  • Bid more aggressively on your most valuable email lists

Requirements to Run a Match Campaign

  • A list of at least 1,000 valid email addresses in CSV format, file size limit of 15 MB: Google will be unable to match 100% of the emails you upload, so we suggest uploading a list of at least 1,500 emails to insure that you reach the minimum threshold after your invalid or un-matched emails are discarded. Google states you need at least 1,000 emails in the final list, but we have experienced success with email lists between 800-900 email addresses.
  • An “Unsubscribe” URL: Google requires that you submit an unsubscribe URL so searchers can opt out of your ad, and AdWords itself presents a way to opt out of certain kinds of advertising on their network. This URL does not have to be contained on your own website domain.
  • Verify by check box that your email list was “collected in a first party context, directly from your customers.”: You must agree that your list was created by customers that knowingly and willingly provided you with their email address.

How to Enable a Customer Match Campaign

1. In your AdWords account, on the left side at the bottom, click on “Shared Library” and then on “Audiences.”

2. Click the red “+ Remarketing List” button, then on “Customer Emails”


3. Select a name for your customer email list.

4. Upload your email list file. BEFORE UPLOADING, MAKE SURE THAT

  • All headers are removed, so the file contains email addresses only.
  • No spaces before or after an email address. Use the TRIM() function in Excel for this.
  • Saved as a .CSV file

5. Enter your Unsubscribe URL.

6. Select your membership duration (max 180 days).

7. Enter a description for your list, for example, how the emails were collected and the date. *optional

8. Save your list.


Your list can take several hours to process, depending on the size of the file, and your display should look like this:


With your Customer Match List now created, you can add it as an audience to a new campaign. To use your new audience, go to Adgroups in your new Customer Match campaign and click “+ Remarketing”


Then choose “Customer Email Lists” under Interests and Remarketing and add your new list!



  • Can I add or remove email addresses from the list? Yes, by navigating to your Audiences tab and choosing your Customer Match list you can add and remove email addresses through additional uploads. There is no minimum number of emails for the second upload.
  • What is the maximum number of email addresses in a list? File size is limited to 15 MB, or about 500k addresses
  • My list has been “processing” for hours. How long does it take? Files can take up to 12 hours to process.
  • I got an error when uploading, what’s wrong? Check your email formats. You cannot include capital letters, spacing, or end with a “.”
  • Make sure you uploaded a .csv file.
  • What happens to my email list once it is uploaded? Google holds the list for 7 days, then deletes the file after matching is completed
  • How do I know my email list is secure? All emails are uploaded via SSL, but you can choose to hash your list using the SHA256 method before uploading to Google for additional security. This is a one-way hashing method that cannot be unencrypted.


Customer Match is a powerful new targeting method that allows you to serve ads to potential clients whose email addresses you have already collected, without them ever having to have visited your site before. At WTM we are already seeing great results from this new campaign type. Data is limited since this match type is only 1 month old, but by using our email lists and broad keywords, our clients are seeing higher than average visitor engagement (time on site, page depth) and lower CPCs compared to other search campaigns in their accounts.