Digital consultants are excited by Google’s new email targeting but say they haven’t shifted resources away from other platforms to exploit it.
Google recently unveiled a tool called Customer Match that allows campaigns to target supporters with search, Gmail and YouTube preroll ads based on their email addresses. Consultants say it’s similar to Facebook’s Custom Audiences, where a campaign can upload a list of supporters’ email addresses or phone numbers who then get served ads on the site. Facebook also lets campaigns build audiences from website visitors or mobile app users.
Now, Google is basically playing catchup to Facebook where Custom Audiences, its targeting tool, has been a “runaway success,” according to Mark Jablonowski, chief technology officer at DSPolitical.
“I think that Google is realizing that email addresses are a very valuable thing and being able to link that to advertising is very powerful,” said Jablonowski. Customer Match “allows you to do the essentially the same thing as Custom Audiences across the Google owned properties.”
It works by a campaign uploading its email list and when supporters are logged into their Google accounts they’ll see its ads in Gmail, search results and YouTube.
Despite trailing Facebook in the growth of its display ad revenue, Jablonowski said privacy concerns have made Google “hesitant” to unveil ad tools that encroach on users’ privacy. “They’re being adamant about the fact that [Customer Match] has to be opted into,” he said.
Campaigns or advocacy groups with borrowed or purchased email lists won’t be able to use this service, Jablonowski said. Moreover, Google is confining the tool to its own properties and not opening it up to digital ad exchanges.
While the tool might help with fundraising, Eli Kaplan, a co-founder of Rising Tide Interactive and DSPolitical, said its limitations mean that campaigns are unlikely to divert money away from Facebook.
“Right now I don’t think anyone has a platform that’s as powerful as Facebook when it comes to using first-party data for fundraising and list building,” he said. “The thing about Google’s tool that is limiting from a fundraising perspective is that they’re only allowing it to be used on owned and operated properties.”
Kaplan added: “You don’t google the candidate very often, whereas people spend hours a day on Facebook.”
Digital consultants expect Google will soon open up Match to their exchange inventory, which would allow for more scalability.
But there is a practical application now, said Alix Carlin, director of advertising at Harris Media LLC. Lead generation.
“When we’re trying to find new people over search adds, you couldn’t previously exclude people who are on your lists,” she said. “Now you can take your existing email list and exclude it from your search ads. You can use this as a lead generation effort because you know the people who are seeing your ads haven’t signed up.”
Match clearly has potential, according to Carlin.
“They don’t have display yet,” she said, “but to have search and YouTube, I’ll take it.”