Google Analytics Remarketing Lists - How To

by Andrew Miller   |   Aug 08, 2012   |   Clock Icon 4 min read
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One of our "next big things in PPC" just got bigger.

Google AdWords' remarketing capabilities have proven to be one of our most effective methods for increasing conversions while lowering the average Cost Per Conversion. It's such an effective tool that we have developed extremely sophisticated, logic-based implementation methods to create custom remarketing audiences based on very granular behavior and conversion data.

Thanks to Google Analytics' recent announcement of the merger of AdWords and Analytics remarketing audiences, we have even MORE ways to segment audiences so that only the right people see the right ad at the right time. This will really help cut down on wasted impressions and clicks that are not likely to directly or indirectly convert.

Here's how to update your Google Analytics and Google AdWords accounts to take advantage of remarketing with Google Analytics:

Step 1: Link AdWords and Analytics

If you haven't already done this, what are you waiting for? Here's how...

Yes, it's confusing and could (should) be simplified, but it unleashes an entirely new level of analysis and geekery that all AdWords managers should take advantage of.

Step 2: Update Your Analytics Tracking Snippet

This is a crucial, and easily overlooked, step. The standard asynchronous tracking code WILL NOT work.

Replace the bold code below:

var _gaq = _gaq || [];

_gaq.push(['_setAccount', 'UA-xxxxx-y']);


(function() {

var ga = document.createElement('script'); ga.type = 'text/javascript'; ga.async = true;

<strong>ga.src = ('https:' == document.location.protocol ? 'https://ssl' : 'http://www') + '';</strong>

var s = document.getElementsByTagName('script')[0]; s.parentNode.insertBefore(ga, s);


with the bold code here:

var _gaq = _gaq || [];

_gaq.push(['_setAccount', 'UA-xxxxx-y']);


(function() {

var ga = document.createElement('script'); ga.type = 'text/javascript'; ga.async = true;

<strong>ga.src = ('https:' == document.location.protocol ? 'https://' : 'http://') + '';</strong>

var s = document.getElementsByTagName('script')[0]; s.parentNode.insertBefore(ga, s);


Here are the official instructions in case you need more detail.

Step 3: Update Your Privacy Policy

Memo from the legal department: cover your ass and update your privacy policy with this info.

Make sure your visitors are made aware of your intent to remarket to them and the implementation method you have chosen: the DoubleClick cookie.

This cookie is Google's not-so-secret weapon in the online ad wars. It allows Google to marry your GA visit sessions with their wide network of AdSense and DoubleClick ad placements to provide "interest-based advertising" (remarketing and behavioral targeting).

Step 4: Create Remarketing Audiences in Google Analytics

In the "Admin" area of your Google Analytics interface, click on "Remarketing Lists", then "+New Remarketing List".

Next, select how you want to segment your remarketing list. The most advanced options allow you to target people that viewed a particular page (product, service, or category pages can work well), or completed a conversion goal (e.g. transaction, lead, or event).

Don't worry about mixing your audiences here. Just set them up and we can create custom combinations in AdWords. Click "Save Remarketing List" and log into AdWords.

Step 5: Create Custom Combinations in AdWords

Once your Remarketing Audiences are set up, they should show up in your AdWords shared library > Audiences menu.

Click the green New Audience button, then Custom Combination. This is where it gets FUN.

Try combining audiences using the ANY or NONE selectors to reach people in one group but not another. For example, we target visitors who viewed a product or shopping cart page but did not complete a purchase goal.

Once you are satisfied, add these audiences to an ad group (preferably a separate ad group) and watch the results come in!

Step 6: Bask, Then Get Back To Work

Take a moment to marvel at what you have accomplished...then do it some more! The possibilities are now endless and you won't need any IT/dev support once your tracking snippet is updated.

Test different combinations of audiences. Rotate new creative into your Remarketing ad groups. Experiment with Enhanced CPC. Try mobile. Try new landing pages. Just test anything!

Portrait of Andrew Miller

Andrew Miller

Andrew is a data-driven marketer, speaker, and problem solver. He co-founded Workshop Digital in 2015 and as the VP of Client Services, he ensures our teams of passionate people have what they need to help our clients achieve their goals. Andrew regularly speaks to marketing and professional audiences with an authentic, passionate message to raise their collective marketing intelligence.

Andrew collects hobbies and devotes his time to his family, competing in triathlons, amateur gardening, and mentoring Richmond youth as a member of the Junior Achievement of Central Virginia board of directors.