Introduction to Remarketing

This post will serve as the first in our five part series about Remarketing. Here, we’ll cover the concept and explore the potential of this powerful feature.

Remarketing is the process of showing ads to users who’ve already visited your website. When used effectively, it can be a powerful conversion driver because you’re targeting people who’ve already demonstrated an awareness of your brand, and potential interest in your product or service. They’re pre-qualified!

Google Remarketing ads show on the Google Display Network, the Search Network, and AdWords for Video (Google’s YouTube video advertising platform). While the Display Network and AdWords for Video are generally thought to be less effective direct advertising channels than the Search Network due to the difference in user intent across networks, Remarketing is often the exception.

Here’s how it works:

Users who reach your site get tagged with a cookie, which allows AdWords to follow these users and serve them ads on other content sites across the internet. All users who are tagged are grouped into a master “audience list”, out of which you can build custom user lists based on behavior, demographics, and other criteria. For example, you may want to create a custom list for users who stayed on your site for more than five minutes, or viewed at least five pages.

Remarketing also offers a unique opportunity in terms of messaging. Because of the context in which the user is viewing these ads, you can employ a range of messaging techniques far beyond the generally top-of-funnel messaging required on the Search Network. Remember, these users already know you exist, and may even have a strong relationship with your brand. This means you don’t have to use your limited ad space to introduce yourself. That’s already taken care of. Instead, you can use the ad to take the relationship to the next level.

A few examples of custom Remarketing lists:

  • Provide discount messaging for products the user viewed
  • Provide incentives for users who placed an item in a shopping cart, but did not purchase
  • Up-/cross-sell to users who did complete a purchase
  • Keep your customers aware of new products, services and sales/promotions

Not only does Remarketing provide great flexibility in terms of audience list segmentation, it can also be combined with other Display Network targeting methods. For example, you can combine a custom audience list with specific placement and contextual targeting, in which case your ads would only appear to your custom audience, on your custom placements, and only in the right context. Needless to say, the possibilities for customized targeting are virtually endless.

There are two ways to build Google Remarketing lists:

1.) AdWords Remarketing code

This is a code snippet generated in AdWords and placed on your website. The data is fed back into AdWords and your custom audience lists are built from within the AdWords UI.

2.) Google Analytics

With a simple change to your Google Analytics tracking code, you can create custom audience lists right in Analytics and feed those lists into AdWords. This is generally the better option because Analytics provides much more flexibility in terms of list criteria. (More on this in our next post!)

Dynamic Remarketing

One of those most lethal features in the AdWords arsenal is the ability to combine Remarketing with Google Merchant Center product feed data and serve ads featuring the specific products users viewed. This is when Remarketing really kicks into high gear! Consider the likelihood of conversion when you remarket to users who abandoned their shopping cart with ads featuring the specific product they added.

Facebook Remarketing

Facebook is now another great option for Remarketing since they recently stepped up their game with Website Custom Audiences (WCA). Previously, if you wanted to remarket on Facebook you would have to go through a third party like AdRoll via Facebook FBX. Nowadays all you have to do is install Facebook’s custom remarketing pixel on your site and you’re ready to roll. You then have the ability to create custom lists from your master list, just as with AdWords.

Facebook also allows you to create Remarketing lists in a number of ways beyond WCA. You can upload user data into Facebook directly, create audiences from your MailChimp account, and derive lists from mobile apps.

For more on Facebook Remarketing, check out Jon Loomer’s awesome blog on all things Facebook.


  • Remarketing is extremely powerful and has application in a number of important ways.
  • It’s a great way to drive direct sales, brand development and relationship management.
  • It provides the ability to customize lists to your heart’s content and even to use in combination with other targeting criteria.
  • It’s a no-brainer for any business that understands their conversion funnel and the need to maintain relationships with their users after that initial visit.


Additional Resources:

AdWords ‘Ad Innovations’ Remarketing Introduction

AdWords Dynamic Remarketing Setup Guide

Facebook Website Custom Audiences (by Jon Loomer)