About AdWords remarketing lists for search ads

Remarketing lists for search ads (RLSA) is a feature that lets you customize your search ads campaign for people who have previously visited your site, and tailor your bids and ads to these visitors when they're searching on Google.

When people leave your site without buying anything, for example, remarketing lists for search ads helps you connect with these potential customers when they continue looking for what they need on Google Search. You can set your bids, create ads, or select keywords keeping in mind that these customers have previously visited your website. Remarketing lists for search ads uses remarketing lists to enable these customizations.

There are two basic strategies for using remarketing lists with search ads:

  • You can bid on keywords that you don't normally bid on just for people who have recently visited your site, or have converted on your site in the past. This can help you increase your sales. For example, you could bid on more generic keywords only for people who have previously purchased from your site.
  • You can optimize bids for your existing keywords for visitors on your remarketing lists. For example, you can increase your bid by 25% for those who previously viewed your website in the last 30 days. Or, you could show a different ad to site visitors who have placed items in a shopping cart but have not purchased them.

Video

Watch a Google AdWords webinar to learn more about remarketing lists for search ads (available in English only).

How remarketing lists for search ads work

To start using remarketing lists for search ads, you create a remarketing list and add a snippet of code that you get from AdWords, called a remarketing tag, to your site. You can add the new remarketing tag to every page in your site. The code tells AdWords to add every site visitor to your list. When people visit your homepage, for example, the cookies associated with their browsers are added to the remarketing list.

Once the remarketing tag is added to your site, you can add the remarketing list to an ad group that has keywords, bids and ads with a message tailored to customers on the remarketing list. These customized ads will show to people who have already been to your site when they later search on Google. These messages won't be shown to people who aren't on the list.

Keep in mind: A remarketing list for Google search ads needs to have a minimum number of 1000 cookies before the list can be used to tailor your search ads. This helps protect the privacy of those who make up your list.

Example

People looking for running shoes visit a sports apparel website to check out the available styles, and look at the shoe section of the site. The site could add these shoppers to a "Shoe category" list. Then, for example, the site could bid more for these visitors next time they search for running shoes on Google.

See how an advertiser used remarketing lists for search ads

Tirendo, a European online tire retailer, saw a 161% conversion rate increase with remarketing lists for search ads, leading to a 22% overall sales increase. Read the case study (available in English only).

Set up your remarketing lists for search ads campaign

When you visit the "Audiences" section of the Shared library for the first time, you'll find the "All visitors" list that we've created for you. This list will also appear on the Audiences tab, under the main Campaigns tab, once you click the + Remarketing button. Follow these steps to start using remarketing lists in your campaign:

  1. Create a new "Search Network only" campaign, or select an existing search campaign and ad group.
  2. Click the Audiences tab, next to the Keywords tab. Audiences tab

    If you don't see this tab, you'll need to enable it by clicking the drop-down menu at the end of the tab bar, and selecting "Audiences."

  3. Click + Remarketing.
  4. Add the remarketing list to your ad group. After clicking + Remarketing on the Audiences tab, you'll find the "All visitors" list and any other rule-based lists you've created for your different groups of site visitors.
  5. Create additional remarketing lists (make sure you select the Audiences tab instead of the Display Network tab when following the steps to create a list).
  6. Add the remarketing tag across your entire site.

Some things to keep in mind as you set up your remarketing lists for search ads

  • You place a single tag once throughout your site, and create as many lists as you want based on sections of your site that people visit.
  • Categorizing your visitors by creating more refined lists allows you to better tailor your ads and your bid to optimize performance.
  • You can place one tag in the footer of your site that will work on all pages. You can also paste the tag using a content management system.
  • These are the list types available for Google Search:
    Type Tags / Definitions Notes
    Tag-based -- These lists are based directly on the tags on your website
    Rule-based URL contains ... Lists based on rules about the URLs visited
    Combination -- Any combination of the two types of lists above

    Some lists, including those with custom parameters, are available only on the Display Network. To create these types of lists, you'll need to create a "Display Network only" campaign or a "Search and Display Networks - All features" campaign.

Setting bids, tailoring ads, and copying campaigns
  • If you want to change the bids on existing keywords for people on your remarketing lists, you can use the bid adjustments feature. You can set bid adjustments for remarketing lists in your ad groups.
  • If you're planning to bid on keywords that you don't normally bid on so you can show your ads to people on your remarketing lists, then you can create a new campaign with these keywords.
  • If you want show different ads to people on your remarketing list, you can copy your existing campaign or create a new campaign before using remarketing lists for search ads. If you create a copy of an existing campaign for remarketing, you'll have two different campaigns in your account, and you can change the bids for the keywords.

    When you copy a campaign for using remarketing lists for search ads, and create new ads for your site visitors, ads from the campaign with the remarketing list are shown to people on the remarketing list. Ads from the original campaign are shown to people who aren't on the remarketing list.

Tip

Once you've set up your campaign with a remarketing list, update the bids and budgets and create customized ads, keeping in mind that people on your list have already shown an interest in your product or service.

Different list sizes for different networks

In the Shared library, you'll see two remarketing list sizes: one for Google Search and one for the Display Network. These sizes can be significantly different because there are two different types of cookies used to create these lists. In addition, some remarketing lists are available for both Google Search and the Display Network, while others are available for the Display Network only.

Strategies and optimization for remarketing lists for search ads
  • Bidding higher for past site visitors can help you increase your revenue and ROI. If you're using remarketing lists for search ads to adjust your bids, focus on keywords that aren't yet in the top position. Remarketing lists for search ads allows you to adjust your  bids for those customers that have been to your website before, and bid aggressively for this audience.

  • Bidding on new keywords can help you increase conversions. With remarketing lists for search ads, you can drive conversions from new searches by bidding higher on generic keywords, or by changing existing keywords from narrower match types to broader match types. When your ads are targeted to your past site visitors, choosing a broader keyword match type can help you improve your campaign performance. Popular keywords that might not be profitable for most customers can often become profitable for people who already visited your site.

  • When you target more generic keywords, use ads to highlight products that are most relevant to people on your remarketing lists. For example, if you're creating ads to show to people who visited the pet food section of your site, you can highlight pet food in those ads.
  • Tailor your ad text to your past site visitors. You can highlight new products, recent deals, and offers to people who visited your site before, or you can tailor your brand ads based on recent product lines your visitors viewed.
  • Use data. The statistics on the Audiences tab can help you monitor how your remarketing  lists are performing, so you can set or edit bid adjustments as needed.
Using AdWords Editor to set your remarketing for search ads campaigns

You can use AdWords Editor to set up multiple remarketing lists for search ads campaigns. Follow the AdWords Editor guidelines to set up your campaigns, and then follow these two steps:

  • Step 1: Associate the remarketing lists with the your ad groups from the Audiences sub-tab under the Targeting tab.
  • Step 2: If you're adding remarketing lists to your main search campaign, set the targeting setting to "Bid only." The targeting setting is available from the Ad groups tab, in the "Flexible reach" section. When you set the targeting to "Bid only," AdWords shows ads to all users, and applies bid adjustments you've set for people on your remarketing list.

    If you're setting up a duplicate campaign for remarketing lists for search ads, then set the targeting to "Target and bid." With this setting, AdWords shows ads from your campaign only to people on your remarketing list.

    AdWords Editor's default setting is "Target and bid," which restricts your traffic to people on the remarketing list only.