The Google 'Customer Email List' decoded

How do I reduce the quantum of my marketing spends without reducing quality and the end results? How do I ensure that I make the most of every marketing dollar I spend?’
— Musings of the mind of a Digital Marketer

Trying to build a customised Ad campaign for your very own Customer list? Think again.

I am sure that these are just a few of the many other questions that run in the minds of all efficient Digital Marketers today and quite often, primarily to save those extra dollars spent in targeting a large, generic audience; we resort to targeting the ‘Custom Audience’, i.e. a list of all customers or probable customers that we have collected or purchased from external sources; on social media platforms like Google, Facebook, LinkedIn, Youtube and so on. But that’s where the real question lies, should we?


Being an efficient Digital marketer myself, I have tried using the Custom Audience feature on all the above-mentioned platforms and though the process on Facebook and LinkedIn has been quite seamless and effective, I would not be of the same opinion when it comes to using Google’s ‘Custom email list’. Through this article, I would just want to share my learnings from the same and allow you to judge for yourself whether using Google’s Custom email list would prove effective for your business.


First things first. I had a database of about 4600 customers that I wanted to market to - 3000 mail IDs were gmail IDs and the rest 1600 comprised yahoo IDs and company IDs hosted on I saved the list in .csv format and uploaded the same on my Google adwords account. (Shared Library > Audiences > +Remarketing List > Select Customer emails > Upload .csv file > Upload and Save list).


Learning 1 : The list takes 24 hours for it’s ‘Membership Status’ to change from ‘Uploading’ to ‘Open’. So don't panic just yet if you have uploaded en Email list and it's still not reflecting.

Learning 2 : The list of 4600 emails reflects only in 2100 emails as a result of Google’s feature named ‘Customer Match’. The feature is automatic on Google and not much can be done about it.


After uploading my list, on the basis of the extensive research I had done on “How to run campaigns for Customer email list" that stated that it works exactly like a Remarketing campaign, I created a ‘Display Network only - All features’ campaign and created responsive Display Ads, waiting to see the favourable results.


Learning 3 : The Customer email list can not be used to run Google Display Ads.


With all my research going wrong, I was determined to understand what the real issue was. Me and my team tried to contact Google a couple of times, only to get different answers to the same set of questions.


Learning 4 : The Customer email list can only be used to run Gmail Ads. It is ineffective to run any text or display Ads. I am still not sure if yahoo mail IDs can be targeted using this option.

Learning 5 : The Gmail Ads created to target this list work only if the number of emails after Google’s Customer Match reflect as ‘more than 1000’.


With advent of Ad blockers, garnering our target audience’s eyeballs has already become difficult. Whether Google’s Customer email list makes that task easier or more difficult for your business, that’s for you to decide!


This article was written by Megha Malpani, Digital Analytics Consultant, Redwood Algorithms.