About the new customer acquisition goal

The new customer acquisition goal enables you to efficiently acquire new customers through your Google Ads campaigns. You have an option to either optimize the campaign to bid higher for new customers or optimize the campaign to exclusively bid for new customers only.

The new customer acquisition goal is currently available for Performance Max and Search campaigns.

Here are the primary marketing goals around customer acquisition:

  • Grow overall revenue but optimize for conversions from new customers because new customers bring long term revenue to the business.
  • Grow market share with a dedicated budget for customer acquisition either maximizing the number of new customer conversions with a Customer Acquisition Cost (CAC) or maximizing the revenue from new customers to also meet near term return of investment (ROI).

New customer acquisition offers 2 modes to support these goals:

  • Bid higher for new customers than for existing customers (New Customer Value mode): Add additional new customer acquisition value for a customer’s first purchase conversion value. This is the recommended mode because this lets you maximize revenue across all customers but also drive more new customers to your business within a single campaign.
  • Only bid for new customers (New Customer Only mode): Limit ads to only customers who are new to your business (as determined based on historical purchases and existing customer lists you have uploaded in Google Ads). We recommend this option only if you have dedicated acquisition focused budgets or if you are running a non-purchase conversion focused campaign, for example: lead-gen.

Benefits

  • Performance
    • Higher share of new customer conversions, thus growing your business and driving longer term revenue
    • Efficient budget utilization for new customer acquisition leading to lower acquisition costs
  • Easy to set up and use
  • Reporting on new vs. returning customer conversions
Note: The new customer acquisition goal won't optimize for sensitive content such as alcohol or medical products. Conversions for this content will be set as “unknown” instead of “new” or “returning” in your report. Other content in your account may still be eligible to participate in new customer goals. If you sell sensitive products, the only way to report on new customers is to provide the information in your conversion tag. Learn more about our personalized advertising policies

This article will guide you through the process of setting up the new customer acquisition goal in Performance Max. It also includes links to help topics that can help you learn more about how to optimize your new customer acquisition campaign in Performance Max. Learn more About Performance Max campaigns


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Instructions

Here are the steps to activate new customer acquisition in Google Ads for advertisers with online sales (feed and non-feed), lead generation objectives, and store goals. There are 4 main steps:

  1. Provide existing customer lists through Customer Match (highly recommended).
  2. Configure new customer acquisition goal within Conversions Summary in the account that owns the conversion action. This could be an individual Google ads client account or a manager account.
  3. Activate new customer acquisition in your campaign.
  4. View Reporting.

For advertisers with Online Sales objective (Google Merchant Center (GMC) feed and non-GMC feed)

1. Upload existing customer lists through Customer Match (optional, but highly recommended)

You can upload your customer lists so that Google can accurately designate new customers with up-to-date information that has been audited by you. Learn more about how to create and upload existing customer list

2. Configure your new customer acquisition goal

Note: Only conversion actions set up using the manual implementation method are eligible for new customer acquisition goals.
  • If you haven’t configured your new customer acquisition goal yet, use the following steps to set it up:
Note: If you use cross account conversion tracking, you'll need to do this within the account where this is set up.
  1. Go to Tools and Settings.
  2. Click Conversions.
  3. Click Set Up in the “Customer acquisition” panel within the "Conversion Summary" page.
  4. Define existing customers by choosing one or more audience lists.
Important: Verify all of your existing customer lists so that Google's new customer detection is as accurate as possible. Without this information, Google Ads won't be able to identify which customers are new or returning. If you use a manager account (MCC), ensure automatic sharing is on.
  1. Set the value assigned to customer acquisition. This is used only in the New customer value mode. This is added to a new customer’s first purchase conversion which will reflect in the reporting but also would help Smart Bidding to optimize towards new customers. The higher this value is, the more the campaign will be optimized towards new customers. This value will be used by default in all campaigns that optimize to new customer acquisition.
    • You might want to set the customer acquisition value to be equal to the expected future organic revenue of a new customer.
      Example: If customers spend an average of $120 USD per purchase, and 2 out of 3 customers buy annually for 2 years, the recommended new customer value would be $120 USD * ⅔ * 2= $160 USD.
    • You can use the recommended value that’s suggested when you select the new customer goal, if you’re unsure what your new customer acquisition value should be. This recommended value is based on your average order value across your prior campaigns.

