Remarketing: Those Ads That Follow You Around The Web

Remarketing: Those Ads That Follow You Around The Web

We’re all used to seeing ads online, but do you ever feel like a particular ad is chasing you? You visit a site, and then it seems everywhere you go online, you’re seeing ads for that site.

Well you are, and it’s because the site owner is using an extremely effective and inexpensive marketing technique called ‘remarketing’.

How Remarketing Works

When you visit a website for a business that uses remarketing, the site will drop a ‘cookie’ (small piece of code) into your browser. As you travel around the web, that code is matched with available ads, and chooses an ad to display based on your recent browsing history.

The browser cookie is usually set to expire after the ads have shown a few times.

How Remarketing Can Work For You

When you set up your remarketing campaign, you will define specific criteria for your target audience to meet, such as visiting a specific page, or a group of pages. When a visitor to your site meets this criteria, the cookie gets dropped into their browser. When this happens, they become members of your remarketing lists (you can have many lists), and your ad will appear for them when they visit other websites that display ads.

The best part is, you only pay if your ad is clicked. If they don’t click on your ad, you don’t pay. The cost for a click is generally quite low, but can vary depending on many factors.

Why Remarketing Works

Remarketing is very effective because 97% of buyers need multiple visits to a website before making a purchase or enquiry. This means only 3% of new visitors become customers on their first visit. Getting even a small percentage of the remaining 97% to return and complete a sale can give any business a nice sales lift. Remarketing offers the ideal strategy to do just that.

Reminds People to Come Back to Your Website – A 2nd Chance

Let’s face it. The internet is full of distractions. A visitor to your site may be very interested in what you offer, but after they leave, they may not remember how they found you in the first place. Without the strong brand recognition strategies larger companies have, small businesses can be easily forgotten. Remarketing reminds them of their visit to your site, and why they may want to return.

Still not convinced? Let’s look at how remarketing worked for one of my customers:

This company’s remarketing list criteria was that anyone who visits four or more pages on their site would be eligible to see their ads. When a visitor views at least four pages, they are expressing a significant interest in your business.

Before they began remarketing, about 2.5% of visitors were making sales enquiries. When we added remarketing, their sales enquiries jumped to 3% of visitors, which my customer estimated was an additional $2k sales per month.

Requirements for Remarketing

Setting up your remarketing strategy requires a few steps:

  1. You will need a Google AdWords account and Google Analytics loaded on your website.
  2. Ensure your AdWords and Analytics accounts are linked together so audience information can be transferred from Analytics to AdWords.
  3. Define your criteria for each remarketing list (viewed specific pages or set pages, viewed a certain number of pages, etc.). You can do this in Google Analytics.
  4. Set up a remarketing campaign in Google AdWords.
  5. Have website traffic of at least 100 users over a 30 day period for Google to show your ads.
  6. Create visual ads with a compelling message.
  7. Send those who click on the ads to a compelling landing page, preferably not one they saw when they previously visited your website.

Don’t be a stalker

Remarketing ads can be set so they only display a certain number of times to an individual. Use this feature. If a person hasn’t click on your ad after seeing it five times in a week, it’s unlikely they will change their mind on the sixth time. Stop showing them your ad, or you will be remembered negatively, as a stalker.

Get your remarketing started

The first step is to define your audience, or the criteria for people to see your ads. Google Analytics makes it easy to set up your audience. Go to:

Admin > Property > Audience Definitions > Audiences

Remarketing on Facebook

If you have a Facebook Business page, you can create a remarketing campaign where your ads appear in people’s Facebook feeds after they have visited your website and met your audience criteria.

There are a few Bird’s Eye customers experiencing great success with Facebook remarketing. It’s an effective way to approach previous site visitors. The difference between this and Google is you need to define your audience using Facebook’s powerful Pixel.

The Clicks Google Analytics Does Not Report

Google Analytics does not report all clicks… unless you “tell it to”.  Google Analytics is built to track website page changes, meaning when a visitor goes from one page on your site to another.

But what happens when a visitor watches a video, or downloads a PDF, or even fills out some forms? The page doesn’t change; therefore Google Analytics doesn’t see it. And what Google Analytics doesn’t see, you don’t see in your data reports.


In order to take the blinders off, you need to ‘tell’ Google Analytics what click data to see, and what to do with these non page changing clicks.

