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Digital Marketing Google Ads

Google Ads Remarketing Campaign Structure

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.

Audiences

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

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.

Audiences:

  • Cart Abandoners – 7 day
  • Cart Abandoners – 14 day
  • Cart Abandoners – 30 day
  • Cart Abandoners – 90 day
  • Cart Abandoners – 180 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.

Audiences:

  • Product Viewers – 14 day
  • Product Viewers – 30 day
  • Product Viewers – 90 day
  • Product Viewers – 180 day
  • Product Viewers – 365 day
  • Product Viewers – 520 day

3. Past Buyers

This ad group will show ads to people who have previously purchased. This is a good place to push micro conversions such as joining a loyalty program, joining a community, new product launches or related product up-selling.

Audiences

  • Past Buyers 14 days
  • Past Buyers 30 days
  • Past Buyers 90 days
  • Past Buyers 365 days
  • Past Buyers 520 days

Other Tips

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

Exclude GMail Placements

Gmail “clicks” don’t necessarily result in a visit to your site, and usually only represent the expansion of your ad. This can lead to attribution poaching, in particular if you have a newsletter that you send our regularly.

To exclude gmail placements, go to Placements > Exclusions and exclude mail.google.com

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

Categories
Attribution Digital Marketing Facebook Ads Google Ads

The Value of View Through Conversions

My personal experience with View Through Conversions (VTCs) is that they provide very little real-world lift in sales, and are more likely just poaching attribution from other channels. So I almost always give VTCs a value of zero and ignore them.

The truth probably lies somewhere in-between. For lower funnel remarketing campaigns VTCs probably provide close to zero value, while for truly brand-unaware audiences, the value is somewhere between 0 and 100%.

If you are one of those who wants to believe in the value of VTCs, you should calculate the true value of VTCs by running a placebo A/B test. Below is just such a test that we ran on the AdRoll network back in 2013:

Placebo A/B Tests to Measure View Through Conversions

Display Network A/B Test

How to Setup a Placebo A/B Test

You will likely need assistance from your ad platform or ad agency to properly run this sort of test. It is usually difficult to have a blank or psa ad approved.

  1. Create 2 separate (but equal) non-overlapping campaigns
  2. Campaign A will serve your “normal” ad
    Campaign B will serve a Public Service Announcement ad
  3. Run both campaigns for a few weeks
  4. Calculate VTC “lift” as follows:
Valid VTC Formula

Real Life Example

Campaign A
(Real Ad)
Campaign B
(PSA Ad)
Impressions99,46797,412
VTCs329261
Data from a real world A/B test performed in 2013 on the AdRoll network

VTC “Lift” = (329 – 261) / 329 = 20%

In this real life example, the irrelevant PSA Ads still managed to generate 80% of the View Through Conversion volume that the real ad generated. To be more clear, 261 people saw an ad to adopt a cat, and later went to BOATERexam.com to purchase a boating license.

So 80% of VTCs can be given a value of zero. Of the remaining 20%, more analysis is needed to figure out exactly how they influenced sales. The Real Ad did seem to generate more VTCs than the PSA ad, but the real question is if those VTCs resulted in extra incremental sales or were they simply tracking sales generated by another channel such as e-mail?

Real Life Example #2: Facebook

A few years later we ran a similar Placebo A/B test on Facebook with the help of SocialCode. Unfortunately I no longer have the data for this test, but the end results was that there was ZERO lift from VTCs, and the PSA ad actually outperformed the real ads from a VTC standpoint! (People seeing cats were buying more boating licenses than the people seeing ads for a boating license)

So how should you value View Through Conversions?

Here are my recommendations:

  • Give View Through Conversions a value of ZERO. Unless you can prove otherwise via an A/B test. This is especially true for re-marketing campaigns where the visitors have previously visited your site, and may be actively engaged in checkout when the ad is shown.
  • Run your own Placebo A/B test. If someone insists on using VTCs in performance metrics, then you should insist on running an A/B test to calculate the true value. You should run at least two tests: One for remarketing audiences and another for brand-unaware audiences.
  • Be cautious and skeptical of anyone pushing the value of VTCs especially if they are an ad agency or ad platform that will benefit from including the extra VTCs in their performance metrics.