Remarketing 2012: Bigger, Better, Faster, More

Elaborating further on Lauren’s excellent blog post about the changes that have come to Google AdWords’ Remarketing feature, I would like to take the time to explain the possibilities that have arisen for marketers a bit more.

Along with Google AdWords and Analytics becoming more intertwined – for instance, if your, you can now use basic metrics such as bounce rate and pages per visit with your automated campaign rules – Google has recently made a number of significant changes to the way Remarketing campaigns are set up and managed. This has also dramatically increased the functionality of this advertising method.

As mentioned by Lauren in her post, you no longer need to create a code for every Remarketing list you would like to work with. If you use Google Analytics, you can now simply modify your tracking script on all pages of your site in order to be able to distribute the so-called “DoubleClick cookie”. This process is described here:

Google suggests you also update your privacy policy if you decide to use this feature.

With this done, you can now set up and specify all kinds of Remarketing lists directly from Google Analytics. You can find this feature under the “Admin” tab. It will no longer be necessary to create individual codes for every audience you would like to remarket to, making life much easier for your IT department, web developer or client.

A few clarifications up-front:

  • Old audience lists cannot be converted to this rule-based method.
  • You can use old lists and new lists together, and even combine them in custom combinations.
  • There is no need to replace the old lists, but it can make life easier in the long run.
  • After you have created a list, you still need to wait for it to distribute at least 100 cookies before ads will start showing for this list.
  • Once you have saved a list in Analytics, it will automatically be imported into AdWords.

There are now four general types of Remarketing lists you can create. You can remarket to all visitors of your site, specify just a page or section (e.g., or your shopping cart), remarket to visitors who have converted on one of your Analytics goals, or you can build a list with the help of Analytics visitor segments. Especially the option to use goals to make your Remarketing even more targeted is very powerful. If you choose to set up a list via visitor segments, you can either work with the “Dimension & Metric Filter” or the “Sequence Filter”. ‘It sounds complicated at first, but I you have a little bit of experience with Google Analytics it shouldn’t take you long to understand. A dimension list could be “all organic visitors that have spent more than $100”, for example. The “Sequence Filter” lets you even use storylines in your advertising. You can remarket to users who came to your site via an E-Mail newsletter first, and then on a later stage visited your site via a specific search campaign. The possibilities are nearly limitless!

It is also very useful that Analytics will now calculate the number of users your lists would have at this point in time on the fly. As mentioned above, note that in any case you will still need to accumulate users after the list has been set up. However, this can give you a great idea if the audience you have in mind will be large enough for you to make crafting an individual campaign for them worthwile.

Welcoming Google Tag Manager

This is really just an extension from a previous article published on these pages, Container Tags Can Save You Time and Resources, but now has an official home among Google’s products. Google has officially launched Tag Manager, a one-stop-shop for managing all your marketing tracking scripts/codes. This is a massive step forward for marketers that will dramatically simplify and speed up the process of inserting tracking code on a website, because traditionally you would be required to generate a unique tracking script and deploy for each property you wanted to track/measure. Now, using Google Tag Manager, you can generate one script, have it implemented once and then customise it as you go, all from one interface on the agency side. This works for all AdWords conversion scripts, Analytics and remarketing scripts. Watch the video for an introduction of how you would set up a container and add tracking scripts.

“Google Tag Manager took one big chunk of time out of the tagging process. What took 2 weeks now takes less than a day—sometimes just hours. We, the campaign managers, now make the call on which tags to use, and we can implement the tags ourselves.”

“Google Tag Manager just makes business sense. Why would we want to manually add hundreds of tags for our pages?” 


Container Tags Can Save Time and Resources

It is a well-known issue for digital advertising agencies and expert PPC and analytics agencies in particular – tracking and tagging the right events and conversions on a client’s site by implementing the right scripts to accurately measure the success of marketing initiatives, page traffic and site usage. The problem I am referring to that can arise is not the actual tracking software, but the correct setup on the client side.

If you provide paid search marketing, you will often require your client to implement the AdWords conversion code somewhere on their site to track how many leads or sales have been generated by your campaigns. So far so good – you will contact your client, who will forward the request to their IT, who will implement the script for you and ideally it will work as intented. If the script has not been correctly placed, you will have to repeat this procedure. The larger a client, the longer it can take to forward your request through all the necessary instances. Now you also want to remarket certain sections of the site by placing individual scripts on pages of these sections and showing users who have looked at washing mashines different ads than users who have demonstrated interest in high-end gaming PCs. You will have to explain your exact requirements to the client again, who will have to execute the implementation of the needed scripts for you. This costs both you and the client time, resources, and therefore money. If you are offering web analytics advice and implementation, the list goes on .. events want to be tracked, user behaviour measured, e-commerce scripts enabled and tracking scripts amended. Every time a change is needed a new communication process will have to be initiated.

