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Search Remarketing (RLSAs)

Digital Marketing Lessons

Paid Search
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Digital Marketing - Study Notes:

Why use it?

To begin, we’re going to look at RLSA. So why use it? And the reason is we’re able to reach people who visited your website, your app. What’s most important is when they’re searching, we’re able to bid more aggressively for their clicks. Because they’ve been on the site before, we’re able to show them different ads.

There are two methods of RLSA:

  • Observation: You add your audience to your campaign, and that allows you to see, “Okay, these are people who’ve been on my site before. Are they more likely to click and convert?”
  • Optimization: If they are likely to convert, you can then decide to optimize and set a higher bid adjustment, just like we did for devices, just like we did for locations, and just like we did for time of day.

You can set a higher bid adjustment for past visitors because you might want to drive more traffic from your past visitors, because they’ve seen your brand and so on.

Within the interface, it’s very straightforward. It’s under the Audiences tab. It’s always worthwhile adding remarketing for observation, because you don’t actually have to do anything. You can just look, and report, and see what percentage of your website visitors go on to do a search and click to your ads from a search. That type of data is invaluable for understanding the buyer behavior cycle and different things like that.

So you can report on that, and over time, you’re able to optimize on it. As standard, it is important to, whether you’re doing it yourself or working with your agency, to make sure that your remarketing lists are added for observation in your account.

Reasons to use RLSA

Top-of-funnel searches

There are many reasons to use RLSA. You can use it on top-of-funnel searches. These keywords can be expensive if they’re very high volume and they’re very competitively bidded against.

So these keywords, like in an airline, for example, it might be “cheap flights”. Well, it’s not saying a destination. So it’s not as likely to convert as a keyword that says “cheap flights from London to Paris”, which is quite likely to convert if you’re flying from London to Paris.

But “cheap flights” is very much a research-based keyword. So if you want to drive traffic from that particular keyword but you don’t want to pay for everyone in the world who’s looking for that keyword in your market, and you can use remarketing. So you can say, “Well, I only want to bid on that keyword if that person has been on my site before.”

That’s a very clever way of reducing the search pool from, say, 100,000 searches down to maybe 2,000 searches. You can still serve that keyword but only to your most valuable customers.

Specific copy

Another reason to use it is you can give the specific copy.

You might want to serve a search ad to that customer who’s been in your site before and give him a special offer – a 5% discount or something like that. Using past visitor-related copy in your RLSA campaigns is a very strong way of engaging in the intent phase, which is search with past visitors.

How to create RLSA campaigns

The steps to creating a remarketing list for RLSA campaigns are straightforward.

Creating the audience

You set up your remarketing in the shared library, and that’s found in the main menu at the top. You set up the remarketing in there, and then you’re presented with a piece of code. This is your audience code. You put that piece of code, or get your webmaster, or your agency, or whoever manages your website, to put that on every page of your website. And now you’re tracking cookies. Once the cookies are actually being tracked, you have to build the audiences from those cookies.

So you click on the Audiences tab on the shared library, and you can create an audience from there by saying, “We only want people who visited the homepage, or a particular page.” These audiences will then all be stored in your shared library, and it can be applied to your accounts and to your campaigns after that. This is an important consideration for anyone who does manager accounts or child accounts.

Remarketing list can be set up at a manager level, and those remarketing lists can be given to any of the accounts in that manager account, or they can be specific to the child account. So depending on what you want to do, you can already do it on a manager level or on a child account level.

It is a consideration because you may not, if you have it on the manager level for multiple clients, you can’t share one client’s remarketing list with another client. That would be a data protection breach, and it’s just not best practice. It will get you into a lot of trouble. So considerations around if you are managing on a manager level, and for multiple clients, that you can’t share across the clients.

Applying the audience

Once the audience is created, it is easy to apply it.

We click on the Audiences tab on the left-hand side, and we add the audience to the campaign by pressing the Create your audience button. That will give us the audiences available to us, including predefined Google audiences and in-market audience. We can, from that dropdown, select our remarketing lists and then simply add that to the campaign and have it in there for observation. Over time, you can see if it’s good or not and then decide whether to make a bid adjustment.

This is an example of the type of ads you might show a returning visitor. So as you can see, 5% off everything for returning customers. So that ad won’t be shown to everyone. It’s only shown to people who have been in your site before. So it’s a clever way of reengaging your most valuable audience and trying to incur with repeat business.

A tip would be to add a negative audience to prevent your ad being shown to searchers on a certain list. So if you want to only show ads to people who have not converted before, you could add all of your converters as a negative list to your audiences. And if that happens, it means that only people who haven’t bought before can see that ad. So again, this goes into your thinking around the type of structure you want for your search account.

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Cathal Melinn

Digital Marketing Manager @ Digital Marketing Institute

  • 13 years’ experience in search and display
  • Worked at Yahoo! Search in 2005 as a Senior Search Strategist for the UK Financial Services vertical
  • Moved to the world of agency in 2010 as Head of Search and Online Media for five years 
  • Currently working at the Digital Marketing Institute as a Digital Marketing Manager
  • Previous clients include Apple, Vodafone, Expedia, Virgin, Universal Music Group, Amazon, Compare the Market, and HSBC
Cathal Melinn

Data protection regulations affect almost all aspects of digital marketing. Therefore, DMI has produced a short course on GDPR for all of our students. If you wish to learn more about GDPR, you can do so here:

DMI Short Course: GDPR

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ABOUT THIS DIGITAL MARKETING MODULE

Paid Search
Cathal Melinn Cathal Melinn
Skills Expert

This module begins with the key concepts of paid search and demonstrates how to set up a Google Ads account and create a paid search campaign. It explains how to manage a paid search campaign budget effectively and outlines the different methods that can be used to optimize your paid search campaign. It also covers how to measure and report on the success of a paid search campaign.

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