Remarketing with Google Analytics – Building Targeted Audiences

Remarketing with Google Analytics – Building Targeted Audiences

4th December 2012

Remarketing with Google has become more popular over the past six months and I think this is set to continue into 2013. Once you get the hang of it, it is relatively easy to set up and manage. The benefits I have seen off the back of creating and running remarketing campaigns has been huge. You can get maximum exposure for your brand at such a low cost as you can set it up so you only pay for the clicks, not impressions. Additionally, the Conversion Rate can also be high as the people you are following round are already engaged with your brand and more likely to convert.

When Google first launched remarketing, it was a very clunky to set up but since then they have relaunched the platform and have made it much simpler.

I am not going to go into detail about setting up remarketing in this post as there are some fantastic guides on Google but what I am going to do is give you some examples of lists and audiences that you can build to get the most out of your campaigns.

Setting Up Remarketing

There are two methods for getting started with remarketing on Google:

  1. Update your Google Analytics code across every page of your site
  2. Add an additional piece of code to every page of your site from Google AdWords

Of the two options, using Google Analytics to set this up is by far my preferred as you are open to a lot more flexibility and choices when it comes to building your lists/audiences. It only requires a simple update to the code and you don’t then need to add extra code to your site. You will need to make a change to the Privacy Policy on your site to inform your customers that you are using third party cookies.

This is an example of what you should look to add to your Privacy Policy:

Cookie Policy

This website uses the following cookies:

Google Analytics: The Google Analytics cookie allows us to see information on user website activity including, but not limited to page views, referral and average time spent on the website. The information is de-personalised and is displayed as numbers, meaning it will not be tracked back to individuals, which helps to protect your privacy. Using Google Analytics we can see what content is popular on our website, and strive to ensure you have the best user experience possible.

DoubleClick: We use Google Analytics remarketing codes to log when users view specific pages or take specific actions on the website. This allows us to provide targeted advertising in the future.

Building Lists / Audiences

One of the benefits of using Google Analytics is that when you create an audience, you can get an estimate of how many unique visitors will be assigned to a list when you build it. In the example below, I have created a list of all visitors to a particular site using the iOS Operating System. Google Analytics estimates that I have 750 unique visitors that will be assigned to this list.

This is really good to know as starting a campaign with a very small number of visitors is not going to yield the best results. It is advisable to start with an audience of at least 100.

Now that we have got the set up out the way, let’s get started looking at some of the ideas for building lists and audiences. I have tried to give an example of how a suggested audience could be used in a particular industry to put it into context as there is no point simply building audiences if you don’t know how to use them afterwards.

All Site Visitors

The simplest way to get started with remarketing is by building a list of all your site visitors, regardless of the page that they viewed. You will build your list up quickly and although it will not give you the most narrowed or targeted list, it will allow you to get your brand out there fast.


If you are looking to run a branding campaign to increase the awareness of your brand, this is a good route to go down. You should make sure that the adverts you create for the campaign are very generic and not product specific.

Members Areas

A lot of sites have areas that are specifically designed for members, account holders or pre-existing customers and using remarketing for this audience can be very rewarding.


Let’s take the Virgin Flying Club. The group of visitors to this dedicated area of the site are already engaged with and trust the Virgin brand. Virgin could create adverts specifically informing these customers that a new partner has joined the programme so they can now get miles from a new source.

Converting Customers

No matter what audience you start to build, you should always create a list of the customers that have converted on your site. What and who you group will depend on the goals of your website. Having a list of people who have converted already allows you to remove them from your other remarketing campaigns so you are not using up impressions/clicks on people who have already brought from you.

Another example:

In this example, I am using They will have a large number of transactions taking place on their website every day and they know a lot of information about the customer and the order that was processed.

Earlier this month, I brought the Paul McCartney DVD for my dad for Christmas. One way that to use remarketing is by following all customers who have brought a Paul McCartney product around with a targeted Paul McCartney ad enticing them back to the site to buy more products.

Shopping Cart Abandonments

Every e-commerce website will have an issue with shopping cart abandonment and although this is a frustrating issue, you can use remarketing to help recapture the attention of those customers once they have left your site.


Imagine the number of visitors Amazon gets to their website every day and how many of them add an item into their shopping basket and leave the site without purchasing. If Amazon were to create a list of all the visitors that viewed the checkout process pages and de-dupe this from the converting customers list, they could create adverts tailored to people that have not yet converted and bring them back into the site.

Products / Services

You can get as targeted as you like when it comes to remarketing and as long as you get enough traffic through to your website, you could look at creating lists of people that have viewed specific products or services. You would end up with a lot of different lists but the benefit of this means highly targeted remarketing.

Depending on the size of your site, using Google remarketing for this might not be wise. There are other remarketing platforms out there that allows you to create this level of grouping a lot easier.


This type of remarketing would suit a company like Moonpig as they have lots of different categories on their site. Using this level of remarketing they could target customers in two ways:

Specific Products – create adverts related to each category. If someone views any of the cards in the wedding section, but doesn’t make a purchase they could set the remarketing to follow them round with the adverts reminding them that they were looking to purchase a card for a wedding.

Similar Products – using the wedding category again, Moonpig could follow all visitors that viewed a wedding card page round with adverts reminding them that they may also need to think about anniversary cards.

YouTube Visitors

With YouTube being a Google property, you can update add your Google Analytics code to your YouTube channel and start building a list of all your YouTube followers. Once you have enough people in the list, you can begin remarketing.


Homebase upload lots of different videos on a regular basis ranging from ‘How to Guides’ to informative videos about kitchen designs. If Homebase were to track all the visitors to their YouTube channel, they could create an advert that tells visitors each time a new video is uploaded and entice them back into the channel to watch the video.

Operating System

When you are browsing the web from a mobile phone or iPad, your experience is often very different to when you are browsing from a computer. The average search query length is usually shorter and your attention span is reduced. To get their attention, marketing needs to be tailored and targeted to that platform.


The Koozai app is only available on iOS so we have a list of all the visitors on our website that use that operating system. When we want to give the app a push, we can create an advert promoting our iPhone app and only show it to people who are using the iOS.


These are just a few examples of ways that you can build remarketing lists. With remarketing now sitting from within the Google Analytics platform, you can get much more targeted and can now create lists based on many dimensions and metrics.

If you have any examples of remarketing lists that you have created and found effective, I would love to hear your ideas in the comments below.

Image Credit

Inscription on the Sand – Bigstock Images


Written By
Samantha Noble is the founder of Biddable Moments and a former editor and contributor to State of Digital.
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