The Ultimate Guide to AdWords Ad Customizers

AdWords ad customizers aren’t anything new; they’ve actually been around for a while. This year though, we were introduced with a new feature that allows us to create custom rules to define how we want our ads to be customized. This new feature, if implemented properly can have a huge impact on your performance and any professional marketer should get familiar with the ins and outs of this new opportunity.

Ad customizers in a gist

Basically Ad customizers allow you to dynamically adjust specific parts of your ad copy based on specific signals from your audience. For instance, you may want your ads to look differently to “mobile” users vs “desktop” users, or to someone who has already visited your site compared to a new visitor. Once you learn how to apply ad customizers effectively you’ll save a ton of time whether you’re a freelance or a digital marketing agency.

(DKI) Dynamic Keyword Insertion , is the common method used to replace keywords in ad copy based on the user search query. This is a fairly easy way to increase ad relevancy by creating very specific text ads without having to create and manage a ton of ads, specifically Single Keyword Ad Groups aka SKAGs.

Below is an example Google themselves provide from their help section demonstrating DKI for different possible search queries:

Countdown ads also provide ad customizing abilities and they are designed to create a sense of urgency on your ads by placing a countdown to a specific deadline on the actual ad copy. This is perfect for promos and sales of any kind from retail to SAAS offers. Using this feature you can determine your deadline, language and duration without having to create and kind of special feed.

IF Function customizers, are the newest feature available in ad customizers. Very similar to IF functions in Excel, the advertiser can enter rules that need to be met based on a specific audience list or device type. If the rules you defined are met, ad copy will be adjusted accordingly else the default ad copy will be displayed instead.

For instance, a mobile user could be seeing ad copy displaying a “Shop On Your Phone” headline to entice the user to click your ad while a desktop user will be see a different headline.
One thing worth mentioning is that using any of the above customizers is limited to only a single rule. If you’re interested in applying multiple rules, you’ll need to do this using a feed instead. Other customizers such as Geo and Product Type customizers are offer the highest technical and flexible options in AdWords. Through the use of a business data feed you’ll be able to swap multiple parts of your ad copy based on various custom rules you define.

Below is an example of a data feed

This feed could dynamically updates the Type, Price and Count each time the ad appears.


If you’re interested in a complete list of parameters you can customize along with instructions on feed creation you can check it out here.

Ad customizers use cases

First and foremost using ad customizers saves a ton of time required in duplicating ads and editing them manually one by one. Even if you’re quick at duplicating campaigns on AdWords editor you’ll definitely save time using this method. In addition, proper use of these will most likely improve your performance due to increasing relevancy, CTR and Quality Score as well. While it’s clear that these features are powerful, it’s important to use them appropriately to achieve the best results.

Use Case #1: Promotional Sale for E-commerce

You have an online store and you want to get ready for the holiday season around the corner and you’re offering a special black Friday promotion. Like many other online stores, you want to offer an extended black friday offer rather than limit to friday only.

First you’ll want to reach users before the sale begins, but as soon as the sale begins, you’ll be able to generate a sense of urgency that will hopefully get your users complete their purchase.

In order to apply this, you would create two sets of ad copy with the use of the countdown customizer.

The first ad is designed to let users know there will be a sale, here you’re getting their attention and hopefully adding them to your audience list as well.
The second ad will show once the sale begins and this time it will include a countown customizer with the purpose to get users to complete their purchase before it’s too late.

Use Case #2: Nationwide campaign focused on local geo targeting

This time you have a campaign that want to give the user a sense that you are local or at least provide the service they are seeking in their area. Instead of duplicating your campaigns and ads and modifying them for each city or state, you can do this more efficiently using customizers instead. Keep in mind that you’ll need to make sure that your account is structured correctly to take advantage of this. If you’re targeting multiple locations within the same campaign or if you have a separate campaign for each location will determine how you will utilize your customizers. You can upload your data feed and use either one of the following attributes: “Target Campaign” or “Target Location”. I personally prefer the target location attribute for this kind of scenario.

Create and upload ad customizer data using the “Target Location” attribute along with the replacement text for each location. This doesn’t have to be limited just to the location name, you can swap a complete line or description if you want as well.

Using this method would allow us to structure our headline in one of two ways:

  1. “{=LocationFeed.Headline}” – Swap with text from our Headline column for each target location
  2. “Locksmith Services in {=LocationFeed.Location}” – Swap with text from the Location column for each target location

Implementing ad customizers

Now that you know what ad customizer options are available and you have a good sense of which ones you want to use, you can use the table below to apply them. Details on feed preparation can be found on Google’s help page mentioned earlier. Applying ad customizers might be a little scary at first, but it’s worth leaving your comfort zone since they can have a huge impact on your performance. It could get a bit complex, especially if you’re trying to apply multiple customizers across many campaigns and ads at once. It’s probably a good idea to upload through the AdWords editor just because you’ll get notified if you have any errors. You can see all the different attributes you can apply here


Now that you’ve got a good idea of what ad customizers are capable of delivering, it’s time to give them a try. Start off with a few campaigns just to get a feel for it before you apply multiple customizers on a huge account. Practice makes perfect and you’ll master building feeds and using these like a pro. One last tip: having custom landing pages that match the user’s intent will increase your conversion rates and quality score as well!

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