How to launch your first Google Ads remarketing campaign

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Remarketing is an essential part of any Google Ads strategy.

It’s no longer a question of whether you should run remarketing campaigns; this is how you should run remarketing campaigns.

With more devices in homes than ever, remarketing is imperative to win back and engage your audience for a second (or third or fourth) chance to grab their attention.

To launch an effective Google Ads remarketing campaign, it is essential that you master the configuration.

This guide will help you cover not only the basics of setting up a remarketing campaign, but also advanced tips and tricks for getting the most out of your marketing budget.

1. Make sure the correct marking is in place

For remarketing to drive impressions, it’s essential that the proper tracking takes place on a website.

Most websites will use either Google Analytics or Google Ads tracking, I recommend having both sources as an option.

Google Ads tag

If your Google Ads account is starting from scratch, a Google tag must be implemented.

To find this specific to your account, go to Tools and Settings > Configuration > Google Tag.

Screenshot of Google Ads, August 2022
Ensure proper marking is in placeScreenshot of Google Ads, August 2022

If you are used to the name “Global Site Tag”, it is now called the Google tag.

Google now offers an installation setup with one of these website builders:

  • Drupal.
  • Duda.
  • MonsterInsights.
  • Typo3.
  • Wix.

If you manually install the tag, it must be placed immediately after the tag

of every page of your website.

Finally, if you have Google Tag Manager, you can install the necessary code in your website container.

Google Analytics tag

Google Analytics tracking is required before you can create a remarketing list within the platform.

To find the tracking code, go to Admin > Property View > Tracking Info > Tracking Code.

Google Analytics tracking is required before you can create a remarketing list within the platform.Screenshot from Google Analytics, August 2022

Verifying tag implementation

The easiest way to check if tags have been correctly implemented is to download the “Tag Assistant for Conversions” beta extension in a Chrome browser.

Go to your website and run Tag Assistant. If implemented correctly, the results should look like this.

The green checkmark means no issues were identified with the beacon configuration.

How to launch your first Google Ads remarketing campaign

2. Create Intentional Remarketing Lists

Once you’ve made sure the tracking is in place, it’s time to create intentional remarketing lists.

Intent is extremely important when creating remarketing audiences.

If you’ve just targeted “All Visitors” on your website, you’re missing out on a lot of opportunities.

Google Analytics and Google Ads offer many options for segmenting your site visitors as precisely as you want.

Keep in mind that a list that is too narrow will have trouble serving.

The key is to strike a balance between audience size and intent.

Google Analytics Lists

I prefer to create remarketing ads in Google Analytics (or GA4 if you already use it).

Because there is on-site behavior data to overlay on lists, it gives more options to qualify this audience.

To create an audience in Google Analytics 4, go to Configure > Audience Definitions.

To note: This assumes that a user has already linked the appropriate Google Ads and Google Analytics accounts for data sharing.

Google Analytics ListsScreenshot from Google Analytics, August 2022

Now it’s time to get creative.

The key is to create multiple remarketing lists based on your website categorization.

Here are some starting ideas to consider when building a portfolio of remarketing lists:

  • Category page viewers.
  • Buyers/Prospects (to be excluded from campaigns).
  • All qualified traffic to the site (determined by time spent on the site, whatever amount is considered above average for your business).
  • Quality blog viewers (determined by time spent on site, whatever amount is considered above average for your business).
  • Cart viewers.

In this example, I want to create a remarketing list of anyone who has visited a specific landing page and watched at least 50% of the video on that page.

The two key pieces of information to enter would be “page” AND “video percentage” (not “OR”).

The two key pieces of information to capture would be Screenshot from Google Analytics, August 2022

Once done, don’t forget to choose the destinations for your audience.

Always make sure to choose the Google Ads account for the list to import.

In doing so, the list may be used for remarketing campaign purposes.

Google Announcement Lists

To create listings in Google Ads, go to Tools and Settings > Audience Manager > Segments.

Google Announcement ListsScreenshot of Google Ads, August 2022

You can create five types of remarketing lists:

  • Website visitors.
  • Application Users.
  • YouTube users.
  • List of customers.
  • Personalized combinations.

This article explains in more detail how to create effective YouTube remarketing lists.

Depending on the objective, create your necessary remarketing lists and choose a list duration. The maximum time a user can remain in a list is 540 days.

The advantage of Google Ads remarketing lists is that they offer the possibility to pre-populate the list with users from the last 30 days. Google Analytics does not offer retroactive audience population.

3. Determine the appropriate assets

The most popular type of remarketing campaign is within the Google Display Network (GDN). However, there are also remarketing search campaigns.

Before creating the appropriate assets, first ask yourself these questions:

  • What are we asking the user?
  • What should the message consist of?
  • Does the landing page experience match the advertising message?

There are some key things to consider when creating remarketing elements. Here are some of them:

  • Static Image Formats
  • Responsive image formats
  • Titles and descriptions (if using a responsive format)
  • Landing page experience

The full list of imported display ad specs for Google Ads can be found here.

It’s important to note that if you’re using the responsive ad format, images must be ratio-based and are not the same as static image requirements.

4. Create a remarketing campaign

Remarketing campaigns can be created in the Google Ads interface or in Google Ads Editor.

Start with the campaign name, budget, and settings. If you’re creating multiple remarketing campaigns, follow up by listing the audience’s name in the campaign.

Campaign metrics can make or break performance. When not properly managed or maintained, expect some performance volatility. These include:

  • “Observation against target” parameter.
  • Bid strategy setting.
  • Targeting extension parameter.
  • Location setting.
  • Frequency limit setting.

When adding audiences to a remarketing campaign, choose the “Targeting” setting instead of “Observation”.

By keeping it in “Watch” mode, audience targeting is not restricted at all.

By keeping it in Screenshot of Google Ads, August 2022

When selecting a bid strategy, be sure to select one based on your goals.

For example, if you use “Target CPA” and set the bid too low, Google will throttle impressions and the campaign may run.

Finally, be competitive with auctions because target audiences have already been introduced to your brand.

The next setting, “Optimized targeting”, is one that Google has conveniently hidden in the ad group settings.

Always keep this disabled in a remarketing campaign.

If you went to the trouble of building a targeted list, why on earth would Google want us to expand to similar users in the same campaign?

Always keep this disabled in a remarketing campaign.Screenshot of Google Ads, August 2022

The default setting is “People finding or showing interest in your targeted locations”.

Although this is Google’s recommended setting, I recommend changing it to “in or regularly in the targeted location”.

Replacing it with the middle selection below allows for closer targeting.

Replacing it with the middle selection below allows for closer targeting.Screenshot of Google Ads, August 2022

Finally, frequency cap settings are always important because seeing the same ad multiple times a day creates a bad user experience.

Be sure to set limits on the number of exposures at a moderate level per user.

5. Analyze, refine and optimize

You have officially launched your first remarketing campaign!

That’s all there is, isn’t it?

Bad.

It is important to keep an eye on campaign performance early on. Some of the key things to look out for in the early days include:

  • Make sure the audience size is large enough to view impressions.
  • Placements (where ads are shown).

After a few weeks of data (more or less, depending on audience size), there should be enough information to start making performance-based optimizations.

The goal is to constantly improve.

Remarketing campaigns are not a “set and forget” strategy.

Bring it all together

A remarketing strategy is not limited to targeting a group of users. It mixes technology, audiences, messaging, etc.

Without even one of these areas, a remarketing campaign may not live up to its potential.

Follow the tips above to ensure your next Google Ads remarketing campaign is set up for success (and don’t forget to monitor performance!)

More resources:


Featured Image: Chinnapong/Shutterstock

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