Remarketing 101

Petra Milin

Traffic Manager

Be smart when you segment your audience, invest in remarketing and it will pay itself off.


Remarketing enables you to serve ads only to specific people who visited your website, did a certain action on your website, or target them by any other of many criteria available.

Users are generally not ready to buy, register or subscribe right away. They tend to do a bit of research as a starting point of the process. With remarketing, we remind that person who was at one point interested in buying those red shoes to return to the website, and make the purchase. Since those people are already familliar with the brand, ads have a bigger impact on them.

Each website has an audience of a certain profile. With classic display advertising campaigns, you can only target that audience partially. That is why we use remarketing campaigns, to show ads only to users who have shown interest in some products or services.


People who visit your website have various intentions. When planning a remarketing campaign, you should consider how their intentions could affect your business goals.

The most important thing in visitor segmentation is to make reasonable assumptions based on visitor behaviour and the possibility of conversion. It’s important to note that more content on the website means that visitors have more choices, which makes it easier for us to segment them.


The message you deliver with remarketing ads should be specifically tailored to meet the needs of the users. Therefore, it’s crucial to understand your target audience, their behaviour and potential actions.

Here’s an example. Let’s say that you have a new brand of natural cosmetics that just hit the markets and you want to advertise it. We’ll develop a remarketing strategy that will look like this:

Phase 1: We’re selling natural cosmetics, new on the market – first entry, broad targeting

Phase 2: Nourishing face cosmetics, 100% natural ingredients – remarketing ads for visitors segmented by product categories

Phase 3: Your favorite face cosmetics at a special price – a call for additional conversion with added benefits


There are various ways of setting up remarketing and remarketing list options, depending on advertising channel that you use. Here is what you need to know about setting up remarketing on Google AdWords, Facebook and YouTube.


There are two ways to set up Google AdWords remarketing. One is directly through AdWords, and the other is through Google Analytics that is linked with your AdWords account.

Set up remarketing through AdWords

First you have to generate a remarketing code in AdWords and then paste it into your website code and of all its subpages. You can now create remarketing lists which are based on your websites URLs. This means that your remarketing audiences will be people who visited a certain subpage, people who didn’t visit a specific subpage or any combination of available variables.


There is also an option to create a list of people who were on the website at a specific period.

For example, if you have a promotion of a new product on your website for two weeks, you create an audience of people who visited your website in that period. You can retarget that audience a few days later with a special offer for that product and see what happens.

If you placed a conversion tag on the website, you can have an audience of people who converted. Usually, you might want to exclude them because the chances of them converting again are low.

AdWords remarketing tag starts collecting visitor information as soon as we set it up. If we decide to create a new list, let’s say, 20 days after the set up, our installed AdWords remarketing tag can automatically populate it with information because it remembers all of the visitors that were on the website in the last 30 days. This is called a lookback.

Finally, you decide for how long do you want to keep users on your remarketing lists. You should adjust it according to expected decision making time of your users. For example, in tourism, an average decision making time is around 45 days, while the maximum number of days a user can be on the list is 540.

Set up remarketing through Analytics

To do this, you need to link your Analytics account to your AdWords account.

Analytics remarketing lists have a lot more options compared to AdWords. In addition to all of the basic list creating options as in AdWords, you have advanced visitor segmentation options which you can use to target users based on practically anything. There is a small catch though. To be able to use remarketing lists on AdWords, you need to have an audience of at least 100 users.


For example, you can create a funnel – an exact set of criteria that have to be fulfilled. Let’s say that you own an online bookstore. You are sending a newsletter with new editions and want to retarget people who landed on the website via that newsletter. Your list will have people who:

1. Arrived via newsletter

2. Visited a subpage of a certain book

3. Didn’t buy it/put it in the cart

A couple of days later you put a special offer on those editions, and target people who checked them out but didn’t buy them with a custom message. The purpose is to get them back to the website so they can buy the book they were interested in, but at a more affordable price.


To set up Facebook remarketing you need to use ‘Web custom audience’. It’s the latest form of Facebook’s custom audiences.

Similar to AdWords, you generate a remarketing pixel and paste it in your website code. This enables you to create lists of people who visited your website or any combination as described in AdWords.


You can also filter this audience when setting up your Facebook campaign and choose to target, eg. only women or people under 30.

Facebook remarketing has, until recently, been possible only through some tools like AdRoll and Perfect Audience that take commission in addition to charged clicks. Even with that commission remarketing, campaigns are cost-effective. Nowadays, every advertiser has the option to use Facebook remarketing.


YouTube campaigns are set up in Google AdWords interface, so the first thing you need to do is link your YouTube Channel with an AdWords account. You can then create a list that can contain people who viewed your video, liked some videos, subscribed to your channel etc. YouTube also has 30 days of lookback so you can include activity of people even before you linked your accounts.

Since these remarketing lists are in your AdWords, you can also use them in AdWords campaigns and vice versa, you can use AdWords remarketing lists in YouTube campaigns (even though, according to Help manual, you shouldn’t be able to do so).

In conclusion, next time you create an advertising plan, make sure to take some time to prepare a good remarketing strategy that will help you meet your business goals.


Petra Milin

Traffic Manager

Google's BFF. Tough girl with an attitude that gets things done. Like a cat, you never know if she will scratch you or purr. Passionate about eating, sleeping and dancing.

All stories by Petra


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Very interesting information about remarketing.:)

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