What are Remarketing Lists for Search Ads (RLSA)?

Remarketing lists for search ads (RLSA) is a feature that allows retailers to customize their search ads campaign for people who have previously visited their site, and tailor their bids and ads to these visitors when they’re searching on Google.

When potential customers leave a site, remarketing lists help retailers connect with those shoppers while they continue to search for what they need on Google Shopping.

Retailers set their bids, create ads, or select keywords tailored to those customers that have previously visited their website. 

Currently, RLSAs for Google Shopping are available through open beta only.

If you are interested in how to access the program, email [email protected].

How to Target Cart Abandoners with RLSA

“RLSAs allow greater targeting control & bid adjustments based on URL or tag rules created within the Google remarketing tag,” said Jason Bell, Senior Account Analyst at CPC Strategy.com. jason-bell

“Marketers are probably familiar with these audience lists from their remarketing campaigns or from some of their text ad campaigns that they were already leveraging RLSAs for. Now, this feature is available for Google Shopping as well.”

“You definitely want to get your hands on RLSAs for shopping and test it out. Retargeting Lists for Search Ads are very powerful, especially with cart abandoners. You want to get those people back in the store to order from you.”

RLSAs allows to retailers to “bid only” & “bid and target” shoppers.

Bid Only: This feature allows retailers to add lists or categories to set bids (but still shows ads when other targeting methods match)

Example: If retailers add a bid only for cart abandoners, they still might want to be able to see traffic for new viewers, people who’ve previously visited the site, product viewers, and certain category page viewers. The power of bid only is it allows retailers to adjust bids up or down based on the users of that list.

Bid & Target: Show ads only to people associated with these lists or categories (with the option to bid on them)

Example: If you wanted to create another campaign or an ad group just for cart abandoners you would use a “bid & target” so that you are only focusing and getting data on users who have actually cart abandoned.

Basic strategies for using Remarketing Lists with Search Ads:

  • Retailers can bid on keywords that they don’t normally bid on just for people who have recently visited their site, or have converted on their site in the past. This can help retailers increase sales. For example, a retailer could bid on more generic keywords only for people who have previously purchased from their site.

  • Retailers can also optimize bids for their existing keywords for visitors on your remarketing lists. For example, you can increase your bid by 25% for those who previously viewed their website in the last 30 days. Or, they could show a different ad to site visitors who have placed items in a shopping cart but have not purchased them.

How Remarketing Lists for Search Ads work

To start using remarketing lists for search ads, retailers create a remarketing list and add a snippet of code that you get from AdWords, called a remarketing tag, to your site.

They can add the new remarketing tag to every page in their site. The code tells AdWords to add every site visitor to their list. When people visit the homepage, for example, the cookies associated with their browsers are added to the remarketing list.

Once the remarketing tag is added to the site, they can add the remarketing list to an ad group that has keywords, bids and ads with a message tailored to customers on the remarketing list. These customized ads will show to people who have already been to the site when they later search on Google. These messages won’t be shown to people who aren’t on the list.

Keep in mind: A remarketing list for Google search ads needs to have a minimum number of 1,000 cookies before the list can be used to tailor search ads. This helps protect the privacy of those who make up a retailer’s list.

How to set up remarketing lists for Search Ad campaigns

When retailers visit the “Audiences” section of the Shared library for the first time, they’ll find the “All visitors”. This list will also appear on the Audiences tab, under the main Campaigns tab. Follow these steps to start using remarketing lists in the campaign:

  • Create a new “Search Network only” campaign, or select an existing search campaign and ad group.

  • 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.


  • Click + Remarketing.

  • Click the Add targeting drop-down menu and select Remarketing.

  • Click the Select categories drop-down menu and select Remarketing lists. You’ll find the “All visitors” list and any other rule-based lists you’ve created for your different groups of site visitors. Add the remarketing list to your ad group.



Remarketing Lists for Search Ads (RLSA) Tips to Keep in Mind

  • 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 allows you to better tailor your ads and your bid to optimize 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 (if based on rules about the URLs visited)
  • Visitors of a page with a specific tag
  • Custom combination (if based on the same list types as shown above)

Remarketing Lists for Search Ads (RLSA): Recommended Starting Lists

  • Cart Abandoners
  • Product Viewers
  • Specific Category / LP Viewers
  • Product Type Viewers using (Tags) – Tip: Split up into day buckets (1-5 / 6-10/10-20/ 20-30 for example)

“What I like to do is be more aggressive on somebody who cart abandoned today or yesterday. It’s really fresh in their minds so we want to be aggressive and get our Google Shopping ads in front of them again to hopefully remind them to go back to the site,” Bell said.

Different list sizes for different networks

In the Shared library, retailers will see two remarketing list sizes: one for Google Search and one for the Display Network. These sizes can be significantly different because there are two different types of cookies 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.

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