Google AdWords remarketing, which is conducted through the Google Display network, is a powerful paid search strategy that allows you to target and reach people who have previously visited your website by showing them ads across the web.

In this blog we will share what standard remarketing is and its benefits, some segmentation strategies, some important tips, and more!

AdWords Remarketing Basics

In the graphic below, we share a basic explanation of remarketing:

Remarketing Basics

It is worth noting that there are four different types of ads available: static image, animated image, video, or text ads.

The Benefits of Using AdWords Remarketing

Consider that only 2% of website traffic converts on their first visit. Remarketing can help you win back the 98% that didn’t convert.

One benefit of using remarketing is that it typically has a higher click through and conversion rate in comparison to other paid search options. As we mentioned above, most users won’t convert on their first visit. Because those targeted by your remarketing ads have already visited your website and expressed an interest in your product/service, they are more likely to convert.

Another benefit of using remarketing is that it can increase brand awareness and recognition. Users are reminded of your brand/product/service as they browse the web. Of course, you don’t want to annoy users with your ads, so make sure to choose the right frequency (see section below on frequency capping).

Finally, as mentioned, because visitors have already shown interest in your products, remarketing campaigns can have not only higher conversion rates, but a better ROI overall.

Choosing Your Remarketing Audiences

Remarketing allows you to precisely segment and target customers. Therefore, one of the most important things to consider when setting up remarketing campaigns is how you are going to define your audiences.

Based on your business and your goals, there are a variety of segmentation strategies you can leverage to reach your target audience. We have worked with many clients who have set up remarketing campaigns that are too simple, decreasing conversion and ROI! For example, having one campaign for “All Visitors” to your website and showing them all the same generic ad. Investing the time in segmenting your audience and creating specific ads for each audience can improve your ROI and conversion rates significantly! Here are some ideas to get you thinking:

  • Past/current customers
  • Product/services pages visited
  • Abandoned carts
  • Custom combinations

Past/Current Customers: Depending on the product/service you are selling, customers may purchase more than once, especially for low involvement products. Create a remarketing list in Google Analytics that targets visitors who have completed a purchase goal on your website. Start remarketing to them based on the sales cycle of your products. For example, target customers who have made a purchase within the past 3 months, but not within the last 30 days.

Products/Services Pages They Visited: Target your ads to visitors who visited a certain product/service page on your website. Make ads relevant to the product/service page they visited. Also consider targeting visitors who stayed on that page for longer than average. (Note: you can even target based on people not visiting a certain page)

Abandoned Carts: For our ecommerce clients we always recommend using this audience for remarketing. Did a website visitor go the cart page but not complete the checkout form? Target visitors based on where they are in the sales funnel. For example, show an ad that says “Order today and get 15% of your order” to website visitors who reached that point in your sales funnel (ex: the cart page/quote/form).

Related: 60 Tips to Increase Ecommerce Sales Today

Custom combinations: You can take your targeting a step further by target your ads to people who visited one page on your website without visiting another. For example, you may want to target people who visited your landing page, but didn’t fill out the contact form to get in touch. Or, those who visited the checkout page on your website, but didn’t complete their order.

Important Considerations For Remarketing

When you are setting up your remarketing campaigns, there are a couple settings that you will want to consider:

  • Membership duration
  • Frequency capping
  • 100 visits
  • Don’t show ads on all websites
  • Delayed targeting
  • Update your privacy policy

Membership duration: The membership duration is the length of time a visitor will remain on your remarketing list. By default, AdWords uses membership duration of 30 days.

Frequency Capping: A frequency cap (also known as an impression cap) is a feature within AdWords that allows you to limit the amount of times your ad is shown to a user on a daily, weekly, or monthly basis. By default Google does not set one, but it is easy to setup!

But why would you want to set a frequency cap even though you are only paying for clicks? First of all, you don’t want your visitors feeling annoyed by your ads. Putting some controls on your ads can help eliminate such a feeling. Second of all, the likelihood of a visitor clicking on ad diminishes with each impression. In other words, interested visitors are more likely to click on an ad sooner rather than later.

To set up a frequency cap: Select your campaign > Go to campaign settings tab > Scroll to advanced settings and click the edit button next to frequency capping.

Frequency Capping Remarketing

A remarketing list must have 100 people before ads will run: In order for your remarketing ad to start running, your remarketing list must contain at least 100 people (100 visitors). This is an important consideration if you are targeting, for example, individual product or services pages that may not get a lot of traffic.

Don’t show ads on all websites: You don’t want your ads to be shown on content that you don’t approve of or that you wouldn’t want associated with your brand.

Within AdWords you can exclude certain site categories. Select your campaign > Go to the display network tab > Scroll to the bottom and click the +Options button under Site Category Options.

AdWords Site Category Options

Delayed targeting: This advanced tagging technique allows you to manipulate the duration setting of tags. In other words, you can create a remarketing list and target visitors for a specific period of time after the initial ad is viewed.

Update your privacy policy: If you are going to use remarketing, it is important to inform visitors that you are gathering information for remarketing on your website.

When you use remarketing you are required to have the following in your privacy policy:

  • An appropriate description of how you’re using remarketing or similar audiences to advertise online.
  • A message about how third-party vendors, including Google, show your ads on sites across the Internet.
  • A message about how third-party vendors, including Google, use cookies to serve ads based on someone’s past visits to your website.
  • Information about how your visitors can opt out of Google’s use of cookies by visiting Google’s Ads Settings. Alternatively, you can point your visitors to opt out of a third-party vendor’s use of cookies by visiting the Network Advertising Initiative opt-out page.

Other Remarketing Opportunities

Above we have discussed standard remarketing with Google. We thought we would mention just a couple of other options to help you take your remarketing a step further:

Dynamic remarketing: This takes remarketing to the next level and allows you to show ads to users that contain actual products or services they viewed on your website. Products and services are pulled directly from your product or service feed directly into your dynamic ads. This is a feature we often use for our ecommerce clients!

Remarketing lists for search ads: Launched last year, remarketing lists for search ads (RLSA), is a powerful combination of remarketing and search network advertising. Now, you can display a text ad in the search results page to someone who visited your website based on the search keywords you bid on. Because searches have already been to your website, the ads are extremely relevant to them, and, as a result, can deliver a higher click-through-rate.

How-To Setup a Standard Remarketing Campaign

Below, we will briefly cover how to setup a standard remarketing campaign from within your Google AdWords account:

1. From the +Campaign drop-down menu, select “Display Network only”

Remarketing Campaign Display Network Only

2. Name your campaign, and select the “Remarketing” campaign type

Remarketing Campaign Type

3. Similar to a standard AdWords campaign, select your bid strategy and budget (individual or from your shared library), scheduling, and URL options.

Remarketing Bid Strategy and Budget

4. Click the Set up remarketing button and get the code added to your website. Learn how to do that here.

Now it is time to add your audiences. Continue reading here for a guide to setting up your remarketing audiences.


Want to talk about how remarketing can help your business? We’d love to chat! Contact us today to learn how we can help you drive qualified traffic to your website and increase conversions. Or, check out some other AdWords news/resources below:

April 21: Google’s Mobile-Friendly Website Deadline

AdWords Upgraded URLs and Dynamic Structured Snippets

Call-Only Campaigns Announced By Google AdWords