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.


The new Google Ads experience is now the exclusive way for most users to manage their accounts. Note, automatic targeting is only available in the new Google Ads experience.

After you've tagged your site for remarketing, visit the "Audiences" section of the "Shared library". You'll find the "All visitors" list that was automatically created when you added your tag. Once you add this list to your campaigns, it will also appear on the "Audiences" tab, under the main "Campaigns" tab. 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 or ad group.
  2. Click the Audiences tab, next to the Keywords 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.
    Audiences tab
  3. Click + Targeting.
  4. Under "Add to" select Campaign or Ad group, depending on which level you want to add your targeting.
  5. Click the "Add campaign targeting"or "Add ad group" targeting drop-down menu, then select Interests & remarketing.
  6. Click the "Select categories" drop-down menu and select Remarketing lists. You'll find the "All visitors" list and any other eligible lists you've created for your different groups of site visitors.
  7. Click the double arrows » next to each remarketing list you want to add. Your audiences will appear in the "Selected audiences" column.

Confirm your targeting settings

There are two targeting settings available:

"Bid only" (Most common for Search campaigns)

  • Your ads will continue to show to people on your remarketing list and to people not on your remarketing list.
  • You'll be able to set different bids for members of the remarketing lists.

“Target and bid”

  • You'll only show ads to members of the remarketing lists.
  • Your ads won't show to people outside of the remarketing lists, even if they match your other targeting.
  • You can still set different bids for members of the remarketing lists.

Add remarketing lists using copy and paste

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

  1. From the "Audiences" tab, check the boxes next to the remarketing lists you want to copy.
  2. Click the "Edit" drop-down menu and select Copy.

To paste your copied remarketing lists:

  1. Click the Campaigns tab and filter for all Search campaigns.
  2. To paste lists at campaign level, remain on the "Campaigns" tab. To paste lists to ad groups, click the "Ad groups" tab.
  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 targeting a remarketing list, the pasted bid value will over ride 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 “Default” option keeps current ad group targeting settings for your audiences. If an ad group doesn’t have any active audiences, the default setting will be selected:
      • “Bid only” for Search Network and Shopping campaigns. 
      • “Target and bid” for video and Display Network campaigns.
    • You can also choose to manually override the settings to “Bid only” or “Target and bid."


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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