Google Allows Targeted Ads Based On First-Party Data

new googleGoogle said Monday it will let marketers use their first-party CRM data to target specific users based on hashed email addresses. The product is called Customer Match.

While Facebook and Twitter both enable CRM matching, that Google now allows it constitutes “a seminal shift for first-party, addressable targeting,” said Merkle’s EVP of digital strategy, Matt Naeger. Merkle has been pilot testing Customer Match.

Bhanu Narasimhan, Google’s product management director for AdWords, acknowledged the other offerings that match email addresses to ads. “But ours is unique in that it’s also based on [search] intent,” he said.

Google believes combining its expertise in personalized search with Customer Match gives marketers capabilities that can’t be matched on social media platforms. (A Google spokesperson said Customer Match campaigns won’t get preference in keyword-based auctions.)

But with these enhancements comes more stringent privacy restrictions, said Narasimhan.

“We require that email addresses are given directly to the advertiser by the customer,” said Narasimhan. Essentially, advertisers must pull addresses from their own newsletters or loyalty programs, as opposed to purchasing a data set. Merkle’s Naeger said Google has an algorithm that identifies whether email addresses came from a third-party provider.

Participating marketers’ privacy policies must also disclose how they share customer information.

Narasimhan said that Google will try to alert consumers about its CRM matching program. For example, all Customer Match ads will be accompanied by a pop-up, which lets users (and Google) optimize the ads served to them or remove themselves entirely from email-based targeting.

Addressing these privacy concerns is why Google is delayed getting into CRM matching. Naeger agreed, but added that Facebook’s earlier program in part normalized the practice, just as it’s currently normalizing autoplay video.

Naeger said it made sense for Google to wait and see how the strategy developed somewhere else, since at the time Facebook was “struggling to find the right ad model for its platform … and Google could afford to be patient.”

Although Google hasn’t released the number of people that use it for cross-device logins – a necessary step for this kind of targeting – sources have previously indicated that it’s somewhere between 600 million and 1.2 billion, similar to Facebook’s audience graph.

Google also announced Monday that it will now have app-install ads available across its suite of products (search, YouTube, Gmail and display). App-install ads combined with Customer Match ads represent the company’s commitment to “helping marketers succeed in mobile,” said Narasimhan.

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