A screen shot of the UI for defining existing customers at the Across-Account Conversion Tracking account level.

3. Enable new customer acquisition in your Google Ads campaign’s settings

  1. Navigate to the Google Ads campaign you want to enable new customer conversions for (currently available for Performance Max and Search campaigns).
  2. Click on the settings icon Tools and setting menu icon [Gear].
  3. Expand the “Customer acquisition” row.
  4. Select “Optimize campaign for acquiring new customers”
    • Choose whether you want to:
      • Bid higher for new customers than existing customers (which is the recommended mode)
        • This options lets you optimize for new customer acquisition, while helping you drive overall sales by targeting all customers
      • Only bid for new customers
        • This option limits your ads to only new customers, regardless of your bid strategy
  5. This will pull values from your customer acquisition goal at the account level. If you need to make adjustments to that, click on Change value and you will be taken to your account customer acquisition goal settings.

4. Monitor your campaign performance with respect to new customer acquisition

You can monitor the number of new customers you are driving with the new customer acquisition goal activated, and calculate key metrics such as customer acquisition cost (number of new customers/cost).

Where to view performance reporting

  1. In the “Campaigns table”, add the following columns to review the count of new customers and the total value adjustment of new customer acquisition, respectively:
  • New Customers: The number of new customers you have acquired from the campaign.
  • New Customer Lifetime value: The conversion value adjustment corresponding to acquisition conversions (first purchase conversions determined to be from new customers).
Example: If you have 5 new customer acquisition conversions and the value assigned to new customer acquisition is $25 USD, the new customer lifetime value column would show $125 USD.
  1. In the “Campaigns table”, you can segment by "Conversions" or "New vs. returning customers". This segments your conversions and conversion value into 3 customer categories:
    • New: People who purchased something online from your website or app for the first time. New customers are identified when they fulfill one or more of the following:
      • They haven't made a purchase within the last 540 days (this applies when using Google autodetection system).
      • They're not included in the existing customer list you specified in account level customer acquisition settings.
      • They've been identified as new customers using the new customer reporting tag.
    • Returning: People who purchased something online from your website or app previously. Returning customers are identified when they fulfill one or more of the following:
      • They've made a purchase within the last 540 days (this applies when using Google autodetection system).
      • They're included in the existing customer list you specified in account level conversion settings.
      • They've been identified as existing customers using the new customer reporting tag.
    • Unknown: Customers who we can’t report on due to policies around legally or culturally sensitive categories or conversions we cannot identify to be new or existing due to personalization settings
      Note: If you use new customer acquisition with the global site tag, Google Tag Manager, or Firebase, we use the values provided in the tag for “new”, “returning”, or “unknown" customers instead of Google autodetection.
Note: In some instances, your “New customers only” ads might be shown to existing customers as well due to privacy and technical reasons. You can learn more about these instances in Conversions from existing customers in “New Customer Only” (NCA) mode.

For advertisers with lead-generating objectives

Note: If you use cross-account conversion tracking, you must complete steps 1 and 2 in the manager account that manages your conversions. Otherwise, follow the steps in your individual Ads account. You can confirm if your account uses cross-account conversion tracking by navigating to Conversions and clicking Settings. If you’re using cross-account conversion tracking you’ll find the name of the manager account listed next to Conversion Account.

1. Upload existing customer lists through Customer Match (highly recommended)

You can upload your audience list so that Google can designate new customers with up-to-date information that has been audited by you. Follow the steps below to upload and select your audience list:

  1. Create and upload your customer list following instructions on creating a customer list.
  2. Select your uploaded customer list by following the customer match steps.

