Google’s {IF} makes AdWords customised ads easy

Like money, Google never sleeps. Case in point: while yours truly (and this blog) were making the most of our summer vacation, Google quietly launched a powerful new customisation option for AdWords search campaigns.

We’re talking about {IF} functions. Unlike Ad Customizers, they don’t require a feed, making them considerably easier to set up.

IF functions allow different variations of ad text to be shown based on who’s searching and what device they are searching on. When an IF condition is met, any of the elements in an expanded text ad (headline 1, headline 2, the description line or the path in the display URL) can be varied. Everything, that is, barring the final URL. When none of the qualifying conditions are met, default values are shown.

When using the IF function to target by device type, “mobile” includes people using tablets as well as phones. The {IF} function allows for a simple yes/no option: if mobile, show variation B; if not mobile, show the default ad (variation A).

In contrast, when customising ads by audience, the {IF} statement allows use of multiple audience lists (but is still limited to two variants per ad element).

Google provides the following table to show the differences between device and audience {IF} options:

Why should you care?

To be honest, we’re still dreaming up ways to make use of the customisation options that {IF} functions provide.

The most obvious use cases are similar to the examples used by Google. Alternative calls to action are used for mobile users (such as “Call now…”). And, targeting by audience, including specific promotional offers for higher value customers, along with discount offers for visitors that did not convert.

But we think there’s more to {IF} functions than this. While they’re limited to display on Google Search only, they are a handy addition to the AdWords arsenal, yes, and a time-saver for campaign managers. But we suspect their real value lies with ads already targeting a combination of audience lists.

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About the Author Jeremy Templer

Jeremy is a Partner and Senior Consultant at SureFire. Jeremy has been working in search since 1996, when he joined the Australian search engine, LookSmart. After relocating to San Francisco, he was instrumental in the development of the company’s paid search ad platform. At analytics company Coremetrics (now owned by IBM) he established an in-house search agency managing campaigns for Coremetrics clients such as Macy’s, Bass Pro and Lands End. At Acxiom he managed members of the pioneering SEO firm Marketleap and worked with clients such as Capital One, American General Finance and Kaiser Health. Joining SureFire in 2009, he is the head of Paid Search Advertising and oversees the delivery of AdWords and other PPC campaigns. He also helps clients make sense of their website data.