By: Brian Henning

Director of Marketing

June 09, 2016

Remarketing: How-To

You may have read our previous post introducing the practice of remarketing via digital channels. I’m here to provide a brief walkthrough on how to implement a campaign of this nature along with touch on some of the benefits of doing so.

Remarketing, or sometimes referred to as Retargeting, is the practice of serving digital ads to consumers who have visited your site, used your mobile app, or provided their email address. We’ll discuss the first example, and leave the others for another blog post, they are a bit more complex.


Sounds easy, right?

The practice of remarketing is very straightforward despite the confusion surrounding it. Someone visits your site - you then serve ads to them while they browse the web. These ads can be served on sites relating to weather, sports, news, etc.

The first thing you’ll need to be able to carry out a remarketing campaign are visitors to your site, which is stating the obvious I know. A majority of sites receive enough traffic to meet the minimum threshold, but in certain cases, low usage sites may need to wait until they build up a large enough pool of visitors to begin to then retarget those individuals. The reason for this mainly relates to privacy concerns from publishers. If you’re wondering how you’ll know if you qualify for remarketing, let’s start from the beginning.

To get started, the most common method to remarket to site visitors is to choose an ad network who can serve your ads on various publisher sites based on available inventory. Google, unsurprisingly has one of the most extensive networks out there, so we’ll focus on their platform as an example for this walkthrough. First, you’ll need to create an account - in this case an Adwords account if you don’t have one already. If you have a Google account (for things like Gmail, or Google Calendar), then you can use that account for your Adwords campaigns.

Get your ad on Google Today

You can’t actually click that button to get started - it was a trick

While we utilize Google for managing the campaign, the ads are actually served on thousands of various publisher sites in what is referred to as the Google Display Network. Now that you have an Adwords account, you can create a campaign. Advertising platforms like this offer a variety of campaign types based on your goals. For remarketing purposes, you want to choose the ‘Display Network Only’ option when using Adwords…

Display Network Only

run through various settings in regards to where you want to serve your ads geographically. You’ll set which language to use, set a daily budget, and so on. During this setup process, you’ll finally arrive at a place where you’ll choose ‘set up remarketing’ - the reason you need to do this is that display campaigns can be tailored and used in a variety of ways to meet your goals. The most common use of these campaigns is to build awareness and serve your ads to the masses, but in this case, we only want to serve ads to people who have visited your site. So, make sure you click this little button (it’s hard to miss)…

Set up remarketing

Next, you’ll need to tag your site. Huh? Trust me, it’s fairly simple. And, if it’s not simple for you, it’s simple for the person who works on your site! Follow Google’s instructions to add the remarketing snippet (aka code/tag/script) to your site. Google even gives you the ability to email the instructions straight to your webmaster and avoid losing something in translation. As it stands now, Google wants you to add the snippet right before the tag...


The reason you need to “tag” your site, is so Google can run that script when a page is loaded, which enables them to add your website visitors to your remarketing lists. Said another way, every time someone visits your site, this ‘tag’ will dump them into a remarketing list, so when they leave your site and visit one of Google’s partner sites, they’ll know that your ad will be a great fit for them.
Once you’ve ‘tagged’ your site, the next step is to tell Google how much you’re willing to pay for a click on your ads. Display advertising is very inexpensive relatively speaking. Most of the time you can choose bids below $0.50, but this can range widely based on ROI goals and many other factors. Next, Google will ask how you want to target your ads - well this seems obvious since the whole point of this campaign is to only target individuals who have visited your site. Nothing has changed, but we just need to check off that box anyway…

Choose how to target your ads

you’ve finished setup, you’ll need to create or upload display ads to your campaign. If you don’t have a professional designer who can put together these banners for you, Google has a nice tool that will scan your site and create ads based on your sites content - but professionally designed, custom banners go a long way. Google will let you know which ad sizes are accepted…

supported ad specs

Once your ads are approved, you’re up and running. There are more advanced techniques, such as creating similar audiences, importing email lists, list segmentation, search ads for remarketing, dynamic ads and so on, but we’ll stick with the basics.

Some consumers love these types of ads as they’re very relevant, timely, and if done right, are aesthetically pleasing. It brings awareness to your brand and provides a gentle nudge to that visitor who may have looked at your site, but didn’t convert, or forgot the name of your business and ended up buying from a competitor. Others are skeptical of these ads and wonder how a business “follows” them around online, but trust me, there’s nothing personally identifiable about being placed on a remarketing list. Lastly, there are others who rarely even think about it, but end of clicking on remarketing ads because it served a need at the right time.

That is a very high-level look at running a remarketing campaign, but it’s important to know what is possible with digital ads and how they work for both consumers and advertisers. If you’d like to reach your customers in this way, let us know and we’d be happy to help.