Adwords Consultant Corner: What is Remarketing? What is Retargeting?

Using the magic of Google to catch the “one that got away”…

You’ve experienced it yourself, an amazing connection you’ve been with only with someone for a brief time, where you found yourself later (even years later) kicking yourself for not inviting them for coffee or getting some way to get in touch with them.

It may be a glimmer of lifelong love, or it may be one of the most mind-blowing intellectual conversations of your life.  Whether it’s love, intellectual inquiry, or simply that person you sat with on the train who you realized would have been a “big fish” customer, we’ve all had times where we REALLY wish we could follow up with someone.  That sicking feeling in your heart or gut tells you it was a massive missed opportunity.

Enter Google Remarketing

Well, Google may not help with the hottie you chatted up on the train to Paris whose digits you didn’t get, but for the thousands of customers who may visit your web site, engage with the content but never be heard from again, Google IS willing to pay cupid for you with them!

Say you’re selling wedding dresses, and someone spends time reviewing one of your exclusive designs.  They get interrupted (OOPS! The boss is coming! Daydreaming and browsing done!) and close the site.

You get busy with your job, and their “perfect dress” becomes a dim memory in the back of your mind, with no easy way to follow the meandering path back to the online store.  You don’t remember the name of the site or how you found it. In the hustle and bustle of life you realize you just need to go to the local dress store and find the next best thing.

But WAIT! Is there not a second chance for this fleeting encounter?

You log onto and LO and BEHOLD  the dress of your dreams is there in all its resplendent glory floating in a display ad, as if by magic!

Clearly, this is DESTINY, and you make your way to and make your purchase.  It allows the online store owner to afford braces for their kid, and you get your perfect wedding dress.

So, beyond being a clever search engine, Google has achieved the status of matchmaker for star-crossed customers and stores.

Imagine being able to catch the “one that got away”…

Umm, So What IS Remarketing?

Through the power of Google, when you visit a web site in normal browsing mode you get a “cookie” that helps keep track of your session and future visits.  If you visit the site again you’ll be a new “visit” or “session” but still identified as the same visitor.  This helps keep track of how much the sessions are “new” visitors vs. returning visitors.  They do other things you can learn about here:

Remarketing/retargeting allows you to choose to show ads to people who have visited your site. You can even show ads to people who have done certain things:

1. Visited more than 1 page

2. Spend more than 3 minutes on your site

3. Visited certain product pages

4. Got to the “shopping cart” page, but didn’t complete an order (!)


You can even do fancy things like showing ads for red sweaters to people who went you your “red sweater” page.  Pretty sweet stuff. It takes some management to get into the fancy stuff though.

KEEP IN MIND: you can only do remarketing when you have a certain number of “cookies” in place.

It’s a privacy thing.  With Google you need a list of 100 for standard remarketing, but a list of 1000 for Search remarketing. So, START COLLECTING YOUR REMARKETING LIST BEFORE YOU NEED IT.   It may take a while to get 1000 cookies if you’re a small business without much traffic.

1000 is also a small number.  You need as large a list as you can get if you want to have a decent amount of search volume.

Anywho, for the boring “facts” you can go here I’m just here to make sure you know you should be doing it.

My favorite is RLSA–   This is where you can make money in competitive markets, getting a “leg up” against the competition.


Rule #1 Absolutely All Businesses Should Follow With Remarketing:  Start Yesterday!

Seriously. There is no excuse for not having a remarketing list.

If you decide you want to focus an ad campaign on people searching for your product who have been to your web site, you will have to wait until you get 1000 cookies before you can start.

If you have 500 visitors/month you can develop a Search remarketing list of 3000 souls to have at the ready whenever you need it.  For display ads you could compile a list of 27,000 visitors over the next 540 days and use it ANY TIME. It doesn’t expire- new visitors just cycle in.

It’s an asset that your business can develop which gives you an advantage over the competition.

Folks, this stuff is FREE!  Seriously folks, WHY would you NOT have this on your site?!?

Seriously.  Get on that. Don’t talk to me until you have it done.

(unless you want to hire me to do it).

Google Remarketing vs. Adroll Perfect Audience Retargeting

Google’s Remarketing program is the same basic idea as the other retargeting products out there. They just use a different term for their display remarketing.

Where Google is head and shoulders above ANY retargeting service is that Google offers SEARCH retargeting. (RLSA – Remarketing Lists for Search Advertising).  Not to understate the importance of this difference, Google allows you to increase/tailor your bid specifically to people who have visited your site within the last 180 days.


Restalking & Reannoying

While at its best remarketing can help you find your lost (customer) love, it is not always done well.

When it’s done poorly you can get:

1. Stalkerware.   You ever get the sense that a store is following you around just to construct billboards on every country lane you drive down?  Well, restalking like this is the same mechanism but produces a different emotional response in the customer.  TBH it’s a tough call, but so is courtship.  It’s romantic to track down the hottie who you shared a “kismet moment” with in Paris… across oceans, and against all odds.  Yeah, if she was actually flirting with the Parisian waiter and couldn’t wait to put you in her rearview mirror, then such tracking behavior would be creepy, bordering on terrifying.

Same thing, but in the second example he terribly misread the situation.  Yes, it’s a judgement call but don’t be “that guy”.

I’m not going to explain here how to tell the difference.  You gotta pay big bucks for that kind of customer courtship advice.  Here I would just say “what is it that indicates you should follow up”.  Customer didn’t drop their digits/email on you?  Not a good sign.  They left after one interaction? (EG one page view IE a “bounce”) you may be looking at a restraining order rather than am embrace.

2. Reannoying

Yeah, for all the intellectually brilliant but socially clueless suitors out there (IRL and in Adwords), one good tip to keep in mind in courtship is that the effectiveness of an overture is inversely proportional to the number of previous overtures without positive response.

It is possible to mess up a “good thing” by being too clingy or aggressive.

Don’t ask the customer out ten times a day.  You can have the most wonderful products but if you set your impression cap at infinity you maximize your chance of annoying people who would otherwise like you.

Sure, you can assume they may not notice or see 75% of the ads served to them.  But err on the side of playing a little “hard to get”.  You want to be glimpsed walking through the park, or sipping Cabernet at a outdoor cafe. Not tugging at their sleeve saying “pay attention to me, pay attention to me, pay attention to me”.

Facebook Retargeting

In case the internet was not creepy enough, Facebook was invented.  In case Facebook was not creepy enough, a low-privacy remarketing system was developed by Facebook.

I’ll leave this for another day, but Facebook does not have the same privacy protection Google has.  It makes them money (for now), but G+ starts looking like a much more appealing platform the more I look at Facebook privacy “standards”

Just for grins, here’s a Wikipedia page on Facebook Criticisms. Decide for yourself, but give Wikipedia a buck while you’re there. Heck or don’t go but give them a buck anyway.

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