Guide to Google Dynamic Remarketing for retailers

Want to remind visitors to purchase products they’ve looked at on your site? You’ll need to set up Dynamic Remarketing.

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It’s a Sunday evening. You are doing a bit of browsing online during an ad break, and you visit a site, look at some shoes you don’t really need, and then get distracted by something, close the browser and forget about the shoes.

Fast forward three days. You are reading the exciting stories on your local news site, and amongst the content sits an ad. An ad that shows you images of the exact pairs of shoes you were looking at.

What witchcraft is this, I hear you ask? These are known as ‘Dynamic Remarketing Ads’, and they are pretty clever, if not a little bit stalker-ish. What is happening here is that you are being shown these product ads because you are part of a remarketing audience.

The ads are Google Display Network (GDN) ads, but as they are remarketing ads, they will only be shown to visitors who have previously been to your site. A reminder that they viewed the products may provide enough incentive to go back to the site and buy, and if not, well, at least they have been reminded of your brand.

There are loads of layout options to choose from based on the template you create while setting up Dynamic Remarketing campaign. But the product information (like product price, product image etc) is dynamically created and inserted into the ads by Google, as the information is pulled from your Google Merchant Centre Feed.

Bearing in mind that it *is* pretty clever that you are on a completely different site, days later, being shown some shoes you were looking at absentmindedly at the weekend, as you can probably imagine, it’s not going to be super easy to implement if you want to start showing this type of ad for your online retail business too.

Setting up Google Shopping Dynamic Remarketing Ads

Take a deep breath. This ain’t gonna be easy. Before we get started, here are the things you’ll need to have:

  • Google Analytics account, using Universal Analytics
  • Google Analytics tracking code, updated with the remarketing tag
  • Remarketing and advertising reporting features enabled in Google Analytics
  • An updated privacy policy informing visitors of how their data will be used for remarketing
  • A Google AdWords account
  • Google Merchant Centre Account, with active feed
  • A good knowledge of where stuff lives in AdWords and Google Analytics
  • The will to live

Other things you’ll probably need:

First things first. As a retailer, you need to let Google know that this is your business type. This is because the set up varies from industry to industry.

Log into AdWords and navigate to the Shared Library > Audiences

If you checked off everything on the ‘things you’ll need’ list, the remarketing tag box should be looking like this:

Remarketing Tag Status
On the setup tab, choose your business type, and you’ll be presented with some lovely AdWords code.

Select Business Type For Dynamic Remarketing

Send this code to yourself or your developer. It looks like this:

<!-- Google Code for Remarketing Tag -->
Remarketing tags may not be associated with personally identifiable information or placed on pages related to sensitive categories. See more information and instructions on how to setup the tag on:
<script type="text/javascript">
var google_tag_params = {
ecomm_prodid: 'REPLACE_WITH_VALUE',
ecomm_pagetype: 'REPLACE_WITH_VALUE',
ecomm_totalvalue: 'REPLACE_WITH_VALUE',
<script type="text/javascript">
/* <![CDATA[ */
var google_conversion_id = 994848777;
var google_custom_params = window.google_tag_params;
var google_remarketing_only = true;
/* ]]> */
<script type="text/javascript" src="//">
<div style="display:inline;">
<img height="1" width="1" style="border-style:none;" alt="" src="//;guid=ON&amp;script=0"/>


Here is where it starts to get fun. You’ll need custom parameters to be added before you can begin using Dynamic Remarketing.

Custom Parameters Not Detected AdWords

For retail, the fields are:

ecomm_prodid: The product ID (duh)
ecomm_pagetype: The type of page on your site (home, category, checkout etc.)
ecomm_totalvalue: The monies that your product costs

What the flip are custom parameters?

In simple (ish) terms, according to Google, custom parameters are:

“Key-value pairs that you can implement in the remarketing tag in order to categorize your site visitors in more sophisticated ways to further tailor your bids and ads. The parameters and values that you implement in custom parameters are sent through the tag to your AdWords account and become available when you create remarketing lists.

