Dos and Don’ts in Executing a Retargeting/Remarketing Strategy

This session has two great speakers lined up. Starting it off is David Monsees (@DaveIsDynamic), Google Product Management, doing a deep dive into the Google display network, tagging and targeting initiatives, some new in the last couple weeks.

Traditionally, we talk about remarketing as DR only. Remarketing is also good for search marketers. It can close the leaky funnel or act as insurance by recapturing the audience. Figure out what the audience is interested in and drive them back to the site with a tailored message. 5% of user time is spent in search – 95% outside of search is a lot. Average Americans spend 2 months a year online. They spend more time online than any other medium combined.


For direct response, you can convert consumers who abandoned shopping carts.

84% of users are reached with remarketing in a month. They reach them 10-18 days or more out of the month. They can layer different targeting (a list like cart abandoners) and lay it over another group (groups visiting a fashion site).

Benefit highlights:

  • Auto-optimized bidding: the team has built a lot of smarter marketing specific strategies, a lot of control and are encouraged to tweak campaigns. But even a basic campaign will see a lot of lifting by Google on the backend.
  • User control: mute this ad for display provides users with turning off ads in the Google Display Network (GDN)
  • What’s powering the abilities on the front and back end is the new Remarketing Tag. It’s a revolution in the way Google surfaces the list.
    1. Easy to implement
    2. Advanced list rules gives more flexibility
    3. Back-end optimization
    4. Dynamic values, ability to serve dynamically remarketed creative

But before you can start creating different lists for each of your customer segment, you’ll need to paste the tag across the site. Then, define lists using your site’s URLs. Include words that describe the content of each page.


  • Create sophisticated remarketing lists, defining granular audiences
  • One-time unified tagging
  • Integrate with dynamic ads
  • Reach more people

If you use Google Analytics, there’s an integration with remarketing. Turn a GA tag into a Remarketing tag. If you can create lists based on patterns in the URL, time on site, deathing, secondary referral sources, all these GA metrics can be used for your remarketing. New signals to help you divide lists and see different types of users.

Remarketing Lists for Search Ads

If a user is searching for [shoes] and you know its a user who only looked at sneakers on your site, you can deliver a sneaker-targeted ad – a more personalized, relevant, ideally higher performing creative.


  • Expand your reach
  • Additional layer of targeting for search
  • Re-capture consumer interest

Kevin Lee our moderator asks about the idea that one individual or one cookie ends up on multiple lists. As people move around throughout your site they may be adding themselves to multiple lists. How do you think about this an that users place in the hierarchy of your remarketing? Should they think in the perspective of an individual, particularly one that’s heavily engaged, should be targeted in a hierarchy.

David compares it to a richer version of what you’ve done today with converted users – users in my home page visitors list and not users in my shopping cart. You can say “if this” and “not this”. There’s more finess and detail that can be used. And combining lists is a compelling ability, sussing out the ability to find the response of a certain type of user.


Zach Coelius of Triggit takes the podium next. Remarketing is the killer app of this business; someone who cares is more valuable than someone who hasn’t been to your website. The audience is mostly marketers, more than half have done remarketing.

A cookie on a users browser will show where a user has been on the web. Those cookies are used to target ads based on where they’ve been before and the interest that suggests. This can be a problem if you end up showing ads where you don’t want to show them, or more often than you want to show them. The people on your remarketing list are people who are your customers. You don’t want to annoy them because they’re the most important people to you.

There are 5 rules of retargeting that he’ll share:

  1. Insist on transparency. Make sure you can control where your ad will be shown. Frequency is also an issue. The economics of remarketing is not in favor of the marketer; pay close attention to understanding how often your user is seeing the ads. Understand the where and when of your ads being shown.
  2. Solve for fragmentation. The cookie pool, data, is valuable. You want to reach them all. But if you only target them on one vendor, you’re not leveraging the whole pool. Multi-channel is another issue that needs to be considered. If you can figure out how to reach a user across channels you can bring a strong message.
  3. Segment your customers. Know who bounced off a front page vs. someone who landed in a shopping cart and bounced. The second had a lot of intent but got distracted or changed their mind – they’re valuable. Show them a free shipping ad. Segmentation will drive performance through remarketing. However, if you don’t have scale, that kind of slicing and dicing could be a waste of time. Focus on having pools measured in the 10s of 1000s of individuals.
  4. Creative matters. If a user has been to your site, then use the opportunity of these ads to talk to them. You need them to stop and go what is that, leave the site they’re on. Don’t give short thrift to the creative. Spend more time and money on creative. He’s seen exponentially higher return for investment on creative.
  5. Use control groups. Attribution is a big buggaboo of retargeting. Using a click as a metric for measuring success leads to view-through transactions. But the view-through metric leads to astronomical rates since a lot of that audience was going to come back anyway. Use a control group that gets no ads (5% or 10%) and compare the behavior of the groups and see where the deltas are. Conversion rate on the control group was 1.7% on a test with Kodak – same conversion rate as normal users. For the group that did see ads it was 3+% conversion. The group that saw ads bought more of the product in the ad, too; 700% more photo books purchased by the group that saw an ad to print out photo books. The value couldn’t be seen in the ad click, though. Users weren’t clicking on the ad, they knew how to get to Kodak’s site.


Want more tips?
Check out our post “The Effectiveness of Slightly Creepy Retargeting

Virginia Nussey is the director of content marketing at MobileMonkey. Prior to joining this startup in 2018, Virginia was the operations and content manager at Bruce Clay Inc., having joined the company in 2008 as a writer and blogger.

See Virginia's author page for links to connect on social media.

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