How to Setup a Remarketing Campaign

Retargeting Ad
In this post I'm going to break down a few critical components of remarketing ads, specifically: what is remarketing, how to create a remarketing campaign on the Google Display Network, and advanced remarketing optimizations.

Table of Contents

What is remarketing ads?

Remarketing is a display advertising strategy where you show a banner ad to users who have previously been to your site, but didn’t conduct an action you were hoping for – for example buy an item, fill out a lead form, etc. It’s a nice reminder to the user of your business and how it can benefit them.  In terms of digital return on investment, it’s one of the best things you can do for your business.

You’ve probably experienced this in the past. Say you’re looking at jeans at You ultimately didn’t purchase because you were just killing time on your computer, but within the next several days you see a banner ad from Gap, of the EXACT jeans you were looking at. This reminds you of the jeans and is combined with an offer (i.e. 40% off), which leads you to make the purchase.

This is remarketing in full force, and it’s super effective. It’s so effective as you’re only reaching users who have displayed an active intent to purchase your products or services. You literally can’t find a more targeted form of advertising to reach users with a high intent to purchase your products and services.

Remarketing Ads – Where do I start?

There are many platforms where you can launch a remarketing campaign, from full service platforms like Criteo (they will manage for a fee) or various other self service platforms like Facebook, Amazon, etc. 

I recommend starting with Google. Google has a huge network of websites called the Google Display Network. This network comprises of millions of sites worldwide and the network reaches over 95% of users worldwide. Reach aside, what I love of the Google Display Network is the following: 

  • You only pay per click. That’s right, you don’t buy impressions and hope people click your ad. You only pay for the hand raisers, which are individuals who decided to click on your ad.
  • The Google Display Network has pre-built creative formats. This means you don’t need to hire a creative shop to build out banner ads. All you do is upload text and it will provide stock images to use for your banners or provide images based on your website. Additionally, their creative formats work extremely well, often better than digital ads from a creative shop.
  • You have full control and transparency. You can see exactly what sites your ads were placed on, where to advertise, who to advertise to and how much you pay. Additionally, if you setup conversion tracking, you can see how many orders you are driving from your advertising.

So with that, how do you get started with remarketing on the Google Display Network?  All you need is a piece of code from AdWords which you put on your website to inform Google of the users who have been to your site. Then you create banner ads and launch. From there you can watch the visitors and orders funnel in :).

Now for those who want detailed instructions on how to setup Google Remarketing via AdWords, look no further, see below.

Creating Your Remarketing Ads Campaign

Remarketing Step 1

Create your Google AdWords account, as mentioned Google AdWords is Google’s advertising platform to advertise via Google Search, Display ads on the Google Display Network and YouTube.

Remarketing Step 2

Create your remarketing pixel. This is a snippet of code you place on your site to inform google who has been to your site before.

In AdWords, click on the wrench icon, then “audience manager”, under shared library.

Next, click Audience Sources and “adwords tag”

Select the first option

Next, it will give you a “remarketing”tag to place on your site.

Once the code is placed on the site, click “audience lists” and “website visitors” to create the remarketing list.

Enter the audience name, then put in a rule where the URL contains words that are in your website URL. For example, for diydigitalstrategy, that would be “diydigitalstrategy”. This just means that we will only reach people who has been to my site, and specifically urls that contain diydigitalstrategy.

From there, the audience list is created!

Remarketing Step 3

Create your Remarketing campaign, as listed below.

Click + new campaign

Click display, with a goal of driving sales

Select standard display campaign, and enter your site.

Enter all of your campaign settings, like geo-targeting, campaign name, etc.

Select your budget and for bids, I always default to maximize clicks for my set budget. This will allow Google to squeeze the most out of my investment.

Next, select “remarketing” as the audience we will target.

Select the audience we just created.

Select no conservative auto-targeting (this is a feature that reaches people beyond our remarketing list), enter your bid (the amount you want to pay per click), then click +ad.

Next click + responsive ad (this is an easy ad format that works really well), and follow the instructions to create the ad. See below.

Next, click +images, and select images pulled from your site along with other relevant stock images.

Important to note you need a landscape image and a square image.

Then you have your ad, see below!

Google Remarketing

Then hit, create campaign and you’re set!

Once you have remarketing running, I’m going to detail some advanced optimizations for your consideration.

Advanced Remarketing Ads Techniques

Google Analytics – AdWords Integration

While the AdWords pixel is great for a standard remarketing campaign and just getting started, there is so much more you can do if you link Google Analytics with AdWords. By doing so you can create highly customized audiences to target based on site engagement. You can create rules to only show your ad to users displaying a significant level of intent to purchase, based on how they’re visiting your site.  Several examples below.

  • You can create customized audiences based on site engagement. For example, you can create audiences based on:
  • Time spent on site (users who spent 2+ minutes on site)
  • Pages viewed (users who viewed 2+ pages)
  • Returning visitors (users who visited the site two times in the last 7 days)
  • Users who came in through high performing marketing channels such as Google Shopping, Facebook Look-a-like audiences, etc.

Unique bids by audience

Based on the above example, you may want to add in all of the mentioned audiences into an ad group, as they all seem like they would be ideal candidates to take action from your site. If that’s the case, add them to your ad group and you can review performance in time. As you have performance data rolling in, you’ll find that some audiences perform better than others. For these instances you can place bid modifiers for each audience, based on the commercial value each has.

Automated Bidding

This is likely one of the most impactful tactics you can do for a remarketing campaign. Once you have all of the audiences populated within the campaign, you can set the bid strategy to either maximize conversions (if you’re limited to a budget), or tCPA, which means target CPA, if you have unlimited budget, so long as you hit the target per conversion.

By implementing this bidding strategy, you give full control to Google, but it’s worth it. Google knows which audiences and users will have a high likelihood of conversions and push on those audiences, alternatively pull back on users that are likely not to perform as well.

Sequential Remarketing

This sounds super advanced and sophisticated, but it’s not as hard as it sounds.  Sequential remarketing is simply the act of customizing our messaging based on time since the last time the user has been to the site. For example, if a user visited an apparel website, an advertiser can deliver heightening offers the longer time has lapsed since the user left the site, in an effort to get them back and close the sale.

To do so, it’s not insanely hard, all you need to do is create customized ad groups, targeting an audience based on time elapsed since they’ve visited your site. You could create an audience list of 24 yours, 24 -72 hours, then 4-7 days after. Each ad group will have an audience, based on time elapsed, and each ad group will have a banner ad, targeted towards that audience.

It’s a bit of upfront work, but I’ve seen it work really well.

For those who would like a how to tutorial – click to visit my Google Ads Courses course, which covers setting up a Google remarketing campaign.
Ben Lund

Ben Lund

Ben Lund is a 14+ year digital advertising vet who founded Rise Marketing Group. Outside of managing his agency, he offers advertising courses on SkillShare and routinely shares his best practices on

Ben Lund

Ben Lund

Ben Lund is a 14+ year digital advertising vet who founded Rise Marketing Group. Outside of managing his agency, he offers advertising courses on SkillShare and routinely shares his best practices on

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While I am sharing a good amount of free information through DIY Digital Strategy, if you need more help, feel free to drop me a line on my contact page, as my agency Rise Marketing Group helps clients of all sizes.
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