Using the Google Ads "If" Function

Google Ad Grant

Who do you think is more likely to donate to your nonprofit: someone that has been to your site and hung out on your impact page, OR someone who is just visiting your website for the first time?
Probably the first one, right?

Google Ads “IF” Function lets you show tailored ad copy to  people within certain audiences. So, for example, you can show a strong call to action to your returning visitors and softer, informational copy to people who are just being introduced to your organization. Not only can this increase the CTR of your ads, but it can also help you encourage the right people to take action based on their history with your organization. Showing the right message to the right audience at the right time can help you further optimize your Google Ads strategy and drive even more impact with the grant.

Setting it up

The first thing you’ll have to do is install the Google Ads remarketing tag on your organization’s site. Note that the remarketing tag doesn’t work retroactively, so it will begin collecting data only once it’s installed. Once you have the tag installed, you can build custom audiences through the Google Ads platform. Here’s how:

  1. Within Google Ads, go to ‘Shared Library” and select ‘Audiences’

  2. Click “+ Remarketing List” and select the list type you’d like to build. In most instances ‘Website Visitors’ or ‘Customer emails’ will be the most applicable. In this case, we’ll go with ‘Website Visitors’.
  3. You can create audiences using a combination of users that visited a specific page, didn’t visit specific pages, any visitor of your site, etc. Let’s say we want to reach new members of we can create an audience of users that have visited the registration confirmation page on in the past 30 days by selecting ‘visitors of a page’…..
    …and inputting the URL of the related page and the desired time frame.

And that’s it! We’ll talk about other audience combinations later on, but for now we’re ready to start writing our ads.

Writing the Ad

Once you’ve set up your audiences it’s time to write your ad. The ‘IF” function looks a whole lot more complicated than it really is.  
This is basically how it goes down.

  • Start by typing a fancy bracket “{“ – Google will provide different ad copy functions in a drop-down menu. Choose the “IF” option.

  • AdWords will auto-populate the structure of the function, which will leave you with this: {=IF(,insert text):default text}
  • Input your desired target after {=IF(. In this case, we’re targeting people in a specific audience we’ve built.
    • {=IF(audience IN
  • Input your audience name in parenthesis and follow up with a comma
    • {=IF(audience IN (Site Visitors),
  • Follow your targeting with the copy you want to show this audience. End with a close parenthesis and a colon
    • {=IF(audience IN (Site Visitors),Keep Writing):
  • Add the default copy that will be shown to users who are not in your target audience and close your fancy bracket
    • {=IF(audience IN (Site Visitors),Keep Writing):Poetry Resources}

OR, copy and paste the mock headline below and fill in your own copy and audience titles:
{=IF(audience IN (Audience Name),Ad Copy for that Audience):Default Ad Copy}.

Again, what we’re telling Google is: IF someone is in the audience we’ve stated, show them ad copy A. Otherwise, show ad copy B.

To continue our example from before, if we’re Power Poetry wanting to show different ad copy to users based on whether they’re recent members or not, we’d write our headline like this:

We’re telling Google that, IF a user is a new member of our online platform, show them a headline that says “Keep Writing” (to remind them that they’ve been to the site and submitted poetry before, so they should do it again). If they are not a member (not in the ‘new members’ audience), show them a headline that says “Read and Write Poetry”.

When to use the ‘IF’ Function

Now that you know how to use the copy feature, it’s time to put it to action! Use the function to show custom copy to your key audiences, like

  • Donors: Build an audience targeting only users that have visited your donation confirmation page, indicating that they’ve donated to your organization in the past. Then, use the ‘IF’ function to remind them that they’ve given to you before and they they should give again by using language like “renew your gift!”
  • (Almost) Donors: What about people that visited your donation page but didn’t actually follow through with a gift? You can build an audience of people that have visited your donation page but have not visited your donation confirmation page.  Remind them of their interest in your organization and motivate them to take the final step.
  • Past volunteers: Re-engage your past volunteers by reminding them of the impact they had the last time they volunteered and encouraging them to take action again. You can also create an audience by uploading a list of volunteer emails and encouraging them to volunteer again, donate, or otherwise engage with your organization. Or, take the ‘non-donor’ route and encourage the non-converters to register as a volunteer once and for all.
  • Community Members: If you’re like Power Poetry and have an online community, use the ‘IF’ function to re-engage them by building an audience of people that have visited your registration confirmation page (like we did above) or by uploading an email list of existing members. Or, if you’re Donate Life America, target existing organ donors with language to help push them spread the word and encourage others to be donors.
  • Potential hires: Whole Whale might show some friendlier ad copy like “Whale with us!” to an audience of users that have visited our /jobs page, as opposed to “Learn more” or more general copy to someone who hasn’t.
  • Event Attendees: Upload an email list of past event attendees to promote upcoming events or to encourage them to volunteer, donate, or get involved with your organization in another way.

Using Google Ads’ “IF” function can help you craft hyper-relevant ad copy that appeals to any subset of your audience. By showing the right audiences the right message you can bring high-quality traffic to your site and help move individuals further down your funnel of engagement.

If you’re a Google Ads newbie and would like to dive deeper about how to set up an account from scratch, how to write awesome ads, where to find keywords, and how to measure success within your account, enroll in our three-hour Whole Whale University course. You’ll learn how to make the absolute best use of this grant, which will mean thousands more users taking meaningful action on your site this year. We’ve managed over $4 million in Google Grants and we want to help you get free money too!

Have experience using the ‘IF’ function in Google Ads? Tweet us your questions and stories @WholeWhale.