How to Create Remarketing Campaigns in Google AdWords

Google AdWords is one of the most popular marketing tools out there. Twitter and Facebook recently implemented their own capabilities, but few know Google AdWords was the first to offer self-serve remarketing services.

So, In this post, we’ll go through the process of creating a remarketing campaign in AdWords step-by-step.

What is Remarketing?

Remarketing, or retargeting, allows you to tailor your ad experience to returning visitors. You can further specify your ad’s audience by creating conditions, or ‘Rules’, by which users are targeted. Using retargeting makes it possible to create a feeling of familiarity and promote special offers with an audience’s personal tastes and needs in mind.

To run a successful remarketing campaign you must first create a list, then define how users will be added. To do this you must examine how you want your users to be sorted: for example, do you want to target every person who has ever visited your website, or only those who have made a purchase and have triggered the ‘thank you’ page? This decision will be unique to your business and the goals you want your ad campaign to achieve: there is no one-size-fits-all ideal way to select a retargeted audience.

When creating a retargeting campaign it is vital to bear in mind that some information about your viewers is not allowed to be included in remarketing efforts. Personal and sensitive information such as sexual orientation or behaviour, political views and ethnic background are all prohibited to be included in retargeting campaigns as specified by Google. It is also not allowed to assume information about a user’s interest or participation in age-restricted activities such as gambling or adult dating by analysing their browsing habits.

Do not create your campaigns to target these users specifically because of their personal circumstances, as you will face account suspension and ad disapproval.

Bearing this in mind, if you have queries about your audience’s suitability for retargeting, please consult Google’s advertising policy for more information.

Create Your Own Remarketing Campaign

Now that you have the background needed to create a well thought-out ad campaign, the step-by-step process for creating a remarketing list in Google AdWords:

  1. Sign in to AdWords. Choose ‘Shared Library’ in the left panel, then ‘View’ in the ‘Audiences’ section.
  1. Click to add a Remarketing List.
  1. Name your list (e.g. Returning Visitors).
  1. At this stage you can choose which visitors to target. In the ‘Who to Add to Your List’ drop down menu, select ‘Rules’ and add the criteria you want to apply to your target market. A dialogue will appear where you can specify the conditions your web page needs to match. Visitors will only be targeted after they visit your website, you cannot add them manually.
  1. You also need to decide how long a user will remain targeted by your campaign, using “Membership Duration”. 30 days is ideal for a small to medium-sized site. The ideal length of time is not so long that people forget about what you offer, but bear in mind Google AdWords caps membership duration at 540 days for Display Network ads. If you set a duration longer than the maximum length allowed, membership will be cancelled after 540 days. After you have set your ideal duration, click ‘Save’.




  1. Go back to the ‘Audiences’ page and find your unique remarketing tag. Remember not to use any personal or sensitive information in your remarketing tag as it will be on display for viewers to see.

Now, copy and paste this tag into your site’s source code. When you have done this, visitors who qualify for your lists will be added automatically.

More About Rules

Rules are an extremely powerful feature of Google AdWords that let you completely customise which of your website’s users are exposed to your ad campaign. Google AdWords creates default lists for you when you create your campaign, but you can create rules of your own to focus on those users that will most likely benefit from seeing your targeted ad.

For example: you manage the website of a restaurant which wants to show an ad for a theme night to those who have visited their ‘Menu’ page in the last two weeks. You would create a ‘Theme Night’ list with a membership duration of fourteen days, and add a rule to target all visitors who viewed the web page ‘menu.html’. When these visitors return to the site, they will now see an ad for the restaurant’s upcoming theme night.

Using Campaigns to Target Your List

After completing the steps above, your site is set up to receive retargeting information. Now it’s time to set up the ad campaign these users will see.

  1. Click to create a new campaign under ‘Display Network Only’. Ensure you choose ‘All Features’ or ‘Remarketing’.
  1. Follow the steps to create a new campaign. You must add at least one ad group.
  1. Click the “Display Network” tab in your ad group, then add a target using the dropdown menu and select ‘Interests and Remarketing’.
  1. Find the ‘Remarketing Lists’ tab and choose the list you have just created.

Now you’re finished. Once your campaign is populated with ads and bids, your users will start seeing your retargeted ads immediately.

We can set-up your campaign

Got questions about remarketing? We can set-up your campaign and start generating you leads. Get in touch for more information on how to target previously interested customers.