With so many choices out there, we all need extra reminders to help us make decisions. In the digital marketing world, we call those reminders “remarketing ads.” One avenue for remarketing is through the Google Display Network, which provides you a powerful and straightforward method to stay top of mind for valuable potential customers. In order to create an effective GDN remarketing campaign, there are three main things you will need to focus on: strong audience creation, effective ads, and proper settings.

Audience Creation

Phase 1 of setting up your GDN remarketing campaigns is taking the time to think through what audiences you want to target. You can create remarketing audiences in Google Analytics and import them into Google Ads, or create them directly in Google Ads Audience Manager to use them on the Google Display Network.

Since audiences are the foundation of your remarketing strategy, take the time to think through which ones make the most sense for your business. There are three core themes of segmentation to think about when deciding what audiences to create — list size, recency, and intent. As you read through the three below, consider the customer journey experience that you think will help potential customers on the path to conversion. How long does it take from discovery to purchase? What are the clear signals of research-oriented and purchase-ready behavior?

Audience Creation Themes:
  • Volume matters:
    • When starting out with Remarketing, think bigger with your audience to start. What common, high-level behavior or site history implies a person who’s just found out about your brand? What implies they might be nearing a choice? Start with fewer, larger audiences – you can always test more specific ones later.
    • Lists need to include over 1,000 users for you to use them in your campaigns. Google will estimate the size of the audience you set up, and may present a “Too Small to Target for the Display Network” message when you try to use it in a campaign if it’s too small.
  • Recency matters:
    • Think about your purchase and consideration cycle. Does it typically take only a few days to decide to purchase your product, or is the consideration cycle longer? Understanding your business’ unique cycle will help you decide how to segment out your remarketing audiences. One very high-level way to set up initial remarketing is to create audiences who have visited your site in the last 3, 7, 30, and 60 days.
  • Intent matters:
    • Since you can’t possibly know how interested every site visitor is, you have to think about the signals – determined by page visits or site activity level – that demonstrate intent. For example, someone who has spent five minutes on your site very likely has stronger intent than another visitor who only browsed for 30 seconds. How visitors show “intent” will vary from business to business and site to site, but here are a few general segments to look at to craft high-value audiences:
      • Time-on-site: Looking at Google Analytics, you can identify how long typical converters spend on your site. If they typically spend 5 minutes before they convert, make that one of your audiences.
      • Pageviews: Similar to above, determine the “number of pages visited” that signals a valuable visit. As an example, you can create multiple audiences: >8 pages, >5, >2, etc.
      • Specific page visits: Again, this may differ from site to site, but thinking through what constitutes a valuable page for your site will help you create these audiences. Examples include those that visited the checkout page but did not complete a purchase or those that visited the pricing page, case study pages, etc. More advanced remarketing setups will also segment audiences by product page or service offering page visits to present ads that directly align with their previous interest.

Outside of those core segmentation methods above, remember to consider the following when creating your audiences:

  • Consider list uploads (Customer Match). Creating audiences using site behavior rules is the most common and easiest method, but if you have large enough email address lists in a marketing database, you can upload them to create audiences via Customer Match. That linked post has some ideas, but for example you could use email lists of those who have signed up for email marketing to try to get them to take the next step.
  • Exclude converters. This is a step that’s very common to miss when setting up remarketing of any kind. Unless you are trying to nurture current prospects or customers, make sure you are excluding recent converters from these audiences. Serving ads to people who’ve already purchased the product you’re advertising is not only a waste of money, it’s also irritating to your customers.
Creating Effective Ads

Now that you have created these great audiences, you need to decide what ads to show them. Start with our quick primer on display ad creative tips. From there, we recommend customizing your image ads as much as possible for your audiences. For example, you might need to advertise educational assets or more brand-focused ads to audiences who have shown less intent, and keep more sales-driven ads for audiences showing higher intent.

In terms of ad formats, you will want to have image ads in at least 300×250, 728×90, and 160×600 sizes (pixel length x height) to get access to the majority of available ad placements on the GDN, and advertisers seeking a high proportion of mobile audience should add in 320×50 for mobile campaigns. We also recommend leveraging Responsive Display Ads (RDAs) when possible to be eligible to show in a greater number of ad spaces. And ecommerce advertisers will want to show individuals the products they previously browsed, which will require setting up a more technical Dynamic Remarketing campaign.

Settings For Success

In terms of remarketing-specific settings, there are a few items you need to watch out for.

  • Excluding converters. Covered previously, but it’s important enough to mention again here. If you don’t have a nurturing or repurchaser strategy, just exclude them!
  • Set a frequency cap. Remarketing ads can be powerful, but are best used in moderation. Showing ads too aggressively to an audience can turn people off and lead to lower engagement and performance, not to mention negative brand association. We typically recommend setting a cap of four to six ads per day per campaign to avoid audience fatigue.
  • Consider your mobile bid modifier. Even more than on search or social, mobile display campaigns tend to perform vastly different than desktop. Desktop ad inventory tends to be more competitive, expensive, but also better performing for most business models. If you launch a campaign with the same bid for both device types, you may very well end up getting a majority of mobile traffic that isn’t indicative of how your campaign could be performing. If you don’t already have reason to believe your ads will perform well on mobile, we recommend running separate campaigns for each device or at least starting with a very conservative mobile bid modifier, on the order of -80% to -90%.
  • Remove remarketing audiences from other display campaigns. This actually happens in GDN campaigns used for prospecting new customers. Make sure you have properly excluded any audiences you’re remarketing to from your prospecting efforts so as to not show the wrong ads to your remarketing audience or split the performance up between campaign tactics.

Follow these steps, and you’ll be set — happy remarketing! For additional help on remarketing strategy or the Google Display Network, contact our team.