what is remarketing? google display network and social media retargeting

If you’ve ever taken a look at your website’s analytics, you probably know that the vast majority of people who visit your website end up leaving your page and going somewhere else. Only a very small percentage of users will convert. In fact, around 97-98% of your traffic is likely to bounce.

That doesn’t necessarily mean that you have a bad website (although it might). Many people simply get distracted. While they may have had intent to call, sign-up, or purchase, visitors often abandon your site before taking an action.

The good news is that you can find these people and ask them back. Not in person, of course, but through Google remarketing ads that follow them around the web. Marketing once consisted of shouting the same message out to a large crowd. Now, tailored messages can be targeted to the right person at the right time.

Think back to the last time you searched the internet for a shoes or a piece of furniture. After abandoning your Nike cart, you suddenly start seeing Nike ads everywhere. This isn’t just an example of selective attention. You’re not going crazy; those ads are following you. And multiple studies and common sense have shown that people are more likely to convert who have shown interest on your website than those who have not.

Remarketing makes it possible to selectively target key demographics and create lists known as “smart” lists.

Remarketing vs. Retargeting

Before we get into some remarketing strategies, it’s important to know that remarketing is just Google’s term for retargeting. They do that sometimes.

Since Google AdWords is the #1 remarketing network, we will acquiesce and use their term.

What is Remarketing?

Remarketing ads have the ability to selectively target audiences who have visited your website, landing page or app. Classic retargeting uses cookies to track users across the web. You can dive in deeper and deliver specific ads to people who are interested in a particular product or service of yours. You want to target the right people with the right message depending on where they left your site and why.

For example, if a person is interested in new light fixtures and conducts a search for recessed lighting and lands on the recessed lighting page, you can gently retarget them with dynamic remarketing. You may choose to only retarget visitors who land specific service pages rather than your home page. You don’t want to target every single user. Testing and tweaking the set of criteria are absolutely necessary for increasing ROI.

With remarketing, you can:

  • Encourage past site visitors to come back to your site with remarketing across the web
  • Optimize your search campaigns by tailoring bids and ad to past site visitors with remarketing lists for search ads
  • Find new people who share site characteristics with your high-value site visitors and introduce them to your site with Similar Audiences

How Does Remarketing Work?

Classic remarketing relies on a special tracking code, which places “cookies” on the users’ computer. This is a computer code that tags the user and place them in a cookie pool.

With the tracking code in place, you can now serve tailored ads to specific users based on the actions they have taken on your site. Your audiences will encounter ads for your brand, product, or service while they are surfing the web, making them more likely to convert.

The bidding process works the same as the rest of AdWords. You will know exactly how much you are paying per ad and have complete control over your bid.

What is Google AdWords?

Google AdWords is Google’s online advertising service that helps get your ad in front of the right person at the right time. If you think that Google AdWords only encompasses the ads at the top of Google searches, then you might be surprised to find out that Google’s advertising reach extends to more than 1 million websites, apps, videos, and blogs, with the opportunity to reach over 90% of all users on the web. This includes Youtube and Gmail.

Google’s ad tracking and targeting technology allows you to increase brand awareness, recapture old leads, and accurately track your return on investment.

The days of hoping the right audience sees your ad are gone. Now, relevant customers can find you easily with a little help from Google. The days of guessing ROI on marketing efforts are over. With Google AdWords, advertisers can measure their results to the dollar and test variables to determine the best cost-per-lead.

What is dynamic remarketing?

Dynamic ads are one more way to increase your revenue while lowering your costs. Dynamic, in this case, means highly customized remarketing ads.

According to Google, “Sierra Trading Post found that dynamic remarketing campaigns generated 5 times the conversions of regular remarketing campaigns.”

Separate lists are created in Remarketing with Analytics to target users based on their behaviors and past history. You may want to show a different ad to an existing customer than to one that has merely shown interest.

Here are a few behaviors you may want to target and the type of ad you may choose to serve:

Audience criteria Ad type
Users who viewed product-detail pages, but didn’t add those items to their carts Ads for the items they didn’t add to their carts
Users who added items to their carts, but didn’t complete their purchases Ads with a discount code for the items in their carts
Users who purchased items X and Y Ads for related item Z

Source: support.google.com

Non-dynamic remarketing uses a standard remarketing code created in Google Analytics when you enable Advertising features. This will measure users’ sessions and behavior on your site, including certain audience attributes such as age, gender, and interest. You can then use this information to show ads to people who have visited your website or app.

