Written by James Scherer
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Google's Customer Match vs Facebook's Custom Audience: What You Need to Know

On Sunday, September 27th, Google announced “Customer Match,” an update to their Google Adwords platform. Here’s how they described the new product:

Customer Match is a new product designed to help you reach your highest-value customers on Google Search, YouTube, and Gmail -- when it matters most. Customer Match allows you to upload a list of email addresses, which can be matched to signed-in users on Google in a secure and privacy-safe way. From there, you can build campaigns and ads specifically designed to reach your audience. Google can help you reach customers that you already have a relationship with -- like those in your loyalty program or who have made a previous purchase -- in ways that are most relevant to their intent and context.”

For those of you at all familiar with online advertising, you’ll recognize the striking similarities that Customer Match has to Facebook’s Custom Audience tool.

Here’s how Facebook describes Custom Audiences:

”Custom Audiences let you reach customers you already know with ads on Facebook. You can upload a list of email addresses or phone numbers of at least 20 people and we'll deliver your ad to those people if they're on Facebook.”

So let’s break down the similarities between the two, where each tool has its strengths, and how you can use both to boost your online advertising ROI.

The Similarities Between Google Customer Match and Facebook Custom Audience:

They’re both allowing your business to target existing leads or customers specifically, allowing you to nurture leads into sales or sales into loyal customers off your website.

To be totally frank, Google’s newest advertising release is directly in answer to Facebook’s own tool, and I’m surprised it took them this long to do it (custom audience has been available to all advertisers since October of 2013).

Where Google has the Advantage:

Google’s Customer Match gives you access to a wider breadth of internet in which to reach your leads and previous clients, from Gmail to Search to YouTube.

Facebook can’t quite compete with that.

Here are the numbers: 72% percent of adults online visit Facebook at least once a month. (Source: 41 Up-to-Date Facebook Stats and Facts).

However, about 93% of adults use online search, and 67% of those use Google to do it. And that doesn’t even include YouTube usage or Gmail. (Source: netmarketshare.com and marketingprofs.com).

That’s pretty significant. Google has four advertising platforms: search, display, email and YouTube. That means you can reach your customers and leads wherever they are throughout the day.

Also, Google has “intent-based advertising,” where Facebook doesn’t. That is, unless you count Facebook’s website custom audiences, which I don’t (feel free to argue in the comment section below).

Here’s how Google describes the true strength of their new tool:

”Let's say you’re a travel brand. You can now reach people who have joined your rewards program as they plan their next trip. For example, when these rewards members search for “non-stop flights to new york” on Google.com, you can show relevant ads at the top of their search results on any device right when they’re looking to fly to New York. And when those members are watching their favorite videos on YouTube or catching up on Gmail, you can show ads that inspire them to plan their next trip.”

And that’s the key... Your brand can now show advertisements to previous clients based on what they’re actually looking for.

That’s where Facebook has always fallen down (and why their click-through-rates are so much lower than a Google search ad). True, with website custom audiences you can show a Facebook ad to people who have visited your site (and this gets close) but Google answers that with their far more powerful remarketing platform.

Where Facebook has the Advantage:

Google is also offering a “Similar Audiences” tool, which allows you to “reach new customers [...] who [...] have similar interests and characteristics to your rewards members.”

Yep, that’s exactly like Facebook’s lookalike audiences tool.

Facebook’s lookalike audience tool has been out for about two years now and, as Facebook describes it…

[Is] a way to reach new people who are likely to be interested in your business because they're similar to customers you care about. When you use Custom Audiences, you can choose to create a Lookalike Audience that targets people who are similar to one of your Custom Audience lists.

So the tools are, on the face of them, the same. However, Facebook’s a social media platform, with unparalleled access to the details of its users.

In other words, Facebook’s lookalike audiences are going to have far more in common with your custom audience than Google’s are.

True, Google has access to your browser cookies (if you’re on Chrome), search history and even the details of your Gmail conversations, but they can’t see your age, relationship status, family history, purchases you’ve made, cars you’ve owned or the fact that you are planning a trip to Brazil in December before you’ve even searched for flights (like Facebook can).

How is this different from Google remarketing or Facebook website custom audience?

Great question, because on the face of it, it’s tough to see the difference. Both Google Customer Match and remarketing strategies (like Facebook WCAs) allow you to reach your lead or customer after they’ve behaved in a certain way, and both allow you to do it off-site.

The difference lies in specificity. Currently remarketing and WCAs work based on a person’s visit to a specific URL within your website. So you know they have a vague interest in that page (pricing, for instance). But Customer Match has the added power of enabling you to target your leads based on exactly what they’re searching for on Google.

Imagine remarketing a lead based on their downloading of your landing page ebook and their search for “most-affordable landing page builder for small businesses.”

That’s pretty damn specific, and that’s what Google’s Customer Match allows you to do.

Ready to start creating your own landing pages? Sign up to Wishpond completely free!

How to Create a Customer Match Audience & Custom Audience:

google customer match vs facebook custom audience

For more, check out our awesome infographic on Facebook Ads vs Google Adwords:

Facebook Ads vs Google Adwords

Wrapping it Up

Use them both.

No, seriously. Why not? Upload the same email list to Facebook as you do to Google and take the design elements from your Facebook Ad and put them in a Google Display ad (same message too). Carpet the internet, from Facebook to Youtube and every Google search or email in between.

Both platforms offer fantastic analytics. Both offer strengths the other doesn’t.

And neither contractually obliges you to be faithful, so spread your advertising oats!

And please tell me when you start seeing Customer Match within your ad tool (should be in the next couple weeks in the US).

What are you thoughts about Google’s new ads tool? Are you excited by what it offers or feel it could’ve been more powerful? Let me know in the comment section below.

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Written by James Scherer

James Scherer is the content editor at Wishpond. When he's not writing or designing for Wishpond he's risking his life biking around the city. Reach out to him on Twitter @JDScherer.