Best Practices

The Power of Ad Customizers

14. 09. 2018

Have you ever wanted an account where your search campaigns have CPCs that look like they belong to display? How about keywords that only have quality scores of seven or higher? Or maybe a CTR that looks like you’re serving ads that are too hard to resist? If you answered yes to any of those questions, then you’re in for a treat.

Ad customizers allow you to match a user’s search terms with customizable ad copy on any level. This means you can have hundreds of keywords in a single ad group with completely different ad copy tailored to each individual keyword.

Our team at 9thCO found that the more we can match a user’s search queries to the ad copy they see, the better. This is especially true considering that two-thirds of a quality scores’ indicating factors (landing page, ad relevance, and expected CTR) are entirely dependant on ad copy.

Below, we’ll share our key findings from utilizing customizers to help one of our clients, which can be applied to any industry.

The Problem

One of 9thCO’s client needed help in developing a variety of ad campaigns that would target all of Canada on the city and neighbourhood level. This involves thousands of neighbourhoods and cities, each with their own keywords, ad copy, and landing pages.

Initially, the 9thCO team considered splitting up campaigns by province, however, this method would sacrifice ad relevance. For example, if someone was searching for “landscaping in Yonge and Eglinton,” it was paramount that they saw ad copy that included Yonge and Eglinton.

The Solution

9thCO used ad customizers to develop unique ad copy for each neighbourhood and city in Canada. Because our client had a properly structured website, we were able to take advantage of the URLs and easily scale ad customizers to have thousands of keywords with unique ad copy. Customizers enabled us to:

  • Assign each keyword its own landing page
  • Forgo location targeting (since anyone searching for the keyword would be interested in the location regardless of where they are)
  • Create specific ad copy for each keyword

Creating a Customizer Template

The first step was to get the top cities and neighbourhoods by website traffic, as these areas would most likely receive the most search volume. We accomplished this by pulling page view data from Google analytics’ “All Pages” report (found under behaviour), then sorting it by page views. It was important to apply a filter to only show URLs related to what we were advertising for; in this example, it is landscaping.

The next step was to export this data and put it into Google Sheets. We wanted to take each element of the URL and include it in the ad customizer template format, which you can find here. The idea behind this was to determine what we were able to utilize as a customizer before setting up our template. Based on previous experience, we came up with the following columns of data:

  • City Text
  • Target Campaign
  • Target Ad Group
  • Target Keyword

Before tampering with the export, we created a duplicate copy for later use. Afterwards, we took the URLs in our google sheet, went to Data, and clicked “Split Text to Columns.” In our case, the separator was a backslash, but it could be a hyphen, period, or any other character. Using search and replace, we removed any extraneous hyphens (e.g., niagara-falls would be changed to niagara falls).

The picture above shows three main elements:

  • Column A: Province
  • Column B: Location
  • Column C: Service (Landscaping)

Since the service will always be landscaping, it was removed. It’s important to note that any part of a URL that isn’t constant is an opportunity to include additional customization in the ad customizers. For example, if the URL also contains the colour or brand of the product, it can be used to further customize the ads. Since location name would be sufficient in almost all cases, we also removed province for simplicity’s sake.

When the basis for our customizers was ready, we added keywords. We wanted some basic keywords that the product will be appended to. In our case, we used +landscape +service. It's important to have all the keywords ready in advance, as ad customizers will be applied on a keyword level.

To append the location to the keyword, we used the following formula in a new column:

="+landscape +service " & "+" & A1

*Where B1 is the cell where the location is. We then applied this formula to our client’s entire list of locations.

Once we had everything we needed from the data export, we included the target campaign and target ad group columns to the sheet, and labelled each column to match Google’s template.

The above screenshot shows our completed customizer template for the keyword +landscape +service. (This process can be repeated for any additional keywords that will be targeted using this method.) We won’t be using the template until after the keywords have been properly imported into Adwords Editor.

Importing Into Adwords Editor

The next step for us was to duplicate the finished sheet and select the entire “Target Keyword” column and copy, then right click that same column and choose “paste values only,” alternatively, press ctrl+shift+v. This eliminates all formulas while keeping the text, so the target keyword column will no longer be dependant on the city column.

Afterwards, we replaced the first column with the URLs from the raw export data.

In a new column, we used the following formula to add the domain name to each keyword:


This will append the domain name to the URL and give our final URLs. We removed the word “target” from the first row, so target campaign and ad group are simply campaign and ad group. This was to match the format required to import into adwords editor.

To have all our keywords in the proper campaign and ad group with their own landing pages, we took the following steps:

  • Selected all data in Google sheets, and then copied it using ctrl+c. (Note: the first column is not needed and will not be imported to Google Ads editor.)
  • Opened the “Make multiple changes” window in Google Ads editor using ctrl+shift+i.
  • Pasted the data from the sheet with ctrl+v and then pressed process.
  • Posted all changes made live.

Importing Customizer Template

Next, the customizer template needed to be imported into Google Ads. This involved going into Business Data under set up, in the “Data feeds” section of Google AdWords. In this example, we used “landscapeservice” for the name of the template to indicate it is specifically for the +landscape +service keywords.

Using the template we imported, we can then start customizing our ads, using ad customizers. Ads can call certain columns from the template based on the parameters given to them, meaning we can choose which columns to use for certain ad copy. In this case, we only had one column with text which was labeled City (text). The following formula can be used within the ad to call that column:

{=customizername.attribute:Default Text}

Applying our customizer, we would get the following formula:


Where customhome is the name we gave to our template earlier when uploading it, City is the column we want to call from the template, and Canadian is the default text that someone will see if the customizer data is too long (so in this case, if a city name is too long to fit within the ad character limits).

To create highly relevant ad copy, we combined the ad customizer formula with our regular ad copy.

Headline 1: {=landscapeservice.City:Canadian} Landscaping Services
Headline 2: {=landscapeservice.City:Canadian} Landscaping Services
Description: Since XXXX, Landscape Company Has Helped Canadians in {}
Display Path:{}

Below is a screenshot of our ad preview with a city being automatically being populated in the ad using customizers:


9thCO developed a search campaign for our client that achieved the following results:

  • 64% lower CPC than the industry benchmark
  • 54% higher click-through-rate than industry benchmarks
  • 9/10 Quality score or more for almost all keywords

Ad customizers can be difficult to grasp because they cover a wide variety of applications. However, with continued use of customizers, marketers can easily and effectively reach their ideal customers with highly relevant ad copy.

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