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?” 


Recent Changes to Remarketing

Remarketing is a very useful AdWords tool for targeting users who have already been your site but did not complete the desired action (eg. A newsletter sign up or a product purchase). There are various methods for using Remarketing to work for your campaign objectives. Please see my previous post on the basics of Remarketing.

Earlier this month, Google made some changes to how marketers are able to use this feature. The first change allows for Remarketing lists to be created and managed within Google Analytics, allowing for deeper analysis of these ads. This can be found in the Admin section under “Remarketing Lists”.

The second change is the ability to create various Remarketing lists using one piece of code instead of many.
Before, if you wanted to separate ad messages according to the page category that the user was browsing before they left the site, a unique code for each of those categories would have to be generated and implemented within the corresponding webpage. For example, if you have a site selling shoes, you would have to have a unique code for running shoes, a unique code for boots etc., in order to be able to deliver Remarketing ads specific to those shoe types.

Now, only one Remarketing code needs to be generated and implemented across all pages of the site. Some accounts may already have this code automatically generated. If you have this, it will be found under the “Audiences” tab, within the shared library, named “Main List”. If your account does not have this pre-generated list, then click ‘New audience’. Select ‘Remarketing list’ and then ‘define a list of site visitors by placing a new tag on selected pages’. Select the ‘+New tag’ button, name your remarketing list as ‘Main List’.

When the code of this Main List has been implemented across the site, you will then be ready to create category-based lists. From the Audiences tab, select ‘New audience’ > ‘Remarketing List’. Then select ‘Define a list of site visitors based on the selection below’. You can then create a list defined by the contents of the URL. For example, if you want to create a list for all users who viewed running shoes on your site, you would select all URL’s containing the term “runningshoes”. This method is therefore dependant on the URL structure of your site.

If you have already been using Remarketing, you can continue to use the old method, but some changes will need to be made in order to be able to use this new feature. See an explanation from Google on these changes here.

This new way of Remarketing has the obvious benefit of not having to deal with too many separate pieces of code, which can get especially complex when emailing to clients with explanations on implementation. It is also a time saver in that you would no longer need to keep adding additional code when there are changes to landing pages and promoted products.

Image source.


Getting More With Remarketing

Remarketing has become a necessity for most PPC accounts. It is an AdWords feature that was introduced last year, which enables marketers to re-capture user who have been to their site. This means that a user’s first visit need not be their last, and marketers get another chance to entice them to convert.

Setting up a remarketing list can be done by selecting “Remarketing Lists” under the Audiences tab. Most online marketers will already have tried this targeting feature, but for those who are unaware of how it works, it adds the cookie ID of a user who visits the site is added to the remarketing list by means of a generated code snippet. This allows ads to be targeted to those users when they have left the site and continued to browse on the Google Display Network. The number of days that a cookie is stored on the list can be decided on by the creator of remarketing list. This opens the opportunity to relay different messages for different lengths of time that a user has been away from the site.

Getting More With Remarketing

Taking it a step further, it is possible to remarket only those users that have visited the site, but did not convert. This prevents an already-converted customer from being targeted with your ads and possibly annoying them, as they have already done what you wanted them to. This is done by creating a negative remarketing list of users who have been to the conversion page (this list will collect cookies from users who have converted by means of code being placed on the conversion confirmation page). This list must then be added as a negative list by expanding “Negative Audiences” under the Audiences tab, and adding the list. Now all users who have converted will be excluded from the remarketing campaign.

Remarketing can also be used for new customer acquisitions. If it is the goal of an account to attract more unique visitors, negative remarketing can be a useful tool. This is utilised by creating a remarketing list targeted to all who visit the website, so the code must be placed on all entry pages. This list can then be added as a negative audience to all display campaigns that have a unique visitor objective. This basically excludes everyone who has already visited the website, and display budget can be more ensured to attain uniques.

Remarketing is a dynamic targeting tool that can be altered in various ways in order to meet account goals and has become an essential feature to use for all online marketers.