How to Use Google Adwords Ad Customizers to Improve Your Conversion Rate

by Gary Victory

Last updated on August 27th, 2017

Imagine for a moment that you’re managing multiple Adwords campaigns for your company…

You’ve got an amazing sale going on for widgets and really want to push your red widgets at the new year…

You want to create a limited time “countdown” ad, but also let customers know how many red widgets are in stock before they disappear for good…

What’s more, you need to be able to adjust the price on the fly to determine the best price point that drives the most conversions and sales.

The good news is that you can do all these things dynamically using Google Adwords Ad Customizers.

google search placeitSource:

What are Ad Customizers?

As the name implies, ad customizers allow you to dynamically insert specific details from a feed. The benefits from doing this are two-fold: You vastly improve the relevance of your ads (and thus your quality score), and your visitors get exactly what they want with less barriers to purchase. It’s a win-win.

Ad customizers go well beyond things like color or style. If you only want to make minor changes to an ad or ad group, you may be better served by dynamic keyword insertion. But for deeper, more meaningful customization, ad customizers are a better option. With them, you can dynamically adjust things like:

• Color
• Size
• Inventory/stock details (Only X left!)
• Pricing
• Countdowns (days, hours, etc.)
• Seasonal sales, discounts, events

Google’s own examples of what can be replaced to more precisely target customer searches:

Connect with customers at scale

Optimize workflow

The great thing about ad customizers is that you’re in complete control of managing the process and what information gets pulled. This gives you unprecedented flexibility in focusing in on and targeting precisely what your audience is looking for—right down to the granular level.

So how do you use them?

Using Ad Customizers Successfully

Ad customizers are made up of parameters which are inside braces {like this}. Each parameter includes two parts: the data sheet reference and the column reference.

An example of an ad customizer parameter

The data sheet is a spreadsheet that you can download here. In it, you’ll see several columns, including price, text, date and number. These columns tell Google how to format the data you set.

Countdowns work a bit differently, since time zones get thrown into the mix—and the last thing you want to do is anger visitors who think they’re getting the deal on time but are too late. You can also use countdowns to set a one-time event, or multiple events.

Ad customizers also give you the option to specify a language, so you can target ads internationally if you wish.

For large accounts or multiple campaigns, you can save hours of time simply by copying and pasting the relevant data-pulls into your ads. The template uses sample data which you can replace with your own information. You’ll then need to fill in the appropriate attributes depending on what you want to promote.

For example, your spreadsheet might look like this:

google example

As you can see from the example, you can mix and match different ad customizer parameters to create a unique, time-sensitive or inventory-sensitive ad that stokes that all-important urgency fire that your visitors may have in trying to find the best product for the lowest price.

Now, what’s the point of going through all this trouble when you could’ve just spent that time creating the ads themselves? This is where ad customizers really pull their weight.

Each time you change and re-upload the spreadsheet, the ads change automatically. So if you need to swap out prices, countdown events, color or number available (to name a few), you can simply make that change on the spreadsheet once, re-upload it, and have your changes reflected across all of the ads in that particular group.

And your edited ad would look like this:

An example of ad customizers using spreadsheet data

The finished example that the customer will see (minus highlighting)

Uploading Your File to Adwords and Launching Your Ads

Save your newly created spreadsheet as .xls, .xlsx, .csv or .tsv. Don’t use any spaces in the filename, and name it something that makes it clear to you what it is. The filename is what you’ll be referring to when you insert the actual ad customizers into your ad, which is what will come next.

To find your ad customizer upload area, simply log in to your account, navigate to Shared Data and choose Business Data. Click the +DATA and choose Ad Customizer Data.

It should be noted that Google requires you to add a standard text ad to any group with ad customizers, otherwise they won’t run. The text ad is a sort of failsafe panic button that loads if for some reason your ad customizers don’t work.

It’s also important to be mindful of character limits, since any descriptions or customizers that fall outside these limits won’t work either (even if the information being pulled will ultimately fall within limits).

