About the customer matching process

Starting on May 1, 2023, similar audiences (or segments) will be gradually phased out as a targeting feature. Learn more about this latest change to audience targeting

To provide a comprehensive and consolidated view of your Audiences and make audience management and optimization simpler, you’ll find the following improvements in Google Ads:

  • New audience reporting
    Detailed reporting about audience demographics, segments, and exclusions is now consolidated in one place, the “Audiences” tab within the left page navigation menu. You can also easily manage your Audiences from this report page. Learn more about Audience reporting
  • New terms
    We’re using new terms on your audience report and throughout Google Ads. For example, “audience types” (these include similar, custom, in-market, and affinity) are now referred to as audience segments and “remarketing” is now referred to as “your data”. Learn more about the updates to Audience terms and phrases

This article provides details about the data matching process for Customer Match and how Google Ads processes the files you upload.

How it works

You create a customer data file based on information shared by your customers.

To keep your data secure, you can hash your customer data yourself using the SHA256 algorithm, or Google Ads will hash the data for you using the same SHA256 algorithm, which is the industry standard for one-way hashing.

Only the private customer data in your file (Email, Phone, First Name, and Last Name) will be hashed, Country and Zip data won’t be hashed. If you upload a hashed data file, don’t hash Country and Zip data.

You’ll upload a customer data file in your Google Ads account or by using the Google Ads API (AdWords API). Google uses Transport Layer Security (TLS) for your upload, which is the industry standard to securely transfer files.


If a user record doesn't match, Google may still use it as part of policy compliance checks, but Google won't otherwise use it for Customer Match or any other Google product. The matching process can take up to 48 hours.

After the matching process and policy compliance checks are complete, your data file is marked for deletion. You can then start targeting your Customer Match segments in your Google Ads campaigns.

You can also start targeting similar segments on Search, YouTube, and Gmail, if your Customer Match segment meets the eligibility requirements.

Email address and phone matching

Google keeps track of the email addresses and phone numbers for Google accounts and the corresponding hashed strings for those email addresses or phone numbers.

After you've uploaded your customer list of email addresses and/or phone numbers, Google Ads will compare each hashed string on your customer list with the hashed string for email address or phone number of Google accounts. If there's a match, Google adds the corresponding Google account to your Customer Match segments (Customer list).

Mailing address matching

Google joins hashed name and mailing address data for Google accounts to construct a matching key. After you've uploaded your list with hashed customer names and addresses (don’t hash zip and country data), Google constructs a similar key based on your data and then compares each key on your customer list with the keys based on Google accounts. If there's a match, Google adds the corresponding Google account to your Customer Match segments (Customer list).

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