Digital Marketing Google Ads

Google Ads Remarketing Campaign Structure

The key to setup a performing ROI based display remarketing campaign is to properly define and segment your audiences and ad groups.

Remarketing Theory

  1. The deeper a user is in your sales funnel, the more likely he is to buy. A shopping cart abandoner is more likely to buy than a product browser who is more likely to buy than someone who briefly visited your homepage.
  2. The more recent the user’s visit, the more likely he is to buy. A user who visited your site yesterday is more likely to buy than a user who visited your site 10 days ago.
  3. The more likely a user is to buy, the more you want to bid on that user.


Please read the post Essential Google Ads Remarketing Audiences and follow the instructions to create your remarketing audiences.

Campaign Setup

Create one campaign per major market you are targeting, and give them a descriptive name:

  • USA: Display Remarketing
  • Canada: Display Remarketing

Generally, but not always, you will want a separate campaign for every unique currency and language you are targeting.

Core Ad Groups

Creating only these two ad groups will generate 90% of your display remarketing conversions . I highly recommend you start with only these two. Only add more groups (described later) if the extra 10% in remarketing sales will justify the extra administrative complexity.

1. Cart Abandoners

This ad group will target cart abandoners: Visitors who added a product to their cart but never purchased. Dynamic Product ads perform particularly well with cart abandonment, as your visitors are shown the exact products that they added to their cart.

  • Cart Abandoners – 1 day
  • Cart Abandoners – 4 day

2. Product Viewers

This ad group will target users who visited a product details page but who never added a product to their cart.

  • Product Viewers – 7 day
  • Product Viewers – 28 day

Optional Ad Groups

Here are additional remarketing ad groups and audiences. In my experience, most conversions come from the two core ad groups identified above (Cart Abandoners and Product Viewers) but you may have a different experience depending on your business.

Just Purchased

This will show ads to people who have just purchased. This is a good place to possibly push micro conversions such as joining a loyalty program, joining a community, etc… Or perhaps up-selling them another related product?

  • Purchase 7 days

Past Customers

This is similar to the “Just Purchased” ad group, but with a longer time window. This will show ads to people that have previously purchased a product 30 or more days ago. This is a good place to advertise new product launches or promotions.

  • Purchase 30 days
  • Purchase 90 days
  • Purchase 360 days

Never Purchased

This is the opposite of the “Past Customers” group. These are people who visited your site in the past year, but have never purchased. This is also a good place to advertise new product launches or promotions.

  • Site Visitors 30 days
  • Site Visitors 90 days
  • Site Visitors 360 days
Exclude Audience
  • Purchase 360 days

New Customers, Brand Unaware

This isn’t really remarketing, but simple display advertising: These are people who have never visited your site. Your remarketing audiences are EXCLUDED so that you are only targeting people who are unaware of your product or brand. You are arguably willing to pay more for each customer as they are new customers, but this will be your worst performing segment. You can waste a lot of money here, so be careful.

  • Combination of keyword, interest, topic, and placement targeting relevant to your product and brand.
Exclude Audience:
  • Site Visitors 360 days

Other Tips

Exclude “low quality” visitors

You will have to create these audience groups within Google Analytics, and then exclude them from all your remarketing campaigns:

  • Exclude people who have bounced
  • Exclude people who have spent less than ten seconds on the site

Exclude Mobile App Placements

Exclude placements where users are unlikely to interact with your ad, or where they may accidentally click your ad, such as in mobile apps and games.

To exclude mobile apps, go to your ad group and then select:

  • Placements > Exclusions tab > Exclude placements
  • App Categories > Expand All App Categories, and exclude all app categories individually
  • Repeat for all your display ad groups

Exclude YouTube Placements

YouTube tracks View Through Conversions as if they were Click Through Conversions. This leads to attribution poaching, and makes your display campaigns appear to perform much better than they actually do. This ultimately causes you to increase bids and budgets, and overspend.

To exclude YouTube placements, go to: Campaign Settings > Additional Settings > Content Exclusions and select all of the following for exclusion:

  • Live streaming YouTube video
  • Embedded video
  • In-video

Frequency Capping

Most resources online will tell you to limit your frequency cap to about 20 times per user per month, but I suspect this is wrong. That means a user will be exposed to your ad once every other day or so, with no guarantee that he actually noticed it.

I normally set the frequency capping to 20 times per user PER DAY. If you think of how many web pages you visit in a day, 20 ads will be gone fairly quickly and you will probably miss most of them. Add in that for cart abandonment ads you really want to hit the abandoners hard within the first 24 hours, I think the 20 impressions per day is the safer bet.

But the true answer will vary based on your business, product, and customers.

A word about View Through Conversions

View Through Conversions are conversions where a display ad appeared on the screen, was NOT clicked, but the user ended up purchasing on your site sometime later. In general I recommend that everyone IGNORE View Through Conversions, in particular in remarketing campaigns.

What usually happens, is that an ad is displayed on screen, the visitor may not even see it, but clicks instead on a cart-abandonment e-mail and makes the purchase. AdWords will credit that conversion to the view through.

The one exception is for “brand unaware” customers. These are customers that have never visited your website before. If such a customer sees you ad, and purchases, then the odds are better that it was a result of your ad.

In an ideal world, there would be a simple way to test the value of your view-through-conversions, as they are different for every segment, and every business.

Other Resources

By Alex Czartoryski

Alex is the director of digital marketing for Manitobah Mukluks, Canada’s fastest growing footwear brand, where he helps the luxury winter boot manufacturer accelerate growth profitably via digital marketing. Alex has over 20 years experience in e-commerce and digital marketing.

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