Container tags can take care of this issue for you. A number of different vendors with varying service and pricing models have come up over the last year. These so-called tag management solutions provide you with a JavaScript tag similar to any other tag you would use for Google AdWords or Analytics. However, this tag can contain numerous other tags which you can specify and edit at any given time using a web interface. So you would simply ask your client to implement one single tag across their whole site, and you can take care of the rest. You can include AdWords, Analytics and any other scripts you need in this tag – it empowers you to immediately make changes when needed and to always stay on top of tracking traffic and conversions in the correct way. I think that all of these systems provide you with the possibility to only place certain tags on certain pages you define, and many allow you to pull data from the HTML of a page (or, better, data layers – see reference below for more on this topic) and amend your tracking accordingly (great for instance if you are using Google Analytics e-commerce tracking).

There are of course also downsides to using container tags for your tracking. If you would like to read up on these and find out more about tag management, I highly recommend Google’s Justin Cutroni’s concise and highly informative article on the state and possible implementations of tag management here:

Google Analytics V5 – What's Hot, What's Not

It’s already been a year and a half since Google last gave their free web analytics software Google Analytics a major overhaul. Now, version 5 has finally been made available to everyone. As Google Analytics is the web analytics solution most website owners and search marketers alike use – after all, it is hosted, completely free and can easily be integrated with AdWords – we would like to take you through the most important changes that come along with this new, shiny model and tell you how the new interface looks and feels like.

The layout of Analytics has actually gone through some pretty drastic changes. Quick links can now bring you straight from your account overview page to content or goal reports of each of your individual account profiles. You will now find a navigation bar including a “Home” button, a “My Site” tab containing your usual reports and the intelligence functionalities (which have been separated from each other), and the “Custom Reports” section on top of your reporting interface. The Custom Reports have been spiced up with a flat table view that I think will turn out to be really practical if you want to look at combined metrics like campaign/landing page or keyword/ad position. You can also add filters to your custom reports so that you won’t have to apply advanced segments to reports you would like to be broken down further anymore. The administration settings for each profile can now be accessed directly from the reporting interface by clicking the gear-wheel button in the top right corner.

With regards to your dashboard – you can now create multiple dashboards, which is a definite improvement, and to top that off even select different chart and display types for data you want to see. You now have much more flexibility here. However, all this data can still only be presented for one particular date range. It would be much better if you could customize time ranges for each individual report. You might not want to see your geo report broken down by hour of day, but your goal conversion rate. And how awesome would it be to combine various profiles in one dashboard?

Some reports that hadn’t been used a lot have been stripped out. “Traffic Sources” have become “Incoming Sources”. Motion charts are now available right in the reports. Maybe someone might actually start using them? Some reports include funky visualizations now – you can, for instance, generate term clouds of your data. “Goals” and “E-Commerce” are now combined under “Conversions”, which makes a lot of sense. And, hooray, you will now be able to set events as goals. Previously, only URLs and interaction metrics (time on site and pages viewed) were available to be specified as goals. “AdWords” gets a more prominent spot within the “Traffic Sources” reports.

Generally, it has become easier to segment data. You also don’t have to have “All Visits” preselected if you want to look at one particular traffic source only when using your advanced segments anymore. So the UI is all new and pretty, looking more corporate, and the colours are more settled. A few additions will make working with your Analytics data easier and help you find out what you need to know faster. All buttons and navigation options look smaller and cleaner – plenty of space for future additions and reports. One big minus though – exporting reports into PDF format is no longer possible.

All in all, a step forward, even though there are more cosmetic than actual content changes. You can dive down into the depths of your data much easier now, which is great. The UI and UX designers have certainly done their job, and a lot of customer feedback has been taken seriously. Many little changes and additions will make Google Analytics more fun again. On the other hand, when it comes to reporting and customizing your dashboard, Google Analytics, despite of certain improvements, is still a little bit.

There are a couple of Google webinars for ad agencies coming up that help you get to grips with the new Analytics version. Highly recommended!