Are Ad Customizers & Keyword Insertion Helping or Hurting Your PPC?

By Brad



Ad customizers, keyword insertion, and IF/Default ads allow you to customize your standard text ads based upon the searcher’s information.

  • Keyword insertion puts your matching keyword into the ad
  • Ad customizers allow you to customize the ads in many ways based off of specific criteria, such as location
  • If/Default ads allow you to create different messages for devices or audiences in the ad

While this additional customization sounds great, and it’s a bit more work in some cases, is it effective?

In this article, we’ll look at how to test these ad options and what we find in general.

How to test

When we think about ad testing, we have two options:

  • Single ad group testing: Find what ad is best for a single ad group
  • Multi-ad group testing: Find what ad messages are best for multiple ad groups

As we want to know if these customizers are going to do best across the account; we’ll use multi-ad group testing for this exercise.

The first step is to customize how you examine the data. If you are using AdWords and Excel; you can use labels to label your ads by test and crunch the data in Excel.

If you are using Adalysis, you can quickly define and ad test. In this ad test, we have two lines:

  • {KeyWord:*
    • This pattern will match to any ad that starts with {KeyWord: regardless of the rest of the text in the ad
  • !!{Keyword*
    • This pattern will match to any ad that does not contain {KeyWord:

That means that our results will show how keyword insertion works versus non-keyword insertion ads. You can easily customize this to be params for ad customizers, {IF=mobile for default ads; or any other pattern that you want to test.


Keyword Insertion Results

Next, you will want to see how the two ad types fared against each other.

In this test, there are 13,858 ads without keyword insertion and 10,0002 with keyword insertion. The ads without keyword insertion won in every single metric; in fact, if this account were to pause their keyword insertion ads, they would get 912 more conversions in the next month and make $84,983.94 more revenue.


In general, we find that keyword insertion leads to these results:

  • CTR:
    • Higher than non-keyword insertion ads if you do not have great organization
    • Lower than non-keyword insertion ads if you have great organization
  • All other metrics:
    • Keyword insertion usually preforms worse for conversion rates and CPI metrics than keyword insertion.

If you are looking to quickly create many relevant ads, keyword insertion is a useful tool; however, always test it against your well crafted ads, especially in your high volume and brand ad groups.

Ad Customizer Results

When thinking about ad customizers, you need to really think through their usage and the user.

For instance, if you are selling insurance. Your ad customizers can put the user’s location in the ads so you always appear that you are advertising locally. While this tactic might work very well for generic keywords, it might fail for your brand terms or for specific queries.

In this first test result, the usage of ad customizers (ads with param in them); had a higher CTR, CPI, ROAS, and RPI than the non-customizer ads:


These ads were for a specific product type; and the customizers addressed the product need very nicely.

However, when we look at the account over the last 3 months, we see a different picture of the ad customizer data. Account wide, the usage of params was worse than their standard ads for all ad testing metrics except for CTR:


This is why when you use multi-ad group testing; you should make sure to segment your data to specific types of campaigns, such as brand, non-brand, product/service groupings, etc and not just look at all your data versus all your data.

When customizers are done well, they generally increase all of your ad testing metrics and are equal or out-perform your static ads. When they are used across different product and service groupings without being appropriately customized for that specific product or offering; they can produce worse results. As customizers take some time to work with, you do not want to spend more time creating ads for worse results.

IF/Default Ads

The new If/Default ads allow you to customize a message based upon a user being in a specific criteria, such as an audience or on a device type. In these cases, you are rarely testing if  the customization works as opposed to how the customization works against static messages or other custom messages.

As this is a different type of test, and not just a straight static versus custom messages; we’ve written a separate article on How to Test IF / Default AdWords Ads.


Keyword insertion, ad customizers, and IF/Default ads allow you to change the ads based upon the user’s information, be it a location, search query, device, or other criteria.

In general, what we find is:

  • Keyword insertion increases CTR and lowers all other metrics
  • Ad customizers perform better than static ads when well organized
  • If/Default ads are useful if you are testing them against each other

Of course, global averages are just that – averages. Some accounts are outside the norm and will perform better using keyword insertion or worse using ad customizers. Always test your own data; and ad testing is easy with Adalysis.

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One Comment

  • Suresh

    The data is really awesome. We can also test ad customiser with the countdown timers, that can increase more CTR and the conversions.

    Thanks Brad for the data.

  • Leave a comment

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