Use AdWords remarketing lists in DoubleClick Search

About AdWords remarketing lists in DoubleClick Search

If you've set up remarketing lists for search ads (RLSA) in AdWords, you can use DoubleClick Search (DS) to:

  • Target search ads, prevent ads from displaying, or adjust keyword bids based on inclusion in an AdWords remarketing list. 
  • See how performance is affected by the remarketing list. You can then download the performance data for offline analysis.

If you use DoubleClick Campaign Manager (DCM) to manage your display advertising, you can sign into DCM and create audience lists of visitors who complete a Floodlight activity on your site. In DS, you can see which DCM audience lists are also responding to your search ads. If you see that a display audience generates paid search conversions at a significantly different rate from other audiences, you may be able to increase the efficiency of your search campaigns by setting up search remarketing targets for this audience.

For example, DCM collects an audience of visitors who land on the "Winter jackets sale" page. If DS shows that this audience later clicks your search ads and converts at a significantly lower cost, you may see more conversions if you use search remarketing targets to increase bids for this audience.

Why use remarketing lists?

Target your message

To bid differently to reach potential customers or to display certain ads only to previous customers, you can set up various remarketing lists to target these customers with a different message and offers.

You may want to increase bids to target a remarketing list when members search for the keywords in a campaign because people who have previously visited your site are more likely to buy,

For example, an athletic shoe company can encourage a second visit to their site by raising bids 25% when remarketing list members search for keywords such as “compare brand x prices".

Another way to target remarketing list members is to only display certain ads to, for example, people who visited your site without converting.

To target these potential customers, the athletic shoe company sets up an AdWords remarketing list to contain customers who have visited their site recently but didn't buy. The ads that display for these customers includes a 25% discount.

Exclude remarketing list members from seeing ads

To focus advertising on new customers who have never visited your site, you can prevent ads from displaying for current customers by excluding a remarketing list members from your advertising. 

For example, to prevent barraging current customers with a new campaign ad blitz, the athletic shoe company excludes the remarketing list in the campaign. Ads from that campaign will not display for existing customers.


A few things to consider when using AdWords remarketing lists in DS

Apply remarketing lists only in a campaign or only in ad groups

Within an AdWords campaign, remarketing lists can be applied only to a campaign or only to ad groups. Remarketing lists, even different lists, can’t be applied at both levels, unless one list excludes members and the other list targets. That is, you can apply a remarketing list to a campaign, and exclude a different remarketing list in an ad group within the campaign.


If you have a campaign that contains five ad groups, and you want to target a remarketing list named PrevCust with all of the ads in the campaign, you would apply the remarketing list to the campaign. The remarketing list is inherited by all of the ad groups.

If you wanted to apply a different remarketing list named PotentialCust to one of the ad groups, you’d need to first remove the PrevCust remarketing list from the campaign. Then you could apply the PotentialCust remarketing list to the ad group. You'd also want to apply the PrevCust remarketing list to all five ad groups.

DS uses AdWords remarketing lists to target ads and adjust bids only for search ads

In AdWords, you can set up both search campaigns and display campaigns to use remarketing lists. DS only manages AdWords remarketing lists in search campaigns. You'll need to sign in to AdWords to set up remarketing on Display Network campaigns.

Some types of remarketing lists that you can create in AdWords can only be used in display campaigns. However, all of the lists you've set up in AdWords appear in DS no matter which network they can be used in. This means that you could apply a remarketing list in DS that will never be used because it isn't valid for the type of ad network that a campaign is targeting. 

The source of a remarketing list determines where the list can be used:

Remarketing lists collected from... Can be used for ads in the...
Google Search Network
Google Display Network

Google Search Network

Google Display Network

Google Display Network

If you apply a remarketing (audience) list that was collected by DCM to AdWords campaigns or ad groups in DS, the list is used only if the campaign targets the Google Display Network. The third-party lists won’t be used to target search ads or adjust bids.

DS-created remarketing lists are different from AdWords remarketing lists

You can use DS to create remarketing lists from search ads that allow you to remarket to specific audiences via DoubleClick Bid Manager or the Google Display Network. These remarketing lists add people to a remarketing list based on the label of a keyword that was served.

DS-created remarketing lists can't be used to target search ads or adjust bids.

Remarketing lists for search ads contain only the cookie IDs (without any personally identifiable information) of customers who have visited your website or completed some other desired conversion action, such as signing up to receive a newsletter.

Overview of how to apply AdWords remarketing lists in DS

The following steps provide the general process for using AdWords remarketing lists in DS. For more detailed steps, see the other articles in this section.

  1. Create remarketing lists in AdWords.

  2. Sync the remarketing lists into DS.
    If you've scheduled engine changes to sync on a regular basis, make sure to wait until the next sync occurs. You'll only see your AdWords remarketing lists after they've been synced into DS.

  3. Apply the remarketing list to do the following:

AdWords remarketing lists and other DS features

  • Remarketing lists aren’t included when you copy AdWords campaigns.
  • Changes to remarketing lists, as well as additions and removals are logged in change history.
  • A conversion goal or a DS bid strategy goal is used to set or recommend only ad group remarketing target bid adjustments.


Next steps:


Was this article helpful?
How can we improve it?