Stephen Holland

by Stephen Holland | Search Marketing Strategy

In the world of remarketing, all visitors are not created equal. Visitors can be targeted and served ads according to dozens of criteria and segmentation. One very effective way to segment your audience is by time. The time that has passed since the last site visit. At Metric Theory, we call this time decay remarketing. AdWords allows the creation of different audiences for visitors who have visited the site within a certain time period.  This allows you to create different ad groups with different bids (and potentially ad copy) for those segments.

In most cases, the more recent the site visit, the higher the conversion rate. The more time that has passed, the lower the conversion rate. Intuitively, this makes sense: if someone visited your site in the last few days, they’re going to be much more likely to click on an ad and come back to buy than someone who’s seen ads for the last 4 weeks.

How has that intuition played out in practice?  These graphs illustrate how we have consistently seen click through rates and conversion rates drop in B2B and B2C remarketing campaigns as time passes or decays since the site visit.

Remarketing Click Through Rates by Time Decay 1


Remarketing Conversion Rates by Time Decay


We typically use audiences of 3, 7, 15, and 30 day segments, but you can also adapt the segments based on the time lag for conversions on your site overall. Additional segments can also be used for longer paths to conversion.

What is the point of segmenting these out if we’re going to show remarketing ads to all the segments regardless?  In a word: bids.  Knowing that the exact same group of people is more likely to click and convert in the first 3-7 days after a visit means we can shift our investment from being spread across 30 days (and bidding evenly that whole time) to bidding more on those initial segments.  Initially these audiences are bid descending from 3 days. In some cases this structure will change depending on the cost per conversion and conversion rate of each segment. More considered conversions may prove to have the highest rate at 7 – 15 days. Either way, the ability to bid by time since visit should improve results. It is better to allocate remarketing spend to the audience most likely to convert.