An online store, for example, can send the product price and the page type (which indicates how close to purchasing a customer is) in the tag to create a list for people who bought any product above a certain price. In this case, the custom parameters that the online store would include in the remarketing tag would be value (price of the product) and pagetype (in this case, the purchase page).“

For custom parameters to work, you’ll need to do a few things:

  • Set up Custom Dimensions in Google Analytics
  • Update your tracking code to include the custom parameters
  • Start being super nice to your developer

To get started with Custom Dimensions, log into Google Analytics and navigate to Property > Custom Dimensions

Here you can create new Custom Dimensions. There are a LOT of different dimensions you can set up, but for the purpose of collecting the information you’ll need to set up Dynamic Remarketing, let’s just go with the basic three:


Add all three of these as Custom Dimensions, tick ‘active’ and select ‘hit’ from the drop down. Then click ‘create’.

As you create each Custom Dimension, you’ll be presented with a code snippet. Copy all three of them and send them to your developer to modify the tracking code.

Once modified, the code should now resemble this:

<script>// <![CDATA[
(function(i,s,o,g,r,a,m){i[‘GoogleAnalyticsObject’]=r;i[r]=i[r]||function(){ (i[r].q=i[r].q||[]).push(arguments)},i[r].l=1*new Date();a=s.createElement(o), m=s.getElementsByTagName(o)[0];a.async=1;a.src=g;m.parentNode.insertBefore(a,m) })(window,document,’script’,’//’,’ga’); ga(‘create’, ‘UA-XXXXX-YY’, ‘auto’); // Insert your GA Web Property ID here, e.g., UA-12345-1 ga(‘require’,’displayfeatures’); // REQUIRED Enables Google Analytics Display Features ga(‘set’,’dimension1?, <ecomm_prodid> ); // REQUIRED Product ID value, e.g., 12345, 67890 ga(‘set’,’dimension2?, <ecomm_pagetype> ); // Optional Page type value, e.g., home, cart, purchase ga(‘set’,’dimension3?, <ecomm_totalvalue> ); // Optional Total value, e.g., 99.95, 5.00, 1500.00 ga(‘send’, ‘pageview’);
// ]]></script>

Guides for developers can be found here and here if further information is needed.

Once this has been configured, and you’ve checked it is working, sit down with your developer and have a nice cup of tea and a biscuit.

If you’ve made it this far, well done. Have a reward.

Bulldog Loves the Leaf Blower

Now let’s get back to business.

Creating audiences

There are a couple of options here; you can use the Custom Dimensions, or go import a pre-configured list. I’d recommend doing both, as this bit is easy peasy lemon squeezy.

To import the list, open Google Analytics in one of your browser tabs and in another, open this landing page and select the retail vertical, then choose the view and linked AdWords account to add the audience.


To use the Custom Dimensions, you’ll need to set up Dynamic Attributes.

Navigate to Remarketing > Dynamic Attributes in Google Analytics. Click + New Attribute.

Here you’ll be able to select the Custom Dimensions you created from the drop downs, like so:

Dynamic Attributes

Setting up the Dynamic Remarketing campaign

Still with me? We’re nearly there. Back to AdWords we go.

  • Create a new Display Network Only campaign
  • Select a campaign with Marketing Objectives
  • Select the Drive Action ‘Buy on your website’

In the Advanced Settings, enable Dynamic Remarketing and choose your business type

You will then need to select a remarketing list to use.

Choose Remarketing List

You can now jump to creating some ads using the Ad Gallery. In the Ad Gallery, you’ll find a whole ton of different ad templates that you can use. There are a few constraints, and they’ll never look as nice as a GDN ad that your designers create, but once you’ve found a few variations that look OK, save those ads and you’re good to go!

Voilà! Now you can show your product listing ads to visitors who have already been to your site and entice them back to make a purchase*.

*Or annoy people as much as Office are annoying me right now.

Office_6   Office_2 Office_4    Office_1   Office_3

The end.

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