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Customize ads with real-time updates

Ad customizers adapt your text ads to what someone is searching for, which device she's using, where he’s located, or even the date, time of day, or day of the week. They can insert a price, the time left before a sale ends, and any other text that you define. For example, a line of text that says "Hurry, sale ends in ____ days!" could be filled in with the right number of days—and that's just the beginning.


  • Tailored messaging: Ads are hyper-specialized to each search or webpage being viewed.
  • Time-sensitive calls to action: The COUNTDOWN function can say that time's running out to take advantage of a promotion.
  • Scalability: Customizers let a single text ad have hundreds of variations, and show the most relevant variation to each potential customer.
  • Reporting: The automatic updates that happen when an ad is triggered don't reset the ad's performance data.

How they work

Ad customizers are parameters that go within braces {like this}. The parameter gets replaced by dynamic text when your ad's triggered by a user's search. You can include ad customizers in the headlines or description fields of your text ad on the Search Network. These ads will only show on the Search Network, even if they are in a Search Network with Display Select campaign.

Customizers fill in your ad text using ad customizer data that you upload, the COUNTDOWN function, or both.

  • 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."
  • The COUNTDOWN function: Customizers with a COUNTDOWN function include arguments, or directions, for that function within parentheses (like this). The customizer {=COUNTDOWN(Discounts.CountdownDate,'fr')}, for example, includes a COUNTDOWN function with 2 arguments.
    • The first argument (Discounts.CountdownDate) tells the customizer what date and time to count down to, which is specified in a file named "Discounts."
    • The second argument ("fr") tells the customizer to display that time in a particular language (French).

Customizer data can include anything you like

Customizers work like the keyword insertion feature, which uses the {keyword:default text} parameter to put the keyword used for targeting into your ad text. Ad customizers can insert any type of text at all.

  • Are you 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.
  • Are you managing a large inventory? Customizers can use brand-related keywords to display specific details about the product someone's looking for.
  • Do you sell your 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.

When you use customizers well, they give people confidence that you have what they're looking for, as well as an incentive to buy it from you.


You want to target by keyword

Using target keywords lets your ad include more details about what potential customers are looking for. This method tends to work well for advertisers with a large inventory whose product details are a strong selling point.


Scott's kitchen supply store offers hundreds of different stand mixers. He wants his ads to show details for each model, along with the current sale price he's offering.

Ad customizers let him offer these details for all of his mixers, with only one ad. All he needs to do is upload ad customizer data with the details associated with each mixer. A line from this ad customizer spreadsheet might look like this:


Target keyword Model (text) Capacity (number) Type (text) Start_price (price) Sale_ends (date)
prowhip 300 ProWhip 300 5 tilt-head $199 2015/05/15 20:00:00

The "Target keyword" column shows what keyword should trigger the details in the other columns, each of which specify what type of details they include (text, number, and so on).

When Scott writes his ad, he uses customizers that reference each column in place of specific details. The first part of the customizer ("Mixers") is the name he gave to his data set, and the second part (for example, "Model") is the name of a column.


{=Mixers.Model} Stand Mixer
{=Mixers.Capacity} quart {=Mixers.Type} stand mixer.
{=Mixers.Start_price} - sale ends in {=COUNTDOWN(Mixers.Sale_ends)}.

Now, if someone searches for "buy prowhip 300" on May 10, 2015, and this ad appears, the customizers update the ad according to the "prowhip 300" keyword, like this:


ProWhip 300 Stand Mixer
5 quart tilt-head stand mixer.
$199 - sale ends in 5 days.

Scott's ad now gives people confidence that he has what they're looking for (a 5-quart tilt-head stand mixer), as well as an incentive (sale price) to buy a mixer from his store.

You want to use customizers across a campaign or ad group


Scott's account is organized such that each campaign is focused on one category of appliances (e.g., stand mixers, blenders, and bread machines), with one ad group per brand. He finds that when people look for a particular model, they often end up buying a different model within the same brand, so he wants to highlight his large selection for specific brands. To do this, he needs to customize his ads by ad group and use the "Target campaign" and "Target ad group" columns. Here's an example line from his ad customizer data:


Target campaign Target ad group Brand (text) Num_models (number) Start_price (price)
Stand Mixers ProWhip ProWhip 9 $150

He then creates an ad like this for each ad group:


{=Mixers.Brand} Stand Mixers
{=Mixers.Num_models} models to choose from.
Starts as low as {=Mixers.Start_price}.

Someone searching for "prowhip 300" might see his ad appear like this:

ProWhip Stand Mixers
9 models to choose from.
Starts as low as $150.
You want your ad updated for recurring events

If you're promoting recurring events, like quarterly sales, you can use customizers to update the details and date on your ad without having to reset its performance statistics.


Scott's kitchen store hosts a speaker series that highlights a different culinary expert each month. He wants to show an ad that counts down to when each talk is scheduled.

Since the speaker series applies to his entire store, he'll be customizing the ads in his entire account the same way. He doesn't need to include any targeting columns in his ad customizer file, which he names "Talks." Here are a few sample lines:


Speaker (text) Event (date)
Beverly Baker 2015/02/01 17:00:00
Karen Cook 2015/03/01 10:00:00
Shu Chef 2015/04/01 19:00:00
Nam Butcher 2015/05/01 13:00:00


The ad text he enters might look like this:

Scott's Kitchen Store
Premium Cookware and Appliances.
Meet {=Talks.Speaker} in {=COUNTDOWN(Talks.Event)}

When someone searches for "Mountain View appliance store", he'll see a different ad depending on when he's searching.

On January 30:

Scott's Kitchen Store
Premium Cookware and Appliances.
Meet Beverly Baker in 2 days


On February 15:

No ads are running. Countdown customizers (by default) start showing their ads 5 days before the end time.


On April 1, at 5 p.m.:

Scott's Kitchen Store
Premium Cookware and Appliances.
Meet Shu Chef in 2 hours

If you know which promotions you have coming up, using a countdown customizer this way can save a ton of time.

You want to count down to a one-time event

If you're promoting a one-time event, you can take advantage of a countdown customizer without needing to upload any ad customizer data.


Scott's Kitchen Store will be the first in the area to offer a much-anticipated new model of stand mixers, the ProWhip X. Scott's going to unveil the ProWhip X at his store on the morning of October 20th, and wants to set up ads that count down to the event.

To do this, he doesn't need to create a separate data file. He can put the date of the event directly in the ad text he writes:


ProWhip Stand Mixers
Large Selection of ProWhip Mixers.
ProWhip X premieres in {=COUNTDOWN("2014/10/20 09:00:00")}

If someone sees his ad on October 18 (two days before the event), it would look like this:

ProWhip Stand Mixers
Large Selection of ProWhip Mixers.
ProWhip X premieres in 2 days
You want to target by location

If you sell products in different cities, or if you have multiple store locations, you can use customizers to update the details on your ad based on someone’s physical location or the location they’re interested in.


Scott now runs a chain of kitchen supply stores throughout the United States. He wants his ads to highlight discounts offered in his stores that people are near.

Ad customizers let him offer location-specific information using only one ad. All he needs to do is upload ad customizer data with the details associated with each location. A line from this ad customizer spreadsheet might look like this:


Target location Brand (text) Sale (text)
Denver, Colorado ProWhip 20% off mixers in our Denver store.
United States ProWhip Best price guaranteed.

The ad text he enters might look like this:
{=Mixers.Brand} Stand Mixer
Find the right mixer for you!


Now, if someone searches for "prowhip denver,” they may see an ad like this:

ProWhip Stand Mixer
20% off mixers in our Denver store.
Find the right mixer for you!
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