2. Define existing customers in your Google Ads account

  1. If you don’t have a new customer acquisition goal yet, set one up:
    1. Go to Tools and Settings.
    2. Click on Conversions.
    3. Scroll to the bottom of the page and expand the “Custom goals” section, click Set up on the Customer acquisition row.
  2. Define existing customers by choosing an audience list. It is strongly recommended that audience lists including Customer Match are used for our new customer detection to be as accurate as possible. If you use a manager account (MCC) account, ensure automatic sharing is on.
  3. Set the value assigned to customer acquisition.
Note: This is only relevant if you use "Purchase" conversion action and choose new customer acquisition in the New customer Value mode.

A screen shot of the UI for defining existing customers at the Conversion Tracking Parent account level.

3. Enable new customer acquisition in your Google Ads campaign’s settings

  1. Navigate to the Google Ads campaign you want to enable new customer conversions for.
  2. Go to the settings icon Tools and setting menu icon [Gear].
  3. Expand the “Customer acquisition” row.
  4. Select “Optimize campaign for acquiring new customers”.
  5. Select “Only bid for new customers”.
Note: This limits your ads to only new customers, regardless of your bid strategy.

4. View reporting for your tracked conversion goals

You can view your conversions and conversion values after a user interacts with your ad and takes the next steps to become a customer. In most instances, these metrics reflect new customers, however, you may experience an overlap with returning customers because of personalization limitations or factors like multiple conversions per click. Learn more about conversions from existing customers

Note: In some instances, your “New customers only” ads might be shown to existing customers as well due to privacy and technical reasons. You can learn more about these instances in Conversions from existing customers in “New Customer Only” mode.

For advertisers with store goals

If you choose to optimize your store goals campaign for acquiring new customers, we’ll identify new customers based one of the methods below:

  • Past online purchase conversions, if they exist
  • Existing customer lists that you share through Customer Match and label as such in the Conversions Summary Acquisition panel

Refer to the following table for more information on how new customer acquisition works with Performance Max campaigns for store goals.

 

New Customer Value mode

New Customer Only mode

Campaign with online sales and offline events

  • Only adjusts value for new purchase conversions online
  • Runs as a regular Performance Max campaign for store visits (or offline conversion)
  • “New customers” in reporting is the number of first purchase conversions from new customers
  • Only serves to new customers as identified based on past online purchase conversions, or existing customer lists shared through Customer Match and labeled as new customers in the Conversions Summary Acquisition panel
  • “New customers” in reporting is the number of first purchase conversions from new customers

Campaign with offline conversion events

  • Works as a regular (non-New Customer Acquisition) Performance Max campaign
  • No New Customer Acquisition value adjustment for offline events
  • Not recommended to use this mode with offline goals
  • New customers aren’t reported for offline store sales conversions
  • Only serves to new customers as identified based on past online purchase conversions, or existing customer lists shared through Customer Match and labeled as new customers in the Conversions Summary Acquisition panel
  • New customers aren’t reported for offline store sales conversions

Bidding

New Customer Value mode (applicable only for purchase conversions)

Smart Bidding accounts for the new customer value you set and maximizes total conversion value including the additional value you specify for new customers. Smart Bidding factors the understanding that new customers help drive more overall value into bidding decisions.

You can use the recommended value that’s set as default when you select the new customer acquisition goal, if you’re unsure what your new customer value should be.

Learn how to set up the new customer acquisition goal so that you can maximize new customer acquisition in your Performance Max campaign bidding.

New Customer Only mode

Existing customers are excluded from bidding, and Smart Bidding will optimize towards your Max Conversions/tCPA or Max Conversion Value/tROAS bidding strategies.

Customer acquisition value

Customer acquisition value is the additional value adjustment to be added to a new customer’s first purchase conversion. Our recommendation is to set Customer acquisition value such that Customer acquisition value plus new customer's typical first purchase value represents the revenue that a typical new customer would bring over their lifetime. When you choose a value based bid strategy, you can use this total value as the basis to set your ROAS targets. Customer acquisition value is only used by campaigns that use Value based bidding strategies.

Note: This is different from customer acquisition cost which would be the amount spent on acquiring new customers and can be calculated using cost for the campaign divided by number of new customers.

