Convoy Blog

How to… Set Up Adwords Remarketing

July 12th, 2013 by

So the buzzword of the moment appears to be ‘remarketing’, or ‘retargeting’, depending on who you speak to. This smart system allows you to basically target advertising at those who have been to your site and are aware of you. You can segment your visitors to the Nth degree, separating those who have bought from you before, those who add to the cart but do not convert, those who have browsed a certain page on your site, and so on. You can then target specific messages to each of them.

The benefits of remarketing include:

This makes the creation of specific, targeted campaign ads which genuinely entice qualified individuals back to your site seem like a no-brainer…

If to you, like me, this is a fairly new and exciting concept then you probably want to get cracking on compiling those lists asap. But, as I found when it came to actually set up my site and campaigns to run re-marketing, the advice on basic, first campaign set-up itself is a little sparse.

After managing to circumnavigate the help sections in Google Adwords and Analytics (which usefully give two different solutions to one problem), as well as piecing together information from a number of very helpful bloggers, I have come up with this guide to setting up a basic Adwords remarketing campaign.

I am not a techie. I like online marketing and I like the data I get from Adwords and Analytics but put a piece of html code in front of me and I turn into a jibbering wreck. So I have tried to write this in a way that I would have liked when I was tearing my hair out about this time last week…

Campaign Critical… On Site Analytics / Adwords Code

According to the Google help centre, as long as you have a linked Analytics and Adwords Account, it really is as simple as changing one line of tracking code on your site from this:

ga.src = (‘https:’ == document.location.protocol ? ‘https://ssl’ : ‘http://www’) + ‘’;

to this:

ga.src = (‘https:’ == document.location.protocol ? ‘https://’ : ‘http://’) + ‘’;

And with a small addition to your onsite privacy policy – something similar to this:


This website uses the following cookies:

Google Analytics: This cookie allows us to see information on user website activities including, but not limited to pageviews, source and time spent on the website. The information is depersonalised and displayed as numbers, meaning it cannot be tracked back to individuals. This helps to protect your privacy.

DoubleClick: We use remarketing codes to log when users view specific pages, allowing us to provide targeted advertising in the future.

You are off, and can start creating very cool variables from which to segment all of your visitors. The sales/enquiries/downloads will just come flooding in right…? Well no, not exactly.

To create a New Remarketing List you first have to go to the Admin Tab in Analytics. From here, you select Remarketing and then + New Remarketing List.

I created three lists to start with, the three predefined Analytics ones – one for all site visitors (All Site Visitors), one for those who had viewed my cart page (Visitors to Cart Page) and one for those who have completed a predefined goal conversion on site (Online Order Completions). Defining these and creating from the start allows for easier segmenting later on.

One point to note is that once you have created a new list, you can neither delete nor rename it. You will also need to set a Membership duration at this point. This can be any duration from 1-540 days depending on your own individual site visitor volumes and goals.

Creating Remarketing Audience Lists

Then you just have to sit back and let Google run up this list for you – the speed at which the list will populate is entirely dependent on the amount of traffic you get to your site.

So… when can I start actually remarketing?

Campaigns cannot start running until there are 100 members on the list. Whilst I was waiting for the numbers to accumulate I used the time lag to create my targeted Adwords Remarketing campaign.

First I created a New Campaign – this is best practice in order to allow clearer targeting and also to be able to see results in a far clearer segmented way in Analytics.

Creating A Remarketing Campaign in Adwords

Create a New Campaign to target Display Network Only.

Create A Display Campaign

Name Your Campaign and Select the Remarketing option:

Select Remarketing Settings

Then go through the Campaign settings as you would a normal Keyword based campaign and select daily budget, location, language and device targeting settings and any ad scheduling or delivery options you want to specify for this campaign. Small point to note: Google recommends not splitting out by location, language or device due to the nature of the Display Network. But you still have the option if this is something that your campaign requires. Also be sure to remember to set ad frequency capping – we look to show adds to list members between 3-5 times a day. Miss this step and you could potentially be subjecting a previous visitor to ads 20+ times a day, which is a sure-fire way to irritate a potential customer!

