Dubbed Customer Match, the company is promoting the service as a tool to businesses to reach out to customers on Google Search, YouTube, and Gmail - "when it matters most". It only works if users are already signed into their Google account when they provide their email addresses to retailers or other companies that require users to enter that information. The service will let companies upload a list of email addresses they have on record, which can be matched in a "secure and privacy-safe way" to signed-in users on Google. Using this, the firms can target users with campaigns and ads specifically designed to reach them.
Google in a support document says advertisers will provide it with anonymised or hashed email addresses. It adds that the list of email addresses that the companies upload "will only be used to match to Google IDs and for policy compliance. It won't be shared with anyone and will be deleted 7 days after matching and the compliance check are complete."
The company adds the new service won't affect the user experience adversely, as users can control the ads they see including Customer Match ads. The company adds that users can opt out of personalised ads or by muting or blocking ads from individual advertisers through Google Ads settings.
Companies using Customer Match can also generate Similar Audiences to reach new customers on YouTube and Gmail who may be interested in similar products and services as the ones the companies have uploaded. Google gives an example of TrueView ads on YouTube through which businesses can target a user who travels and frequently checks for non-stop flights. Google's Customer Match and Similar Audiences will start rolling out to advertisers over the next few weeks.
"Let's say you're a travel brand. You can now reach people who have joined your rewards program as they plan their next trip. For example, when these rewards members search for "non-stop flights to new york" on Google.com, you can show relevant ads at the top of their search results on any device right when they're looking to fly to New York. And when those members are watching their favourite videos on YouTube or catching up on Gmail, you can show ads that inspire them to plan their next trip," explains Sridhar Ramaswamy, Senior Vice President, Ads and Commerce in a blog post.
The move by Google is being seen as an attempt to maintain its advertising revenue as the mobile segment begins to eat into its Web advertising. Mobile devices, with their limited visual real estate, have traditionally been difficult to tap for advertising purposes, and the company has been taking several steps to tap this market, including Buy buttons.