AdWords Ad Customizers Will Change Your Life

Google has a feature called ad customizers. They were rolled out in the Fall of 2014. Ad customizers is like Dynamic Keyword Insertion (DKI) on steroids. With ad customizers you can dynamically insert text into your ads with a lot of control.

Ad customizers can change your life

When they first came out, ad customizers were very limited and required you to have two ads. They didn’t come with a backup like DKI does, in case AdWords doesn’t know what to dynamically insert. In late 2013 AdWords added IF functions and default text which made ad customizers a lot more practical.

Before I get into the specific coding I want to cover what you can use them for. Ad customizers start out by adding a spreadsheet to the “Business Data” section under “Shared Library”.  Google gives you a sample spreadsheet you can download to get started with.  You need to decide what you want to trigger your dynamic insertion and what you want to have inserted.

Possible Uses

  1. Making mobile only ads: Since Google introduced expanded text ads we no longer have the mobile check box. Ad customizers allow you to bring this back. You can add a column in your spreadsheet for each section of your ad and then set targeting to mobile. You’ll also need to specify which campaign and ad group you want it in. This is just one of many ways to organize your spreadsheet.
  2. Dynamically inserting text based on locations: this is the one I use the most. In the past, if you wanted to target a non-geo term, there was no way to put geo text in an ad unless you had a campaign for each location. If I have a term like [accounting services] and I want to have my ads say “Houston Accounting Services” for people in Houston and “Dallas Accounting Services” for people in Dallas, I can do this in one ad group in one campaign. Bonus Tip: You can even get fancier with your landing page URL. You can use a geo script on your site and redirect the person to a landing page that is geo-specific. Google has no problem with redirects as long as it’s on the same domain and the landing page reflects the keyword the user typed into Google.
  3. Insert product related information from an ecommerce website: This works really well for ecommerce websites. You can upload a list of product names along with pricing, quantity available, attributes, color or anything you want. The way this works is you can make a list of keywords for AdWords to watch out for. If you have a product called Widget 9000 you insert that as a keyword and then add columns with information about that product. You can then write an ad that will have specific information about that product like price or quantity left or whatever you want. If your price changes, this can be very helpful so that you don’t have to constantly create new ads. Just keep the spreadsheet up to date. This can be done with scripts, with the api or manually.
  4. Scheduling: Have you ever wanted different ads at different days and different times? People already do this with a different ad for each day and time period they want to target and then have a script turn the ads off and on.  With ad customizers, you can create a spreadsheet with a row for each ad and a column for each part of the ad like heading 1 & 2 and description. Then you have a column for scheduling. You just enter what time you want this text to be used.  If there is a time period that is not in your spreadsheet AdWords will just show the default text in the ad.  The time is based on your time zone setting for your account.
  5. Externally manage ads: Before ad customizers, some people used spreadsheets with scripts and api programs to manage a large number of ads. With ad customizers, you can put all your ads in a spreadsheet to easily make changes. This also lets you make ad changes on the fly without having to create a new ad and wait for it to get approved before you pause the old one and you also won’t have to look at a bunch of ads to see historical stats. Google still has to approve anything you upload but you don’t have to worry about keeping track of when it got approved. You may still need to use the api or scripts to keep track of statistics, especially if you use this for A/B testing. Once you create and upload the spreadsheet, you can upload it to another Google Sheet and then add columns for statistics and use AdWords scripts or the api to insert the stats you want. This would be a very nice way to keep track of a lot of ads and tests.

Ad Customizer set-up

Once you decide what you want to use this for, you need to download the sample spreadsheet and start entering your data. When you have your spreadsheet set up, make sure to name it something short and useful because the name of your spreadsheet will be used in your ads. So if you name your spreadsheet locations.csv and you have one column for the state name, you would use the following syntax in your ad. {=Locations.State:In Your Area} This tells AdWords to look at the shared data feed called Locations and insert the state name in your ad unless AdWords doesn’t know where they are and shows the default text “In Your Area”.

The format is {=feed_name.column_name:default text}

AdWords will show the default text if you don’t meet the targeting criteria you specific in your spreadsheet. The targeting criteria is treated as an AND, so it has to meet all the criteria you specify to be inserted.

More Information:
Google AdWords Ad Customizers About Page
List of Attributes 
Download the ad customizer data template (.csv)

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