There are two main methods for creating remarketing audiences in Google Ads based off site visitors. The first is by creating a Google Ads remarketing script. The other method is creating remarketing audiences through a linked Google Analytics account. Audiences can also be generated based on Google Play data, YouTube data and various supported third-party app analytics providers. For the sake of this article, we’ll focus on the Google Ads and Google Analytics site visitor methods.
Both the Google Analytics and Google Ads remarketing implementations allow you to create audience lists based on visitors to a specific page and visitors who converted. You’re also able to create “similar” audiences, which are audiences that Google has determined are similar to your site visitors, but made up of new users who haven’t visited your site yet. The Google Analytics implementation method may be preferred in cases where adding new scripts to your site isn’t possible. A large number of sites typically already have the Google Analytics script on every page, which means audience lists could be created without the need for development work. Both Google Ads and Google Analytics audiences can be used in the same Google Ads account to create audience lists.
Dynamic remarketing allows you to advertise specific products to a customer that they’d previously viewed on the site. It is most widely used for e-commerce sites, but can also be used in other verticals, such as real estate, which allows the ability to show specific home listings to users who previously viewed that home but hadn’t yet filled out a lead form. Both Google Ads and Google Analytics implementations allow for dynamic retargeting. The critical piece from a technical standpoint is that a unique product ID is required for every product, and the product ID must be present in the data layer in order to pass this through the Google Ads remarketing or Google Analytics script. The product ID that’s passed must match the item ID that is in the Merchant Center feed in order for dynamic remarketing to work correctly in Google Ads.
Google Ads – A new Google Ads audience source needs to be created within the Google Ads user interface and the tag that gets generated needs to be added to every page on the site. The preferred method of implementation is through Google Tag Manager, but it can be hard-coded or added through another tag management system. Once it’s on the site, the tag status will be displayed in Google Ads and indicate if there are any errors found.
Google Analytics – The Google Analytics remarketing implementation relies on the Google Analytics tracking script. As long as the Google Analytics tag on the site is the analytics.js version (released in 2013) or the gtag version(released in 2017) no additional configuration changes need to be made to the tracking script on the site. There are two options that must be turned on in the Google Analytics admin panel in order to import audiences into Google Ads. These two settings are “Remarketing” and “Advertising Reporting Features” under the “Data Collection for Advertising Features” section within the “Property” section of the admin panel. The final requirement is that the Google Analytics property must be linked to the Google Ads account.
It’s necessary to plan out exactly which audiences you intend to remarket against in advance in order to determine the best implementation method from a technical standpoint. If dynamic remarketing is a requirement, it is necessary to audit the data layer to see if the product ID is available to pass into the tag. After determining the audiences needed, whether dynamic remarketing will be needed and implementing the necessary remarketing solution, it’s crucial to validate the remarketing data is being populated correctly within the “Audience Sources” section of Google Ads. It typically takes a few days before the data starts flowing in, but you’ll see a warning if there are any errors flagged by Google Ads.