We use cookies. You have options. Cookies help us keep the site running smoothly and inform some of our advertising, but if you’d like to make adjustments, you can visit our Cookie Notice page for more information.
We’d like to use cookies on your device. Cookies help us keep the site running smoothly and inform some of our advertising, but how we use them is entirely up to you. Accept our recommended settings or customise them to your wishes.

Using Customer Match Lists in AdWords Campaigns Targeting YouTube

YouTube is a great platform for advertisers because of its large audience base, which opens up the opportunity for brands to get their names out to a wide variety of viewers.

Advertisers can make YouTube spend as effective as possible by only targeting those audiences with a high probability of being intrigued by the brand’s message. While traditional remarketing lists can be used in YouTube advertising, a fairly new possibility is Google’s Customer Match targeting.

Customer Match allows advertisers to load email lists into AdWords and then target those users with ads through YouTube, Google search, and Gmail. In doing so, brands can incorporate additional insights about these users, whose email addresses must have been obtained firsthand by the brand, in optimizing messaging and bidding strategy.

Here we’ll walk through how to implement this targeting for YouTube videos and then discuss uses.

Setting Up Customer Match Targeting for YouTube

First, a YouTube campaign with one or both of In-Stream and In-Display ads needs to be set up.

In-Stream ads are the video ads that play before the actual video user wants to watch. Users have the option to skip the video after 5 seconds.

In-Display ads are the video suggestions that are on the right rail of the video page, and users can only see the thumbnail and the headline of the ad.

Since these two types of ads are different both in format and in performance, it’s best to launch them in separate ad groups.

Next, advertisers must upload and add the email lists to AdWords, which are then used as targets for your campaign.

To import email addresses:

1.Log into Adwords Account

2.Click on ‘Shared Library’ on left-hand menu.

3.Click on Audiences on left-hand menu.

4.Click Red Button “+ Remarketing List” and select “Customer emails”

5.Enter a descriptive name for the list (‘Active’,’Inactive’, etc.) and upload a .csv file containing the email addresses. Each file must contain 500K emails or less, but multiple files can be loaded. Fill out the other fields, then click ‘Upload and save list.’

Now that you have your email lists loaded into AdWords as Customer Match lists, you can call on those lists in your YouTube campaign.

To do so:

1.Click on the chosen YouTube campaign

2.Click on the ‘Video Targeting’ Tab

3.Click on the “Remarketing” subtab

4.Click “+ Remarketing List” and select the appropriate ad group

5.Select the Customer Match list to use from “Adwords remarketing lists”

6.(Optional) If your list size is over 5000, Google will automatically create a similar audience list. These are lists Google creates which consist of 'look-alike' users similar to those in a Customer Match list which advertisers can choose to target.

7.Add all relevant lists and hit “Save”

Customer Match targeting in search allows advertisers to choose between ‘target and bid,’ which targets an ad group to only the users included in the audience list, or ‘bid only,’ which targets all users who meet the other targeting options of the campaign but allows advertisers to adjust bids for those users included in the list.

In YouTube campaigns, advertisers only have the option of targeting with the ‘target and bid’ setting, and thus ads will only target the users included in the audiences added.

So what are some ways these audience lists can be used on YouTube?

Customer Match Uses on YouTube

One useful application of customer match can be to reactivate dormant customers. Advertisers, from retailers to non-profits, potentially have very big lists of customers whose last purchases/donations were a long time ago (“inactive customers”). Using YouTube as a way to get back in front of these customers can be a good first step to getting their attention back.

It can also be beneficial to target last year’s holiday shoppers using this strategy.

While YouTube is thought of by many advertisers as primarily a branding channel, using Customer Match lists in YouTube targeting can help to drive direct response as users who are already familiar with a brand are much more likely to click through to an advertiser’s website and possibly convert.

As mentioned earlier, advertisers can use insights about their customers that can help in creating precisely targeted Customer Match lists, which can help to make both direct response and branding campaigns more effective. However, it should be noted that each list must contain at least 1,000 targetable email addresses, limiting how much advertisers can segment users.


Google is certainly looking to expand and improve Customer Match in 2016. As such, advertisers would do well to explore how this targeting can help make campaigns more effective, including those targeting users on YouTube.