Strategies for setting up user lists

How you set up your remarketing campaign depends largely on your business goals and the types of customers that you want to reach. To help you meet your goals, we've included some tips and suggestions below to keep in mind as you set up your remarketing campaign.

Reach all visitors to your site

The most basic way to remarket is to reach all the visitors to your site. This means that anyone who visits your site can see your remarketing ads. Ad Exchange automatically offers a site remarketing tag. To create a user list to reach all the visitors to your site, add the remarketing tag to your site.

To reach your visitors to your homepage only, create a user list where the URL equals your homepage URL:

Showcase different product categories

To showcase and display ads for different product categories, you can create a user list for each product category. Simply create a user list using a URL that contains the "category_name", or something similar.


Jane owns an online clothing store and would like to show remarketing ads to customers shopping for women's apparel that are different from the ads she wants to show to customers shopping for men's apparel. She creates an ad that appears for customers who browsed her "Women's Apparel" page, as well as a different ad for customers that browsed the "Men's Apparel" page.

Appeal to visitors who didn't convert

If your site attracted visitors, but they didn't convert, you can set up a user list to attract those customers back to your site. Once you have a user list targeting all visitors to your site, create a user list for people who've already completed a conversion on your site. Set your targeting to include the list of visitors to your site while excluding the visitors who already converted.


Maria's online furniture store attracts a lot of visitors, but she wants to reach the visitors who didn't purchase. Maria targets each list in such a way to reach visitors who didn't purchase from her store to keep them aware of the products that her business offers.

Re-engage visitors with abandoned shopping carts

Sometimes people place items in their online shopping carts without completing their purchase. Since these customers are often very close to making a purchasing decision, it can be a valuable opportunity to reach out to them and help them make the sale.

To reach people who have put at least one item in the cart, you can create a list of customers who have visited your "Shopping cart" page (the URL might contain cart.asp, for example). But in this instance, you don't want to include all the people who actually completed the purchase.

You can create a second list of people who completed their purchase and visited an "Order confirmation" page (the confirmation page might contain purchase.asp in the URL, but make sure you check your own site's URL). Set your targeting to include the list of shoppers on your site while excluding the shoppers who already purchased.


Nina runs an online electronics store, and she often finds that her customers put big-ticket items in their shopping carts, but don't always follow through with their purchases. Nina decides to set up a remarketing campaign to attract these customers back to her store and hopefully complete the sale.

Up-sell or cross-sell to existing customers

Customers who've already purchased items from your site may also be interested in complementary products or services that you offer. By creating a list of "converted customers", you reach a much smaller group of people, but these customers are already familiar with and interested in your business.

Be sure to customize your ads to tailor them to this group. You can also create user lists for certain products, so if customers have viewed certain items and then made a purchase, you could show them ads for another related product.


Jason owns a gardening supply store and wants to reach customers who already viewed the plant seeds section from his store and then made a purchase. He knows customers who purchased plant seeds are often interested in plant food products, so he sets up a remarketing campaign to advertise these related products to those existing customers.

Reach customers within a certain time period

If you expect customers are likely to purchase products or services from your business within a certain time period after their initial interactions with your business, you can create a user list with a specific membership duration.

If you want to reach customers who made a purchase anytime from 30-90 days ago, first create a user list with a 30-day duration. Then, create a second list with a 90-day duration. Target your users in such a way to reach all customers within the 90-day list, but not the 30-day list.


Mark owns a video game site. He knows that customers who buy a gaming console from his site often buy more games 30-90 days later, but those who exceed the 90-day duration are unlikely to make another purchase. Mark decides to set up a remarketing campaign to sell video games to all customers who bought a console 30-90 days ago.

Tips for creating remarketing ads

Tailor your ads to your remarketing strategy

Your creative strategy is just as important as your user list strategy. For example, when you're remarketing to people who visited the Women's Outerwear section of your site, it would be more relevant to show them an ad promoting women's down jackets, instead of a generic ad.

Here are some general recommendations for your remarketing ads:

  • They should be relevant to the audience you want to reach.
  • They should have the same look and feel as your site.
  • They should have a compelling call-to-action.

