Remarketing 101

Find out all you need to know about remarketing in 2022, on both search and social, to get those customers back to your site to convert.

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For many businesses, especially those selling a product/service that requires a more considered buying journey, remarketing can be very effective. 

For example, a home interest brand/product, whose target customer is likely to shop around and think long and hard before purchasing/getting a quote etc. Or if you’re selling expensive items of jewellery that wouldn’t be an impulse buy, remarketing ads can work to entice interested users back to take the plunge and part with their cash.

It was way back in 2014 when I last covered remarketing, so I thought it was a good idea to dive into the subject again. And this time cover more than just Google, as remarketing is something that can be done on many other platforms as well.

What is a remarketing ad?

A remarketing ad is an ad that is created in order to try and entice a user back to a website to get in touch/make a purchase. 

Firstly you need to create a list of customers or potential customers (known as an audience) that you can then target with ads (text, image, or video). There are different ways of creating audiences:

  • Placing a piece of code on your website (pixel or remarketing tag)
  • Using Google Analytics
  • Uploading a customer/email subscriber list
  • Tracking people that have engaged with your brand on Instagram/Facebook

Meta audience options

How to choose a remarketing audience

The service/product you are selling will likely determine the type of audience you want to target, but here are some things you should consider when building an audience:

  • Length of membership (this is the amount of time you’d like people to stay on the list, ie. 7, 14, 30, 540 days etc from their interaction with your site/social profile)
  • The type of interaction they’ve had with your site (ie. visited a certain page/section, come from a chosen source, spent a designated amount of time on the site, added items to cart)
  • Social engagement (ie. people that have engaged, messaged or saved a post on Instagram/ Facebook)
  • Customer list (this can be your database of previous customers or those who are subscribed to your email list)
  • Exclusions (people that you do not want to see the ads)
  • Lookalike/similar audiences (from your lists you can create expanded lists of new potential customers using lookalike or similar lists)

Things to consider when creating audiences

On Google, “Your data segments targeting the Google Display Network must have a minimum of 100 active visitors or users within the last 30 days for your ads to show; segments targeting Google Search must have a minimum of 1,000 active visitors or users.”

So your audience needs to be big enough for your ads to show in the first place. Are you offering a reasonably niche product or service? Would you ideally like to be super granular with your approach and target people that have visited a particular page or section of your site? If so, you need to consider how many people visit those pages in a 30 day period and if it’s enough to build an audience.

Also, when using Google’s Display Network, look at the additional settings available to make your ads work efficiently as possible:

Advanced display ad settings
Think about what devices the ads are best suited for and how many times your ad is shown to people within a given time period (frequency). Google recommends letting it optimise how often your ads are shown but you may feel more comfortable limiting the number of times, so you don’t bombard your audience with ads, all day, everyday.

Content and IP exclusions are also important, to ensure that you’re not wasting budget showing your ads on sensitive sites. Also make sure you exclude your employees/agency/web team (anyone that regularly visits your site but is unlikely to purchase/be a customer).

Content exclusion options include:

Content exclusion options

What should remarketing ads say?

Once you have considered and chosen an appropriate audience for your campaign you then need to think about what ads to show them. Do you want to try and entice them back to purchase by offering a discount code? Similarly, you could show them dynamic ads, which display the product(s) that they were browsing, hoping it triggers their curiosity enough to come back and part with their money.

The landing pages you send visitors too is also important. Do you want to show this, already warm, primed user a different landing page to someone that is coming for the first time? Can you be as bold as to send them directly to the contact us form, if you’re asking them to come back and get in touch? I’ve actually found this to be very effective in the past.

Bearing all this in mind, I think it is fairly safe to say that the goal of remarketing ads is, more often than not, to generate leads/sales. This means that you can use the various optimisation techniques and bidding strategies to help try and achieve this. So on Facebook your campaign objective is likely to be conversions, and on Google you’re likely to choose ‘optimise for conversions/conversion value’ bidding strategies to try and make your campaign as efficient as possible.

What does the future of remarketing look like?

The truth is, this is unclear. Google has already delayed the removal of third-party cookies from its Chrome web browser, which is what it uses to create the audiences for remarketing. Apple has increased its security, making it more difficult for advertisers to collect data about its users. This means that many Meta advertisers will have seen their website visitor audiences shrink since the release of this update.

Google was playing with a new way of targeting people, called FLoC, but it recently switched that idea to Topics but it is unclear whether that will be supported by the other big browsers.

The fact that Google has delayed the departure of third-party cookies until late 2023, shows that it wants to come up with an alternative solution that everyone can be happy with. Something that allows advertisers to target their potential customers whilst keeping their privacy intact. 


Fingers crossed they come up with it soon, but in the meantime, if you need any help with your remarketing strategy, feel free to get in touch.

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