How we distinguish new customers from existing customers

There are 3 ways you can provide signals that help us identify new customers for your business. You can use one or any combination of the 3. Google detection will always be used by default.

Google detected

If your Google Ads conversion tracking is set to track “purchases”, Google can automatically create an audience list based on up to the last 540 days of campaign activity and tracked purchases. This is the easiest method for distinguishing new customers from existing customers, but would be less comprehensive since users can remove cookies and opt out. This is automatically used when you select the “new customer” acquisition goal.

Uploaded audience list

You can also upload your audience list so that Google can designate new customers with up-to-date information that has been audited by you. Follow the steps below to upload and select your audience list:
Note: You can also use “Browse” to select from the full set of audience lists that you’ve uploaded.
  1. Create and upload your customer list following instructions on using Customer Match.
  2. Select your uploaded customer list by following these steps:
    1. Sign into Google Ads where cross account conversion tracking has been set up.
    2. Click the tools icon Google Ads | tools [Icon].
    3. Under "Measurement", click Conversions. In the left "Conversions Summary" menu, click Edit in the "Customer acquisition" section.
    4. You’ll find the audience lists you’ve uploaded in the “Existing customers definition” box, or you can search for your audience list by typing the list name in the search field and selecting the box beside the correct list.
    1. Select up to 5 audience lists.
    2. Click Apply.
Note: If an existing customer list is too small (less than 1,000 members), the campaign's ability to enable NCA may be impacted successfully.

New customer conversion tracking using tags (add-on)

You can set up new customer conversion tracking using tagging. This method requires more setup from you, but allows greater control over which conversions are reported as new or returning. Learn more about new customer reporting
"Unknown" Google-detected classification
Google-detected classification will be set to “Unknown” if most of your uploaded audience lists aren't shared with the Google Ads account attached to your Performance Max campaign. Share your uploaded audience lists to view your customer segmentation.
Global site tag, Google Tag Manager or Firebase classifications
If you use new customer conversion tracking in the global site tag, Google Tag Manager, or Firebase, we use the values provided in the tag for “new”, “returning”, or “unknown" customers in place of Google autodetection.

Conversions from existing customers in “New Customer Only” mode

Even when you choose to bid for only new customers, there may be conversions from returning or existing customers that will be used towards your bidding goals. This may occur:

  • If Google Ads isn’t able to identify an existing customer. For example: an existing customer is using a new or unrecognized device or browser.
  • If there are multiple conversions, attributed to the same ad click, all conversions and conversion value will be considered towards your bidding goals (like max conversions or max conversion value, among others).

Troubleshooting for the new customer acquisition goal

New customer acquisition isn't running or has low serving

Occasionally, you may find that your Performance Max campaign using the new customer acquisition goal may have lower serving than you'd expect. This may be due to incorrect setup of the new customer acquisition goal in the campaign.
  1. Navigate to the Performance Max campaign’s settings.
  2. Expand the Customer acquisition section.
  3. Confirm that the “New customers only” setting has been enabled and the “Optimize campaign for acquiring new customers” box is checked.
  4. Ensure the Conversion page is set up correctly.
  5. Click the tools and settings icon Tools and setting menu icon [Gear].
  6. Under “Measurement”, click Conversions.
  7. “New customer acquisition” will appear at the top or bottom of the page, depending on the goals of the campaign.
    • NCA will be at the top of the page if purchase conversions are set up in the account.
    • NCA will be at the bottom of the page if purchase conversions aren't set up.
    • If NCA doesn’t appear in the Conversion page, then NCA hasn't been set up correctly.
  8. For non-retail advertisers, confirm if purchase conversions are within the last 30 days or have an existing customer user list added.
    • Advertisers must use either of these options to use NCA.
  9. If NCA has been set up correctly, confirm when NCA was added to the campaign.
    • Performance Max campaigns need 1–2 weeks to adjust to any significant changes made to a campaign. After NCA is enabled, the campaign may take time to adjust to this new targeting and optimization setting.
  10. If there are no issues with the NCA setup, confirm if the Performance Max campaign has been set up correctly and is following best practices.

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