Using all ad formats and sizes to reach your audience

To reach as many customers as possible on the web, we recommend creating text and display ads for your remarketing campaign. You might also want to use multiple display ad sizes, and test which format works best for your campaign.

Ads are most effective when they're tailored to the customers you're trying to reach. This applies both to text and display ads.


If you're reaching a list of visitors who viewed the cupcake section of your bakery site, you should show them an ad about chocolate cupcakes, instead of multigrain bread.

Tips for driving reach and performance

Driving reach

Grow list size by driving traffic to your site
Use a complementary online advertising strategy to attract more people to your site so you can add them to your list. Contextual and search campaigns are effective ways to achieve this. Measure the effectiveness of the combined campaigns.

Remove targeting restrictions (for example, country and language)
Since remarketing can help you reach your ideal customers, you should be able to show them ads no matter where they're on the web. Your site visitors may be multi-lingual and may access your site from around the world, so make sure that in your campaign settings you select to target all languages. When you choose your location targeting, keep in mind that you should be able serve customers in the regions you target.

Extend the duration of your lists
Increasing the duration of your list -- from 30 to 60 days, for example -- allows you to engage with people who visit your site within the specified time period. The longer the duration, the more users you have on your list (in most cases).

Driving performance

Implement conversion tracking and focus on top performing sites

Conversion tracking lets you see how many conversions you're getting from your remarketing campaign. You can also evaluate your performance on the sites that showed your ads and decide how to bid and optimize based on this data.

If you realize that you're spending a large percentage of your budget on one or two sites but you aren't getting enough conversions to justify the investment, you could decrease your bid for this site or exclude the site from your campaign. Conversely, if a handful of sites are performing exceptionally well and delivering a low CPA, you may want to increase your bid on these sites. 

Decrease the duration of the list to get only the most recent visitors
To increase the performance of your list, you could decrease its membership duration to get only the most recent visitors. However, decreasing the duration could limit the number of potential customers you're able to reach.

Reduce the Frequency Cap if you use CPM bidding
The Frequency Cap limits the number of times a user is exposed to an ad per day, which could reduce your impression volume.

Consider ad scheduling
Ad scheduling lets you specify certain hours or days of the week when you want your Ad Exchange ads to show so you can reach your customers while they're awake and online to see your ads.

Bidding strategies

Basic bidding strategies

Your remarketing campaign reaches people who have already been to your site and can be considered as potential customers. Placing a high bid enables you to reach more people on the list, maximizing your exposure to this valuable audience.

When determining what bid to set for your remarketing campaigns, consider the value of your customers in each of your user lists.


If you sell electronics, and you sell TVs at a higher price than cameras, then you might want to bid higher for a user list that targets visitors to your TV pages than for a list created for your camera pages.

Let's say that you've set up two custom combinations in order to target two sets of customers:

  • Those who have visited your site but haven't initiated a purchase
  • Those who have already begun the checkout process on your site but abandoned it without completing a purchase

People who have already added products to their shopping carts are more likely to complete a purchase, and therefore are probably more valuable to you. In this case, you can bid higher for the ad group with this user list.

Using bids to maximize value

Here are some bid strategies that can help you improve your remarketing performance:

  • If you're happy with the performance of your remarketing campaign, you should consider raising your bid to reach more customers and improve your ROI. Raising your bid can help you improve your ad's position, increasing your chances of appearing consistently on sites to people on your user list.
  • If you've created user lists with various membership duration settings, you can use bid management to your advantage. Say that you want to reach visitors who came to your site in the past 30 days separately from people who visited your site in the last seven days. You can create two different lists, each with varying durations, and then bid more aggressively for the list that is more valuable to you.


You own an electronics site and know that your customers are more likely to purchase a television within the first week after viewing your television pages. Then, you may want to bid more for people who have joined your list within the last seven days. People who visited your site within 30 days might still buy your products, but you may not want to bid as aggressively for these customers.

Here's how you could accomplish this strategy:

  • Create a list of television page viewers with the membership duration set to seven days, and target this list with a more aggressive bid.
  • Create a second list of television page viewers with a membership duration set to 30 days. To prevent reaching your seven-day visitors with both lists, create a custom combination to target your 30-day membership list, exclude the seven-day list and target the day 8-30 day visitors with a less aggressive bid.
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