Dynamic ads, on the other hand, let you tweak the page tags with vertical-attribute information so that you can created more refined audience lists. For example, with dynamic remarketing, you can update the tracking code to collect information on how the user interacts with the page and which specific products or services they are interested in.

If you want to serve specific ads to people who have interacted with your job application page, you would need dynamic remarketing to serve ads based on those audience attributes.

Why you should use dynamic remarketing:

  • Ads that scale with your products or services: Pair your feed of products or services with dynamic ads, scaling your ads to cover your entire inventory.
  • Simple, yet powerful feeds: Create a basic .csv, .tsv, .xls, or .xlsx feed. The AdWords product recommendation engine will pull products and services from your feed, determining the best mix of products for each ad based on popularity and what the visitor viewed on your site.
  • High-performance layouts: AdWords predicts which dynamic ad layout is likely to perform best for the person, placement, and platform where the ad will show.
  • Real-time bid optimization: With enhanced CPC and conversion optimizer, AdWords calculates the optimal bid for each impression.

Learn more about dynamic remarketing here and here. Watch this video for some examples of remarketing ads from around the world:

What is a Google Smart List?

We have mentioned “variables” and “sets of criteria” to determine the best remarketing strategy, but knowing which variables to test and market to can be somewhat tricky. Fortunately, Google has created a tool called a “Smart List,” which makes it a lot easier.

According to Google, “A Smart List is a Remarketing Audience that Analytics generates to maximize your conversions. Machine learning determines which users are most likely to convert in subsequent sessions.” You will need to have a Google AdWords account linked to a Google Analytics account in order to use this service.

With Smart Lists, Google does the remarketing strategy for you by determining which users are most likely to convert. The Google algorithm takes into account “dozens of signals, including location, device, browser, referrer, session duration, and page depth to identify users for the audience. The model is typically updated daily to reflect the latest data to which Analytics has access, and users are automatically added to or removed from the audience based on that model.”

In order to generate a Smart List based on the specific factors of your website and user interactions, you need at least 500 monthly ecommerce transactions and 10,000 daily pageviews. If your website does not meet these minimum requirements, then the Smart List is created based on conversion data of websites similar to yours.

If you don’t have a lot of traffic or conversions, you may not want to use Smart Lists because the data will be insufficient. Consider testing Smart Lists, but if your current remarketing campaigns perform better, then it’s better to stick with what works.

Another reason why you may not want to use Smart Lists is that you are trusting Google’s machine-learning program without being able to see behind the curtain. If you want to know exactly which variables Google is using to deliver your ads, you may just want to use dynamic remarketing.

Learn more about Google Smart Lists.

What are the different types of ad formats available to me?

The four different types of display ads available to you on the Google Display Network are:

  • Text – Identical to the text ads in Google search (PPC). You get two lines of text (35 characters each) and a URL.
  • Image – Get very creative with these ads by using relevant images, photography, layouts, and colors. HTML5
  • Video – Embed a video into your ad. Since Youtube and other video sites on the Display Network, video ads will be placed next to relevant videos
  • Rich Media Ads – Rich media ads have animations, interactive elements, or other features that change. Animated banner ads and anything “fancy” are probably rich media ads (see examples).

Learn more about the different display ad formats.

Use Google’s free Display Ad Builder to start your remarketing campaign by selecting banner ads from pre-exisitng templates.

What is social media remarketing?

Even though Facebook and other social media sites are not a part of Google’s Display Network you can remarket to social media users via the platform they are on.

Tracking codes are placed on your website so that you can create customer lists based on who visited your website and when. You can remarket on Facebook using a Facebook pixel (tracking code) which creates a Custom Audience from the information it gathers on your website traffic.

In the Facebook Business Manager, you can segment your audiences based on rules using URL keywords, session duration, and more.

Why you should use Facebook pixels:

  • To bring website visitors back to complete an action.
  • To target specific ads to specific people.
  • To find people who are similar to your desired audience (using “lookalike” audiences).
  • To capture lost leads.

Learn more about creating Custom Facebook Audiences.

While you can spend a lot of time and money experimenting with remarketing ads, the competition is so high, that sometimes it’s more trouble than it’s worth. Save time and money by hiring an agency that specializes in online advertising and remarketing.

We use Google, Bing, and social media remarketing ads to increase conversion rates, capture lost leads, and engage with our client’s target audience. To keep costs low, a campaign manager will monitor your accounts and make tweaks and adjustments as needed.

Start Competing. Track Performance. Get Results.

Contact us for your free remarketing consultation: 1-877-311-5695

More information on digital marketing:

Keep in touch with us on Facebook, Twitter, and Google+ for the latest digital marketing news and information.