Once you have pressed save and continue, you need to create the Ad Group. As per other campaigns you can have multiple ad groups per campaign, although we recommend one highly targeted and specific ad group per campaign. This makes reporting and management far simpler.

Remarketing Ad Group Creation

Name your Ad Group, set your maximum CPC and then click on the Remarketing lists tab. Here you will see the lists created earlier in Analytics. Select the Audience list you want to remarket to and Save and continue.

The next step is ad creation. You have many options, as the number of Display spaces on the Display network is hugely varied. For this campaign I chose to use the Display Ad Builder to build Display ads, but your can also add text or image ads to your ad group. Choose a template and create your ads. I personally found that I had issues with Image and text layer overlay in ad builder so have found it easier to create the ads outside of Adwords, in a programme such as Photoshop, and then save to the correct pixel size and upload.

At this point be sure to upload/create an ad in all 6 of the pre specified display ad sizes, this way you have a greater chance of your ads being shown on a larger number of sites on the Display Network. When uploading ads using this method, rather irritatingly you have to do these one at a time.

When creating your display ads, similar best practice rules apply to text ad creation – make content/images compelling and relevant, include USPs and offers if available and always include a Call to Action. Specify Display and Destination URL’s and name your ad in a way that makes it instantly recognisable. Once you are happy with the ad, then Review and Finish and success! Your Campaign is almost ready to run.


At this point exclusions are added to the campaign – in this example, I do not want visitors to have completed a conversion or visitors who have added items to their Cart without converting (my two additional remarketing lists from earlier) to see my general Campaign content. In order to exclude these two groups, simply go to the Display Network Tab and select Interests & Remarketing:

Setting Remarketing Exclusions

Then Expand the Exclusions option from the bottom left of the table. Here you are able to exclude any options from your campaign. In this example, I just want to exclude my earlier remarketing lists so I would select the Exclusions Interests & Remarketing tab, select Remarketing lists to exclude at Campaign level and select my two excluded audiences. Once saved, this campaign will no longer show to these two lists (providing each have at least 100 members).

Remarketing Exclusions Settings

As soon as the list has reached 100, the campaign will start to run. If you want to see how many members your lists currently have, you just need to go to the Shared Library and Select Audiences where you will be able to see the up to date Lists member count. Bear in mind it does not reflect real time numbers; in my experience there is a time lag from Analytics to Adwords of around 3-4 hours.

Then you can go on to create any combination of audiences in order to target your site visitors – in this example I have now gone on to create a campaign to target the Visitors who added to cart without converting (by excluding Online Order Completion and Site Visitors Audiences) and visitors who completed an online conversion (by excluding all general site visitors and those who did not convert).

An additional point to note: when the campaign originally started, I was quite shocked at the CTR – expect this to be around 0.5%, a far cry from our standard target for Click Through Rate. This could potentially be improved over time by exclusions but from researching this it seems fairly standard. Bear in mind that while CTR is so much lower, Conversion rate in general is substantially higher; the more targeted the ads are, the higher this will be.

We are already seeing the success of these campaigns benefiting our clients through not only encouraging online sales but also online form submissions and document downloads among other actions.

There are multiple other potential benefits for remarketing:

to name but a few…

Happy Remarketing!

With thanks to,, and



  1. junaid khawaja

    I finished for a remarketing campaign some weeks ago for a client but it was not totally helpful as I received only few impressions (My list size was 2000 and targeted area is Brooklyn, NY). Therefore, I added some placements to targeting in the same campaign and since then I am receiving impressions and clicks. My question is quite simple as I just want to know if I am doing it right or targeting the wrong audience instead of Remarketing lists?

  2. Marketing by Data

    Great info for getting started with a remarketing campaign. It is too bad that you have to accumulate 100 visitors on the list in order for ads to start running. Especially for local businesses who do not get the necessary traffic.

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