Any click on a website that doesn’t change the page is called an Event in Google Analytics.  Events ‘tell’ Google Analytics what to do with click data when the page does not change.

To properly track an event, Google Analytics needs to know two things:

  • Category:Broad grouping of what happened, such as opened a link, downloaded a PDF, watched a video, etc.
  • Action: What/where it happened

A third option in configuring an event is a Label, which allows you to provide more detailed information about a specific event.

Table 1 below provides a summary and examples:

Table 1 – Events







Definition Broad grouping of interactive objectives Describe the type of interaction. Identifies something specific about the action
Example Videos Play/ pause Video ID
File Downloads File Type File Name
Contact Form/email/phone blank
Events don’t come naturally to Google Analytics, so they have to be planned or configured so the clicks are tracked.  First, we need to determine what website items to track. It can be, video, contact form, phone number, email address, etc. Each of these items needs to be ‘tagged’ with a category and action that get sent to Google Analytics.

There are two ways you can collect and send event data to Google Analytics:

The Hard (Manual) Way

You could hire a programmer to manually tag your buttons, outbound links, file downloads, videos, etc. But that’s really expensive and inefficient. Besides, if you add another button, outbound link, etc. to your website, you have to rehire the programmer to tag the new asset.

The Easy (Automated) Way:

One of the most efficient ways to tag your events is with Google Tag Manager, a free tool that captures and transfers click data to Google Analytics.

Google Tag Manager is your Website’s Event Planner

Google presents Tag Manager as an “easy to use” product. Please note, although the product has come a long way since its launch almost five years ago, it works best if you have a working knowledge of html and java script.

Next Steps Toward Your Event Planning

Now that you understand what website events are and why you need to track them, let’s take a look at what kind of events might be happening on your website that are not being tracked.  Make a list and consider if Google Tag Manager will help you:

How to Use AdWords Ad Preview Tool

How to Use AdWords Ad Preview Tool

Without Wrecking Your CTR…..

Every time you look at your ads in a Google search you risk damaging your own Google AdWords click through rate (CTR) performance.  CTR is an important ad ranking criteria and a high CTR can your ad a rankings edge.  The previous post, Stop Damaging your AdWords CTR describes why CTR is important and how searching your own ads damages yours.

Here’s how you can see your ad without harming your CTR.

Navigate to the Ad Preview and Diagnosis Tool

To preview your ad you have to get to the Ad Preview and Diagnosis Tool.  There are two ways to get to there:

  1. Tools menu (in the top navigation) Or,
  2. Bubble in the keyword status

Here are the instructions for using both methods:

Tools Menu in the Top Navigation

From any AdWords screens go to the top navigation and click “Tools”.  From the drop down menu select “Ad Preview and Diagnosis”

Google AdWords Tools Menu to Reach Ad Preview

Bubble In the Keyword Status

This is convenient when you are already in the Keyword or Ads tab.

Choose the campaign you want. This takes you to the Ad Group screen where you will select the Ad Group you are investigating. Make sure you are on the Keywords tab.

Google AdWords Keyword Status Bubble

Find the “Status” column and hover your mouse over the “speech” bubble for any of the keywords.  The bubble opens up and shows your ad status.  At the very bottom of the bubble, click “Ad Preview & Diagnosis”.

AdWords Keyword Bubble to get you to Ad Preview

Using the Ad Preview and Diagnosis Tool

Once inside the Ad Preview and Diagnosis Tool you will need to do three things to preview your ad:

  1. Insert your target location – Enter the specific location you want to check; a country, state / province, city, etc.
  2. Insert your target keyword you want to be found for. Alternatively, if you came from the keyword tab, your term may already be entered.
  3. Click the blue preview button

Google AdWords Ad Preview Screen - Insert location, and keyword

If your ad is showing it will appear exactly how it looks in a search results page.  If your ad has the top ranking it will be first, if it’s ranked second, it will be second and so on.

Google AdWords Ad Preview when your ad is showing on Google Search Results

If your ad is not showing the screen will have a message that it is currently not showing.  Your ad not showing could be a function of the keyword, the location, etc.  There are links provided how to investigate.

Sample screen of Google AdWords Ad Preview and Diagnosis Tool when ad is not showing in search.

Ad Preview Tool Does Not Wreck Your CTR

By using the Ad Preview tool you see exactly how your advertisement looks without having impacting your ad ranking and click through rate.  Let your competitor do keyword searches to see their own ads and drive down their CTR it helps you rank better.