As with all Adwords management tools, you can pause campaigns and view the performance of your ad customizers just as you would any ads or groups. Even when a certain ad’s customization is triggered (such as a countdown timer), that ad’s performance won’t reset, so you’ll never lose valuable analytics data.

So How Can These New Features Improve Your Conversion Rate?

Just as Google Adwords revolutionized the pay-per-click market, so too are ad customizers changing the way customers interact with ads and shop online. Ad customizers essentially blur the lines between shopping and viewing ads, so all of the relevant, important details can be shared on an up-to-the-minute basis, allowing you to remain competitive with psychological triggers like countdowns, real-time inventory details and more.

(Read more about how to leverage urgency and scarcity.)

With ad customizers, text ads now have a more level playing field against shopping results. And, while there’s still work to be done, text ads are becoming increasingly more tempting to consumers to win over that click as Google delicately tries to avoid having text ads being lumped in with “banner blindness.”

Ad customizers can nab the customer at that crucial decision-making moment with the right kind of incentive. You’re going to want to split test those ads to determine which kind of incentive attracts the right kind of customer for the product or service you’re looking to promote.

Just keep in mind, when your customers click through, they need to land on a Web page that’s an exact match to the messaging in the ad. That builds trust. And it’s key to optimiznig your conversion rate.

Examples of Ad Customizers at Work

So how exactly can you put these kinds of dynamic customizations to work? Let’s say your company is hosting conferences across the east cost of the U.S. If you were to use the countdown option, someone in Chicago could see that they have two days left to attend the November 15th conference, while someone in Florida would see an “early bird” discount ad for the conference on December 1st.

Referring back to our original widgets example, if you wanted to only highlight red widgets in your ads, you could create a single ad group with multiple ad customizers promoting red widgets, including seasonality, number left in inventory, number of models you sell, discounts available and more. One ad group—many possibilities.

Perhaps the best thing about ad customizers beyond their flexibility is how much time they’ll save. Taking the time to create ad customizers and plan out promotional strategies that leverage them might sound like a lot of work in the beginning, but it has huge potential to pay off in terms of click-throughs and conversion rates.

Are There Any Downsides to Using Ad Customizers?

At the moment, the only major issue with using ad customizer is the need to consistently update the spreadsheet for every change you want to make. That means if you need to update prices regularly, you’ll want to upload the spreadsheet accordingly.

If customers click your ads only to find that the deal you’re promoting isn’t available or the item you’re looking for is suddenly out of stock, it will not only cause your conversion rate to plummet, but will also leave a poor impression of your brand overall. So if you come away with nothing else learned from using ad customizers, remember this: Stay on top of that spreadsheet!

Also, because ad customizers are still relatively new, the parameters are still fairly limited. But remember that this is just as much an experiment for Google as it is for PPC managers and business owners. Don’t be surprised if the popularity of ad customizers leads to more parameters being created in the future.

Right now, the thing most people seem to be excited about (and rightfully so) is the countdown option. But don’t be complacent about what parameters and options you choose. Break out of the box a bit and experiment with creative that encourage visitors to learn more at every step of the buying process.

Have You Used Ad Customizers? What are Your Thoughts?

How has your experience been with using ad customizers? What do you think about the use of this dynamic technology in your pay per click advertising? Share your thoughts and perspective with us below in the comments!

Read other Crazy Egg posts by Gary Victory.

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Gary Victory

Gary Victory is a Business Analyst at Elite Group Marketing, a company specialising in online marketing in London.

He delivers cutting edge solutions to an extensive portfolio of private, public & multinational companies both locally in the UK & internationally. His professional interests include, new business marketing and digital media. Connect with Gary on Linkedin, Twitter or Google+!


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  1. liam says:
    May 14, 2016 at 6:24 pm

    Ad Customizers have been around for ages- but they have never gained extension traction due to the historical complex implementation.

    I have started using a script for Ad customizers. I find it easier to use than other options by implementing the script that uses the Shopping feed to get up to date pricing or other attributes. It is still high maintenance when product attributes importance changes allot.

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