Set up your remarketing lists for search ads campaign

Remarketing lists for search ads allow you to customize your Search Network campaigns to reach people who have previously visited your website. This article explains how to use these lists in your Search campaigns.

How it works

You can apply remarketing lists for bidding and targeting to ad groups or campaigns -- but not to both levels at the same time for a given campaign.

Let's say you added remarketing lists to a set of ad groups, and now you want to use the remarketing lists for the entire campaign. To do so, first remove the remarketing lists from the ad groups within the campaign, then apply them at the campaign level.

Similarly, if you’ve applied remarketing lists to a campaign, and now you want to use them for targeting some ad groups within the campaign, add the lists again to each ad group in that campaign. There isn't a limit on switching the levels, you just need to follow the correct order.


Once you tag your site for remarketing, you’ll see a few automatically created remarketing lists in your Audience Manager. You can use these lists right away or create new remarketing lists, and apply them for bidding or targeting in your ad groups or campaigns.

To apply remarketing lists to a single Search Network campaign or ad group:

  1. Create a new "Search" campaign, or select an existing search campaign or ad group.
  2. From the page menu on the left, click Audiences.
  3. Click the pencil icon Optimization to add an audience list.
  4. Under "Add to" section, select Campaign or Ad group, depending on which level you want to add your targeting.
  5. Click Select a campaign (or Select an ad group), then choose the campaign or ad group that you want to target.
  6. Under “How they interacted with your business” section, click the “Website visitors” drop down menu.
        Note: You'll see the "All visitors" list and other eligible lists you've created for your different groups of site visitors.
  7. Select the checkboxes next to each remarketing list you want to add. Your audiences will appear in the "Selected audiences" column. 
  8. Click Save.

Confirm your targeting settings

There are two targeting settings available:

(Recommended for Search and Hotel Ads campaigns)

  • You can observe the performance of audience lists, and also use bid adjustments for members of the remarketing lists.
  • It does not restrict the reach of your campaign or ad group.

(Recommended for Video and Display Network campaigns)

  • You'll only show ads to members of the remarketing lists.
  • Targeting restricts the reach of your campaign or ad group.
  • You can still set different bid adjustments for members of the remarketing lists.
Note: Keywords are required for RLSA campaigns except dynamic search ads campaigns, regardless of the targeting settings selected.

Learn more about targeting settings.

Add remarketing lists using copy and paste

To copy your remarketing lists from one campaign or ad group to another:

  1. From the page menu on the left, click Audiences.
  2. Check the boxes next to the remarketing lists you want to copy.
  3. Click the “Edit” drop-down menu, then select Copy.

To paste your copied remarketing lists:

  1. From the page menu on the left, click Campaigns and then filter for all Search campaigns.
  2. To paste lists at the campaign level, stay on the "Campaigns" page. To paste lists to ad groups, click Ad groups from the page menu.
  3. Check the boxes next to the campaigns or ad groups where you want to paste your remarketing lists.
  4. Click the “Edit” drop-down menu and select Paste.
  5. Confirm options and click Paste.
    • "Include bids": Leaving this checked will include the remarketing list bid modifiers when pasting. If an ad group is already using a remarketing list, the pasted bid value will override the existing ad group bid modifier.
    • "Campaign targeting settings" or "Ad group targeting settings": This setting will determine the destination campaigns' or ad groups' targeting settings for remarketing lists. The “Smart default (recommended)” option keeps current targeting settings for your audiences. If an ad group doesn’t have any active audiences, the default setting will be selected:
          “Observation” for Search Network and Shopping campaigns
          “Targeting” for Video and Display Network campaigns
    • You can also choose to manually override the settings to “Observation” or “Targeting.”

Apply remarketing lists to multiple search campaigns/ad groups

To apply remarketing lists across your entire account:

  1. Click the tools icon Google Ads | tools [Icon] in the top right corner of your screen.
  2. Under “Shared library,” click Audience manager.
  3. From the page menu on the left, click Audience lists.
  4. Choose the remarketing list you’d like to add.
  5. Click Add to, then select Campaigns (preferred) or Ad Groups.
  6. Select the checkbox for the campaigns you want to choose or select the top checkbox to choose all campaigns.
  7. Click Next.
  8. Select a targeting setting, then click Add Audiences. The lists will now be added to the selected campaigns. You can now re-adjust bid adjustment or use smart bidding.

If your account has a mix of campaign and ad group level lists, repeat steps 5 to 8 twice, first to add the list to all campaigns at campaign level, next to add the list to all ad groups at ad group level. This will ensure complete coverage.


  • If you add a list to all campaigns, the campaigns/ad groups that already contain the list will be skipped. This will help fill gaps in coverage. 
  • If you add a list at the campaign level, a campaign that has the list at the ad group level will be skipped since there’s a conflict. Similarly, if you add a list at the ad group level, the ad group that falls under a campaign that’s using the list will be skipped.
Tips for setting up remarketing lists for search ads
  • 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.
  • Categorize your visitors by creating more refined lists to tailor your ads and bid for optimized performance.
  • 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.

List types available for Google Search:

  • Visitors of a page
  • Visitors of a page with a specific tag
  • Custom combination (if based on the same list types as shown above)

Optional next steps

  1. Create additional remarketing lists.
  2. Add the remarketing tag across your entire site.
Setting bids, tailoring ads, and copying campaigns
  • 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 campaigns or leverage automated bidding using Smart Bidding as it considers audience list factors when setting auction-time bids.
  • To bid on keywords that you don't normally bid on so you can show your ads to people on your remarketing lists, create a new campaign with these keywords, and use the Targeting setting for your audiences.
  • To show different ads to people on your remarketing list, you can use IF Functions for your ads, which allows you to customize your message for different audiences.


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.

If you’ve applied multiple audiences to a campaign, and a search user is added to more than one audience, the audience with highest bid adjustment receives the impression attribution.

Different list sizes for different networks

List sizes can be significantly different because there are different types of identifiers 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. The "Search" list size is based on people in your list who have searched on Google in the previous 30 days.

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