7 Google Display Remarketing Best Practices

By Tinuiti Team

We’ve written before about general ecommerce remarketing strategies and how they can boost your brand.

But now, we’re going to focus on one particular channel: Google.

Google’s remarketing feature allows retailers to show ads to people who have previously visited their website or used their mobile app.

Dynamic remarketing takes this a step further by allowing retailers to show previous visitors ads that contain products and services they viewed on their site.

With messages tailored to your audience, dynamic remarketing is helpful to retailers who want to build leads and sales by bringing previous visitors back to their site to complete what they started. Google Dynamic Remarketing efforts are available through the Google Display Network.

Dynamic Remarketing vs. Traditional Remarketing

Traditional remarketing allows merchants to display ads to shoppers who have visited their site. However, these ads are often limited to ad content. Instead of remarketing using product specific ads (e.g for purses), sellers are only able to remarket for their website.

So instead of saying, “Hey remember this sundress?” marketers were limited by displaying ads which are site-targeted only.

Dynamic Remarketing changed all of that by allowing retailers to remarket product-specific ads.

According to Josh Brisco, Manager of Retail Search Operations at CPC Strategy, categories such as apparel perform well with Google Dynamic Remarketing due to the fact most of those products are very visual.

“Retailers should be leveraging remarketing efforts to reach out to their audience. Even if someone made a purchase 2 years ago – it indicates an interest in your brand, which means they are likely to be more targeted and further down the purchasing funnel in comparison to a raw prospect,” he said.

Although Google Dynamic Retargeting isn’t necessarily new, we will take a closer look at two specific tools in the program many retailers may not be aware or using to their full potential including Customer Match and Remarketing Audiences.

To get you started, here are five insider tips for your next Google Dynamic Remarketing campaign.

1. Modify Google Retargeting Member Duration

AKA–how long Google retargets to someone. 

Google Display

Google Retargeting Member Duration is Google-speak for how long a Google cookie tracks a user while he or she searches, or how long you set your Google retargeting campaign to display ads for that user (or user list).

Google Dynamic Retargeting Member Duration can be set up to 180 days following a user’s initial visit (any longer than that and Google automatically removes the cookie).


Free Download: The Google Shopping Guide


What’s The Best Member Duration?

However, you probably want to set a much shorter time period, most likely around 30 days or the length of your sales cycle. Like everything with Google, you should test ad duration, and set length based on the user list you are using. If you are retargeting before Christmas to remind people to purchase gifts on your site, you don’t want that ad appearing in February.

Before you set your membership duration, think about the visitor list you are segmenting for. Once you’ve set your duration after the list has already been running for some time (its collecting cookies), its going to only affect the cookies added following those initial visits. So if you set your ad duration for 180 days, and 20 user cookies are collected, THEN you change your duration to 30 days, the 30-day duration is only going to apply to visitors after that initial 20. You can change membership duration for your Google Retargeting campaign in AdWords under Shared Library> Audiences> Membership Duration:

Google Retargeting: How long ads show

Remember that if you have Product Listing Ads, and or AdWords Ads set up in your account, this is going to look a little different in AdWords, as in the example below:

Google Dynamic Remarketing: PLA in AdWords with retargeting example

2. Change Google Dynamic Retargeting Ads Frequency Capping Times

How often visitors see ads over a given time period.

Google Dynamic Retargeting Ads Frequency is Google-speak for how many times Google will display your ads to visitors who have seen your site over a certain time.  Just like AdWords ads frequency capping, frequency is the “average number of times a unique user sees your ad over a given time period.” If I visit your site, my list duration may be 30 days, but how frequently I see your (impressions NOT clicks) ads every day (week, month) is going to depend on the frequency cap you’ve set on your Google Retargeting ads. Imagine Google is a over-eater, and you’re helping him on his diet. Google is just going to keep eating (showing your ads) unless you tell it how many meals it’s allowed to have each day (set an ad frequency cap).

What’s The Best Frequency Cap Time?

How many ads you should show to users who’ve visited your site is going to be different based on your site. What you sell and who shops for your items is going to affect how long they are going to be receptive to ads, and how effective those ads will be over time. Roll up your sleeves and get really friendly with Google Analytics to get a better idea of how many ads you should be showing daily.

3. Include Images In Your Google Dynamic Retargeting Ads

The Google Display network is huge. Although Product Listing Ads (PLAs) and Dynamic Retargeting Ads are new members of the display family, display ads convert better and have a better ROI than text ads historically. You can retarget with text ads only, but you’re going to see better conversion rates if you use image display ads. What’s great about Google Dynamic Retargeting is that you can use the display ad builder to create retargeting ads using images you already have in your data feed:

Google Dynamic Remarketing, images

According to Google, Bedder Way Murphy Beds increased conversion rates on display ads by 50% with image ads.

4. Bid Less On Retargeting Ads For Visitors Who Didn’t View Products

Retargeting is a good way to advertise since you are able to segment visitors who have visited your site.

Visitors who have been to your site are more likely to be interested in your items than shoppers who’ve never been on your site. If you sell cat toys, and I visited your site I presumably like cats, and am interested in cat products, as opposed to my neighbor Mike, who has never been to your site and dislikes animals in general.

I’m probably a better investment for ads and have a higher likelihood of buying from you. Within retargeting, this same breakdown applies to all visitors and site visitors who have visited specific product pages.

