Promote Real-Time Holiday Discounts with AdWords Ad Customizers

By Tinuiti Team

AdWords Ad Customizers for Holiday Promos

Most retailers will offer discounts, promotions and special offers throughout November and December – targeting shoppers on Black Friday and Cyber Monday.

Ad customizers – (including the “countdown” feature) – are a great way to effectively communicate the timeliness of your promos to encourage shoppers to make a purchase.

When retailers successfully implement customizers, they can provide shoppers with the “confidence that you have what they’re looking for, as well as an incentive to buy it from you.”

What are AdWords Ad Customizers?

Ad customizers adapt text ads to what a shopper is searching for, factoring in their device, their location and even the date, time of the day or day of the week.

Marketers can use ad customizers to insert a price, a countdown (aka the time left before a sale ends), number of products left in stock, and any other information that they feel could be a valuable selling point to shoppers.

For example, a countdown ad customizer could include a line of text that says “Hurry up, Cyber Monday sale ends in 2 hours!”

What Are the Benefits of AdWords Ad Customizers?

There are 4 major benefits to using ad customizers including:

1) Tailored Messaging: Ads are hyper-specialized to each search or webpage being viewed.

clock-650753_6402) Time-Sensitive Calls To Action: The COUNTDOWN function communicates a sense of urgency to shoppers and encourages them to take advantage of a promotion before time runs out.

3) Scalability: Ad customizers also allow a single text ad have hundreds of variations, and show the most relevant variation to each potential customer.

4) Reporting: The automatic updates that happen when an ad is triggered don’t reset the ad’s performance data. This leads to less volatility in keyword quality scores within an adgroup that often happens when new ads are introduced into a given adgroup.

Pro-Tip: Remember, you must have an ad in each ad group that doesn’t use ad customizers that can serve as backup to the other ads.

How Do AdWords Ad Customizers Work?

Ad customizers are parameters that go within braces {like this}.

According to Google, the parameter gets replaced by dynamic text when your ad’s triggered by a user’s search. Retailers can include ad customizers within any text ad on the Search or Display Network, anywhere except for the URL fields.

Customizers fill in your ad text using 2 formulas including the COUNTDOWN functionad customizer data, or both.

The COUNTDOWN Function

The COUNTDOWN function communicates a sense of urgency for the shopper. Countdowns can be built out through specific parameters that dynamically update ad copy according to either the retailer’s time zone, or the shopper’s time zone.

Below is an example of a live ad posted on October 18 (two days before the promo expires):


Customizers with a COUNTDOWN function include arguments, or directions, for that function within parentheses (like this) as seen in the example below:


For example: The customizer {=COUNTDOWN(Discounts.CountdownDate,’fr’)},  includes a COUNTDOWN function with 2 arguments.


Pro-Tip: Be aware of the time zone. Some retailers will offer a discount countdown based on their time zone or on the buyers time zone. Either way is accepted – but markers should take note of this when creating their countdown function to avoid any confusion.


Ad Customizer Data

This is a data set you upload to AdWords in a spreadsheet file. Customizers reference the name of this data set, as well as an attribute it includes. For example, the customizer {=Discounts.PercentOff} references a data set named “Discounts,” and one of its attributes, named “PercentOff.”

Basically, retailers upload a csv file through the business data section (it’s a section within your shared library).

roman-fitch“The second way (with ad customer data) looks the same as the COUNTDOWN function advertisement but it provides additional options to dynamically insert data including keywords and price,” Roman Fitch Retail Search Manager at CPC Strategy said.

“It’s similar to a feed – where you tell the ad which columns to reference. As marketers, we don’t use this second option as often as the COUNTDOWN feature because it requires a manual upload.”

What data can AdWords Ad Customizers include?

Customizers work similarly to the keyword insertion feature, which uses the {keyword:default text} parameter to put the keyword used for targeting into a ad text.

Pro-Tip: Ad customizers can insert any type of text for example:

Running a Sale:  Customizers can display certain discounts with certain products, for sales that change periodically, or that are limited to a specific time period.

Managing Large Inventory: Customizers can use brand-related keywords to display specific details about the product someone’s looking for.

Sell products in multiple cities and regions: Customizers can use someone’s physical location (or the location they’re interested in) to show location-specific pricing, product availability, or calls to action.

For more on AdWords Ad Customizers, email [email protected]


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