Using Geo Customizers in Google AdWords

Using Geo Customizers in Google AdWords

Ad Customizers in Google AdWords are nothing new, they have been around c. 2014 and can be used to dynamically insert relevant information into ads based on audience attributes, such as search keywords, location, search date, browsing device etc. Typically, these are used to insert product information dynamically. Here is a common example that AdWords gives. You can see that the brand, model and price of this mixer are all automatically inserted depending on the trigger keyword searched.

ad customizers on google adwords

While working on an AdWords campaign that targeted a large geographic area, I found myself wanting to insert the town, city and state names in ads to let our client’s audience know that they specifically service their area. This would usually require the creation of a large number of campaigns, ad groups and ads but I wanted to find a way to dynamically insert a location name, based on the location mentioned in a search term or the searcher’s physical location. I scoured the web looking for cases where this had been done before because surely businesses who operate nationwide would like to include every possible location in their ad copy. But alas, I could not find anything – I was even told it could not be done. Well, my friend, hold on to your hat, because it can be done and I’m going to show you how you can do it for yourself. After implementing this approach, within a couple of weeks, my client saw a 38% increase in conversions. This has continued to increase and in turn, reduced Cost Per Acquisition (CPA) to a record low.

You will need:

  • 1 List of Locations (this can be as granular as you like; townlands, villages, towns, cities, counties whatever works for your business)
  • 1 Excel Sheet
  • 1 AdWords Campaign (or ad group again depending on how granular you want to be)
  • A Dozen Strong Coffees
  • A Large Pinch of Patience (trust me with this one!)


  1. Firstly, You’ll need a list of locations; these can be villages, towns and cities or counties depending on how specific you want to be. I used Wikipedia to compile my list.
  2. Next, you’ll need to format these locations. In this example, I’m going to go with a pretty granular level. For example, say I was to target every village and town in the USA.
    • My ‘Location’ column contains the text that will be inserted into the ad
    • My ‘Target Location’ column is the clever bit that Is going to recognise which location my searcher is referring to or searching from.
    • ‘Campaign’ refers to the campaign these customizers should be applied to. Note: you’ll need a separate data feed for every campaign.geocustomizers in adwords
    • Ensure that your excel file format is .csv, as this is the format that AdWords needs.
  3. You’ll be adding new ads to your existing Campaign, but first, you will need to make sure that your locations will fit in your ad copy. Ideally, you will keep your ad copy as short as possible (within reason) to make sure your locations fit in easily. Let’s use the example of a florist that offers nationwide flower delivery. You would need to make sure that the headline ‘Flower Delivery’ allows for as many locations as possible. To do this copy ‘Flower Delivery’ (or what Headline your using) into Column D and in Column E use the length formula to find the character count for each column and sum them together, copy this for each of your locations. You can then use Conditional Formatting to highlight the cells with a character count over 30 and delete these lines. You can then remove columns D to G.adwords geographic customizers
  4. Once this has been completed, you can upload your data feed to AdWords. To do this, save your excel doc as a .csv file, make sure you keep the name as short as possible as this will be used in the customizers to pull up your feed.
  5. Go to the Business Data section of the Shared Library. Here you’ll need to click the ‘+Data’ and select the ‘Ad Customizer Data’. Name your feed (lowercase, no spaces are easiest) and upload your CSV file. Click ‘Upload and Preview’ to make sure it is going to upload without any errors and then click ‘Upload and Apply’ – it might take a few minutes for all of your locations to upload and be approved so maybe leave it for a couple of hours while you work on your ads.
  6. It is vital that you use a combination of non-customizer ads and customizer ads, while customizers are smart they won’t work 100% of the time, so I would advise using a 70-30 ratio initially. I now have only 1 or 2 ‘normal’ ads running in each ad group because I know that my customizer ads convert at a much higher rate but wait and see what the data tells you and then make changes accordingly. These customizer ads are very similar to your ‘normal’ ads the only difference is that in at least one place (H1, H2 or Description) you will need to type {=datafeedname:location}. Where I have datafeedname you will need to enter the actual name of your feed (remember your data feed name should be lowercase with no spaces). I found it easiest to create these ads within the AdWords interface, time-consuming I know but trust me on this. Once you’ve created an ad, click on it as if you’re going to edit it and in the ad preview, you should see your locations being inserted, there should be arrows for you to see three examples. Once you see this, BINGO, you’ve got it.

google adwords tips

  1. Kick back and enjoy a coffee! (or something stronger depending on how traumatic you found it!)

(via GIPHY)

Ad customizers can be high maintenance and sometimes they just won’t work so I would recommend taking your time and try, try, and try again until you’ve cracked it. This took me several attempts to get it! Just keep an eye on impressions and clicks in both your ads and your data feed to make sure that things are running ok, e.g. if your data feed has no impressions but your ads have 100 impressions – somethings not right!

Good luck and if you have any questions, please comment on this post or tweet us @dotdynamic.

Click on the link below to download our Datafeed, which includes every Village, Town and City in Ireland to get started on your own Customizer Ads.

Download The Data Feed

Eleanor is the Digital Marketing Coordinator at Dotdynamic and loves working on all things marketing. With a Bachelors Degree in Business and Digital Marketing and a background as a Paid Media Specialist, Eleanor is passionate about online advertising and helping businesses achieve the maximum return on their ad spend. Now, as the Marketing Coordinator, Eleanor works as the liaison between our clients and our team, keeping everyone on the same page and on track to meet and beat growth goals. Eleanor is also the co-host of Growth Marketing for Humans, a podcast produced by Dotdynamic. Outside of work, Eleanor is a doting "cat-mom" to Alfie, a black British Shorthair.