Advanced strategies for Google remarketing

Advanced strategies for Google remarketing

I caught up for a coffee with New Zealand based search marketer, Mick Gibson last week. For years, Mick’s been helping companies large and small with their AdWords Campaigns. We’ve recently started working with Mick and have asked him to audit some of our larger AdWords Accounts to ensure we’re achieving the best performance possible for our clients. He’s somewhat of a guru.

One of the things Mick kindly shared with me was his experience and advanced tactics with Google AdWords relatively new product, Google Remarketing (which I blogged about when it first came out in April 2010).

Whatever you think about Remarketing, I’d venture to say that it’s here to stay.

Rather than me re-write Mick’s whitepaper (and claim all the credit) I thought it best to publish it in its entirety.


AdWords Remarketing is:

  • A quick and easy way to follow-up on the ‘unidentified’ people who pass through your website without making contact or purchasing.
  • A way to put forward reminder/follow-up offers to visitors to your site – without you even having to know who they are.
  • Being able to create different follow-up campaigns for different offerings you have  (and for specific time periods and locations).

In short, Google AdWords Remarketing allows you to follow-up visitors to your website – with smart targeted display advertising. So as to ‘nudge’ them to return, reconsider what you offer – and ultimately do business with you. 


  • A New Zealand online retailer adds remarketing codes to their website.
  • The remarketing  codes start to build up an ‘audience’ list.
  • A set of “follow-up” Text and Display/Banner Ads are created.
  • When the audience list reaches 500 – follow-up ads are activated.
  • These Ads start to ‘follow’ the people that have visited the retailers website (but HAVEN’T yet purchased).
  • The length of time ads follow previous visitors can, and is, specified, so after a certain period (such as 120 days) the ads stop “following visitors”.
  • Visitors who HAVE purchased, get added to a separate list and AREN’T followed.
  • The increased exposure of the retailer’s brand and offering – through the display ads showing on Google’s extensive network of partner sites, leads to:

– Some people clicking the ads, linking to the site and purchasing (CONV TYPE A – see green graph below).?
– Some people NOT clicking the ads, BUT ending up revisiting the site on their own means anyway (by either Googling the brand or typing in the web address direct) and then purchasing as well (CONV TYPE B – see blue graph below).

The results!


Within the last two months – the remarketing campaigns have provided (for well less than NZ$1,000):?
–    685 direct clicks – that lead to 74 Conversions to Sales/Purchases (CONV TYPE A).?
–    1954 “View Through Conversions” to Sales/Purchases (CONV TYPE B). ?* Note these “View Through Conversions cost nothing – as there were no clicks involved! So these +-2,000 sales were achieved… for pretty much free!

Remarketing – BASICS


  • You need 500 cookies to activate list.
  • Add re-marketing codes to your site sooner rather than later to start developing these lists.
  • MUST Add/ Update Privacy Policy with this info (below), ie. You must allow/ tell people how to opt-out of Remarketing.

Please also note:

* Third party vendors, including Google, use cookies to serve ads based on your prior visits to this website.
* You have the option to opt out of Google’s use of cookies by visiting the Google advertising opt-out page.
Alternatively you can opt out – opt out of cookies by visiting the Network Advertising Initiative opt out page.

Remarketing – TOP TIPS


  • Under Campaign settings > Bidding and budget > Set Delivery Method to “Accelerated”.
  • Under Campaign settings > Location and Languages > Set Locations + Languages as wide as possible.
  • Under Campaign settings > Make Ad Delivery = Optimise.
  • Keep Text and Image Ads in separate Adgroups.
  • Make sure you add as many different Image/Display Ad sizes as possible – to maximise placement opportunity. Sometimes creating different ads in different size formats works well – as it stops the same creative being shown in one or more places on the same page.
  • Make sure Image/ Display Ads use similar colours, images and fonts to website – to increase familiarity.
  • NO keywords in Adgroups.
  • Bid high initially (similar to new display campaigns).
  • Make sure to identify current AdWords conversion codes as ‘negative’ or exclusion audience lists. Eg. You may not want to remarket to people who already have made enquiries. Or – you may want to show them a different message.
  • “Mix and match” ad creative to avoid Ad burnout.


Remarketing – Advanced tactics and recommendations

  • Create – low call to action + highly branded (with a very prominent URL). These maximize brand awareness – and give you the best chance of “free” view-through conversions. They’re also less intrusive in a way, due to not being as ‘selly’.
  • If you have a network of sites – then add individual remarketing codes to each site. Note: you’ll have to chose a ‘master’ AdWords account to generate the codes in, and run the remarketing campaigns from. Then create a custom combination of all the separate audience lists – and remarket using a range of offers/ marketing messages across the network.
  • (This idea is seriously cool) Use a Facebook campaign to drive demographically focused visitors to a custom landing page (with a correlating re-marketing/audience code) Then do a follow-up re-marketing campaign to that specific audience list in AdWords – safe in the knowledge that you know that the people in the audience list are who you want them to be. It works a treat, and allows you to use Facebook’s demographic targeting – in conjunction with AdWord’s reach and volume. Very powerful.
  • Use your Facebook or Twitter pages as destinations for Remarketing campaigns. Allows you to promote a softer call to action – and grow a wider network of would-be customers.
  • Time schedule different Remarketing campaigns for different days. Eg. Different follow-up marketing messages on weekdays and weekends.
  • After remarketing campaigns has been running for a while – run Placement reports to identify the sites your ads have been showing on. Sometimes these unearth some pretty interesting placement targeting opportunities (as your site visitors lead you to the places they hang out on!) You may also want to exclude some placements – if you feel they aren’t suitable to appear on (or use the category exclusions as well).

    For more Online Sales expert advice, click here.

    Chris Thomas heads up Reseo, a search engine optimisation  company which specialises in creating and maintaining Google AdWords campaigns and Search Engine Optimisation campaigns for a range of corporate clients.


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