How to Use the AdWords IF Function

In early December, Google announced that they would roll-out the new AdWords IF function in the coming months. The logic is what you’d expect. The result is dynamic ad copy that will read one way if a condition is met and another way if it is not met.

Don’t get IF confused with Dynamic ads though. PPC Marketers have had the ability to create dynamic text ads for a time now using the ad customizer feed-based feature. The IF function is condition-based and operates independently of a feed.

The Google AdWords blog says the “IF functions allow you to insert a specific message in your text ad when a condition is met, and a default text when it does not. This makes your ads tailored to each search and more relevant.” The concept is straightforward and gives PPC marketers more effective and personalized options for messaging consumers in the same campaign, but the current application needs a bit more explanation.

A Closer Look at IF

PPC Marketers may or may not have access to the IF function in their AdWords account at this point. To determine if your client accounts have access to IF yet, Google says “try editing one of your ads and adding a {. A drop-down should appear. If the option IF function is available, then the feature has been enabled for the account.”

Screenshot of AdWords If Function from Google

Is it already enabled?!
Go ahead, go check now…we’ll wait.

Screenshot of AdWords account If Function

If you do have IF enabled, you can now use custom messaging to target your ad copy based on certain conditions! Keep in mind however that not all variables are accessible to PPC-IF-enthusiasts. Currently the only campaign options available are device and audience.

Screenshot of Google IF functions table

IF Campaign: Devices

Launching campaigns with IF functions based on device allows marketers to write one ad for a desktop user and a different ad for a mobile user. Going back to the fundamentals of mobile-friendly, users who are getting information from a small-format screen have different needs and will react better to ads catering to the mobile format.

Google provides further context on exactly how PPC marketers can make use of the IF function based on device:

Screenshot of Google IF function for mobile example

You can see in the example above that the IF function was set up to offer mobile users “Free Shipping On Mobile Orders” while the same ad shown to desktop users simply gives the classic “Buy Now” CTA.

Being able to adjust ad messaging for a mobile device user is particularly helpful for any business that derives high value from phone calls or location information. For example, marketers can now easily target mobile users looking for business hours, reviews or even directions while they’re out and about.

IF Campaign: Audiences

The IF function also allows PPC marketers to cater messaging to different audience lists in their account.

To make use of the IF function for audiences, marketers first have to have audience groups or lists defined. Audience groups completely depend on the individual needs and characteristics of a business, but commonly these groups could be built off of how recently users visited your website (recency data) or even users who abandoned their shopping cart, like in the example from Google below:

Screenshot of Google IF Function Audience Example

Using the Audience variable in the IF function, PPC marketers can strategically offer greater discounts. Rather than go broke offering blanket discounts to everyone, or organizing feed-based discounts, the IF function allows you to easily target cart abandoners only for example. Even more, a business could present a first-time-buyer-discount only to people who aren’t on a customer list already or mention free shipping on orders over $X to a list of cart abandons that were in excess of that amount or very close. Of course these are only a few examples and we’re all anxious to see how others use the IF function to get greater campaign results in the coming months.

The Future of the AdWords IF Function

There is no doubt that anyone not using any kind of dynamic PPC AdWords campaigns will have better results simply by applying the IF function. More personalized and relevant messaging always helps to increase conversions.

While the application of the IF function is limited for now, documentation suggests that down the road support is coming for time, gender and age. As advertisers and marketers we’re always interested in more effective ways to talk to our customer.


Image Credits

Feature Image: Unsplash/Pablo Garcia Saldana

All screenshots by Robert Brady. Taken April 2017.

Image 1: Screenshot from the Google Developer Blog

Image 2: Screenshot from personal AdWords account

Image 3: Screenshot from Google Support

Image 4: Screenshot from Google Support

Image 5: Screenshot from Google Support

Robert Brady

Robert Brady

Robert Brady is the founder of Righteous Marketing, a digital marketing agency. He got started in pay-per-click marketing during a class project in college and hasn’t stopped learning since then. He has worked with a variety of different companies, ranging from a small grass-fed beef grower in Idaho to a large B2B data storage provider.

Robert resides in Idaho Falls, Idaho and can often be found skiing, mountain biking, or playing ultimate Frisbee. The best way to reach him is through Twitter: @robert_brady.

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