Here is a breakdown of what this looks like:

Google Display, Google Dynamic Remarketing bids

If I visit your site I’m more likely to buy than Mike who hasn’t been to your site. But I’m much less likely to purchase something than another user who has viewed a specific product or category page, who in turn is less likely to purchase something than someone who added an item to a cart and then left your site.

You need to moderate Ad spend for each of these groups of visitors:


You should still retarget to me (I visited your site after all), but you might want to spend less on retargeting ads, (bid less, have a lower daily budget) than you might for Suzan (who viewed your product), or another visitor who added something to their cart, and someone who already purchased something.

Here is an overview of how an online retailer segmented ads for specific user groups using Google Dynamic Retargeting ads:



5. Adjust Retargeting Bids For Visitor Attributes

Just as it’s prudent to bid less and spend less on shoppers who are less far down the conversion funnel, it’s also a good idea to tailor retargeting ads based on other user variables, such as gender, age, etc.

You can add these user variables in AdWords under Display Network> Gender, Age:

Google Dynamic Remarketing, user age group

With Google Dynamic Display Ads, you can choose which websites you want your ads to be displayed on, and Google will choose which products are relevant based on the information in your data feed.

Here is a quick overview of how Google Dynamic Display Ads work:



While Google Dynamic Display ads can save you some time, it’s important that your Google data feed is as accurate and as detailed as possible. Not only do you want your product information to be correct, but you may also want to add additional labels in your feed to target different variables of visitor groups.

6. Use Customer Match to Target Ads to Your Email List


We’ve had the opportunity to test Google’s Customer Match feature on many of our clients and have seen favorable results.

With Customer Match, advertisers can target ads against customer-owned data through Google AdWords. It allows advertisers to upload their customer and promotional email address lists into AdWords. From these email lists, retailers can build campaigns and ads specifically designed to reach their audience.

According to Google, 70% of online consumers agree that the quality, timing, and relevance of a brand’s message influences their perception of a brand.

Now, Google can help retailers reach customers that they already have a relationship with — like those in their loyalty program or those who have made a previous purchase — in ways that are most relevant to their intent and context.

Although Google Customer Match is designed to help retailers reach their “highest-value customers” by strengthening connections with their known customer base on Google Search, it also helps retailers forge new relationships across other channels including YouTube Trueview & Gmail Native Ads.

With Google Customer Match, retailers can:


According to Brisco, Customer Match allows retailers to get around some of the limitations that accompany most remarketing efforts.

Because most retargeting efforts are based on cookies – which customers can block or easily avoid since they are not typically optimized for mobile – Customer Match uses email addresses and user- sign ins -which are considered more reliable across all devices.

“If you’re not signed into Google, data can get lost across devices. Customer match should do a better job of bridging that data across different devices and you can track emails for the past 90 days,” Brisco said.

What You Should Know About Google Customer Match:

Upload Email Addresses – Google Customer Match allows advertisers to upload a list of email addresses in AdWords under the ‘Audiences’ tab. Google currently requires the customer email lists to have a minimum of 1000 email addresses.

Verify Emails with Google – For each list uploaded, Google will match the email addresses with users’ primary Google account email address.

Generate Similar Audiences – Corresponding Google accounts are generated into an audience list, which is ready for targeting like any other remarketing list. Retailers can generate similar audience lists to reach new customers on YouTube and Gmail who are likely to be interested in their products and services.

Hashed Emails – It is not required that advertisers use hashed emails. All email addresses – hashed or otherwise – will be uploaded via SSL. Emails that do not match to Google account email addresses, as well as duplicates, are ignored, and the file is deleted after matching and compliance checks.

For more on Customer Match requirements and setup check out our recent post, Google Customer Match Allows Retailers to Target Consumer Emails.

7. Use Remarketing Audiences to Reach Consumers Without Tagging

Retailers can also use “audiences” (previously called remarketing lists) within Google Analytics to reach their consumers on Google Search Ads, with no tagging required. Now retailers and marketers can leverage more than 200 dimensions and metrics within Google Analytics to create and activate their audiences for remarketing.

They can also use those audiences to re-engage shoppers with a “consistent message across both Google Search and Display”.

For example: Previously, if a shopper named Sara visited a brand page and another shopper named Michael also visited the brand page – both shoppers were placed into a single group and targeted exactly the same way.

Thanks to Google’s updates – retailers can see that Sara spend 30 seconds on the brand’s page while Michael spends 5 minutes on the website.

Marketers can segment “time spent on page” and invest more into retargeting Michael since they know she spent a longer amount of time browsing the site and is more likely to convert.

Although Analytics Lists are not new, many marketers are not leveraging this data to influence their strategy.

According to Brisco, this data can help retailers track things like:

Below are two screenshots of how a retailer might use the Audience builder feature to segment “behavior” and “conditions” to filter data.

google retargeting


According to Google, when a user’s activity on your site or app meets criteria you’ve specified for an audience, the cookie or ad ID associated with that activity is added to the appropriate Remarketing Audience (unless it has been already been added).

Any of these users who later visit a site on the Google Display Network or use Google Search may be shown one of your remarketing ads (depending on whether you win the ad auction).

Retailers should keep in mind there are some limitations including:


Free Download: The Google Shopping Guide

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