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Supercharge your Adwords Ads with Ad Customizers

For a while you’ve been able to add clever things like stock levels and live pricing messages to your ad text in Adwords without the need to manually update your ads each time. Going back a couple of years you were able to do it through the use of a feed and dynamic parameters. For several months now it’s also been possible to utilise an Adwords Script combined with ad parameters to do this job for you. While effective, there’s the issue that unless you’re comfortable with coding, the barrier to entry for these methods can be a little high (not to mention scary).

Enter Ad Customizer.

Ad Customizer is a relatively recent release by Google that allows you to drop in custom parameters and is much easier to set up than a script. There’s still a little bit of code involved, but the setup is very similar to Dynamic Keyword Insertion (DKI) which many of you will have been using for years. Have any of you used the {param} feature in Bing where you can specify 2 {params} per keyword that can be dropped into the ad? It’s like that, but on steroids.

What can you use it for? A whole hose of things – in short, for anything you’d like to drop into an ad (characters permitting). Some examples:

  • Product Name
  • Brand
  • Price
  • Discounts
  • Stock Levels
  • Countdown

You can also apply Ad Customizers across campaigns, ad groups and keywords, so it’s very flexible. You can also combine them and feature multiple parameters in a single ad. As long as you’ve uploaded data, similar to how you would with a product feed, or the Bing {params}, you’re ready to get cracking.

It has the added advantage of helping your text ads stand out against Shopping ads. They’re not quite as dynamic, but the use of customised parameters will certainly help make them more eyecatching. Plus, because your initial template has already been approved, you don’t have to go through editorial each time a new change is submitted! Big bonus.


Here’s a quick example from Google, featuring the keyword “prowhip 300” and the parameters that would be featured in its ad:

Image 1

The ad features the relevant parameter in the needed location. The first part of the customiser parameter in the {brackets}, (“Mixers”), refers to the name given to the data set you want to refer to – as you may have multiple ones uploaded at any given time – while the second, e.g. “Model”, or “Capacity”, points to the column that data is to be pulled from.

Image 2

Your live ad would look like this:


Image 3


So how do you set this up?


Create Your Data

1. Google provides an ad customizer data template here that you can edit as a starting point.

Image 6

2. To this you’d add any attributes that you’d like to feature in your ad, such as Brand, Price, Sale End date etc – within reason you can feature anything you’d like! If possible, it’s best to avoid spaces in your attribute names. Try replacing them with underscores as an alternative. Make sure that any values you populate are formulated as per Google’s spec:

Image 7

3. If you want to limit your customizations to specific parts of your account, you can populate columns F to H with campaign, ad group and keyword selections. You can remove these entirely if you like, or use different ones such as match types. You can find a full list here.

4. Once your spreadsheet is fully populated, remembering to remove the sample rows 2 and 3, you need to upload it to Adwords. Navigate to the Business Data section of your Shared Library:

Image 4

5. Once you’ve selected Data -> Ad customiser data, you can find your file and upload it.

Image 5


Create Your Ads

Key points to bear in mind before you create your customised ads:

1. You’ll need to include a standard, non-customised ad within each ad group, otherwise Adwords won’t show your customised ones.

2. As with standard DKI, you’ll need to remember how long your customised ads may end up once the parameters are dropped in – make sure you stick within Headline and Description character limits.

3. Use this format when dropping in your parameters: {=DataSetName.AttributeName} – make sure you’ve matched the attributed names exactly.

4. That’s it!



Here’s my top tip for you – if you want your ads to ONLY feature a countdown, then you don’t even need to bother with a spreadsheet. You just have to drop the countdown parameter into your ad. It looks like this:

{=COUNTDOWN(“yyyy/mm/dd hh:mm:ss” )}

If you’re running a sale that ends at 10pm on Christmas Eve, for example, you’d populate it as: {=COUNTDOWN(“2014/12/24 22:00:00” )}

Your ad would then read like this:

Image 8

But to a user searching on the 20th December, it would read as:

Image 9

Once your Countdown only has hours and minutes left, the ad will reflect this and would say, “Hurry, It Ends In 27 Minutes!”, if that was all the time remaining.

While Countdown ads stop running once the countdown has ended, to be safe I’d suggest using an automated rule to pause the ads once the countdown has ended – just to be safe.

By default, it’s important to note that a Countdown only begins counting down from 5 days before. It is possible to change this if you’d like a longer countdown – we just have to amend the parameter slightly.

Image 10

You’ll see that in the above we’ve skipped a parameter (this covers Display Language, which we’re not going to get into but if you’d like to find out more you can in the article I link to at the end), and then dropped in the digit ‘3’. In this case it’d only begin showing my countdown once we’re three days out, but you could amend that to 10, or 20 – whatever you think will work for your campaign.

Personally I like shorter timescales best and I think the final day countdown is particularly effective – once you start counting down the hours and minutes it gives a real feeling of urgency!



In conclusion, there’s loads you can do and I hope you’re excited to go away and make the most of any sale periods I’m sure you have coming up in the next few weeks and months. At the very least, I hope you try Countdowns!

If you’d like to get more complex, Adwords help has a very indepth article showing all of the parameter options here as well as additional help material available to enable you to make the most of Ad Customizers.

If you want to use price and/or stock levels which may fluctuate frequently, bear this in mind as you’ll need to reupload your data into Adwords to reflect this. You may be best off avoiding parameters that may change more than once every day or so, in the interests of creating the best experience for your customers and also to make life easier for yourself!

Have you used Ad Customizers yet? Share your experiences and any tips in the comments below!



Arianne Donoghue is a Digital Marketing Manager at Icelolly.com. Having started off her digital career client side in 2006, she's worked for both agencies and brands in-house, specialising in search. She is now back client side delivering paid media digital strategy for leading holiday comparison site Icelolly.com.