Stop Damaging Your Own AdWords CTR?

Stop Damaging Your Own AdWords CTR?

We pay big bucks to advertise so naturally we want verification the ads are running as expected. For offline ads we pick up the newspaper to see our ad, or listen closely for our ad to play on the radio.

Boy (3-5) looking at cookie jar on kitchen counterThe Online Temptation

With online advertising it is tempting to verify our ads by doing Google searches.  If our ad appears we have the needed verification. Peaking at our own ads with a Google search can skew data and damage AdWords performance.  Here’s why:

Searching Your Ad On Google Is a Big NO NO!

Unlike offline advertising, online advertising there are statistics for everything, including how many times your ad is viewed.  When your ad is viewed it’s called an impression and an impression gets recorded every time your ad is seen, including seen by you.

Click through rate (CTR) is an important metric uses impressions and the number of times an ad is clicked.  The mathematical CTR formula is: Clicks / Impressions, expressed as a percentage.

Here’s an example; 100 people saw your ad and 20 clicked on it you would have a CTR of 20%.  If 30 people clicked on the ad, the CTR would be 30%.

How Click Through Rate (CTR) Impacts Your Ad Rank

Remember, Google only gets paid when ads are clicked, that’s why CTR is an important ad ranking criteria for them.  Google compares your CTR history against competitive advertisers to determine which ads appear at the top or bottom of their pages.  Ads with higher CTRs have a better chance of getting higher ranks and better positons.

Impressions Without Clicks Reduce CTR

When we go looking for our own ads, we have no intention of clicking on them that would cost money.  Our intent is to verify the ad is showing and perhaps how it is ranked.  Every time we seek out our own ad we trigger an impression without a click and that reduces our CTR.  Every time your ad gets an impression without a click, it negatively impacts your CTR.  Here’s an example; let’s suppose during a month your ad had 100 impressions and 20 clicks.  Your CTR is 20%.  However, during the month you peaked at your Google ten times so your CTR could have been 22% (20 clicks divided by 90 impressions) instead of 20%.

I know that 20% versus 22% doesn’t seem like that big a deal, but if your competitors are not searching their own ads, their CTR’s will be lower than yours… so you go down a couple of notches in Google’s ad rank.

Use the Simulator to Check Your Ad

Instead of searching out your ad on a live Google search and negatively impacting your CTR you can see your ad in the AdWords Preview Tool without triggering an impression.  Just follow the instructions on the next post “How to See Your Ads in Google”.

The Value of Linking Your Google AdWords and Google Analytics

The Value of Linking Your Google AdWords and Google Analytics

Google AdWords and Google Analytics work better when they are linked.A friend of mine Dean owns a small company. Whenever Dean invites me over for food and drinks, I notice his Google Analytics account is conveniently open and he’s logged in. I know he wants to pick my brain.

During a recent, visit Dean told me he was frustrated by his poor Google AdWords performance; he said they weren’t getting him any leads, not even email newsletter sign ups, and he asked me to have a look.

It seemed odd to me considering he was spending a lot of money on AdWords.

When I looked closer, I saw that there wasn’t any AdWords data in his Google Analytics account.

When we opened his Google AdWords account, we saw much more encouraging data: more than a dozen sales leads and a few email sign ups. AdWords was performing!

What Dean wasn’t doing — a mistake many businesses make — was linking his AdWords account to his Google Analytics account, to leverage the power of both.

Linking your Google AdWords and Google Analytics accounts allows the two products to work in tandem and exchange valuable data. And that helps you make better business and marketing decisions:

The Good Things That Happen when You Link Your Google AdWords and Google Analytics Accounts

Everything Works Towards the Same Goals

When you link your Google AdWords and Google Analytics accounts, you can automatically import your Google Analytics goals into AdWords. That means your ads are now required to meet the same conversion standards as other traffic sources like SEO, referral, and even other advertisers.

And you’ll be able to see how all your online lead generating activities are performing in one single report.

This screenshot from Google Analytics shows how you can compare AdWords and all other traffic sources in a single screen:

Traffic Source Comparison



This report helped me see that one of my customers was generating more revenue with Google AdWords advertising than all other advertising sources combined. They made thousands more in revenue by redirecting money from under performing advertisers to AdWords.

This post is an excerpt from a previous Linked In Pulse article.