Paid Search (PPC)

Most marketers use audience lists in Google AdWords for remarketing across the display network. However, we are seeing increased success for our clients using remarketing lists for search ads (RLSAs). This allows us to influence your search network bids based on the audience lists that can be created within Google AdWords.

When targeting lists on the search network, there are two broad approaches to using RLSAs, which I’ll explore below.

Adjust Search Network Bids Based On Audience Lists

With RLSAs, it’s possible to use your audience lists to influence the bids on search network keyword targeting. This can be particularly influential when targeting a product or service with a long buying cycle, where multiple searches might take place before a buying decision is reached.

We have been using this tactic on a number of clients, and below is just one example of the success we have seen. The audience list we used targets all users to the site over the past 30 days. We have implemented a 25% bid adjustment to anyone on the audience list being used:

RLSA Bid Adjustments

While the statistics alone might look good, they do not mean much without a comparison between audience list targeting and the campaign statistics on the whole.

Below is a comparison between all traffic and the RLSA traffic on the search network over a 30 day period:

RLSA Performance

The results show that there is a significant impact in engagement statistics where a user has been placed on the audience list in use. This is particularly demonstrated by the increase in click through rates, conversion rates, and cost per conversion.

To make bid adjustments to your campaigns based on audience lists, remember to select “bid only” when creating your audience lists. This will ensure that the campaign will continue to target all other users while placing an increased bid on your target audience:

Target & Bid or Bid Only

Target Existing Visitors Only

In contrast to the bid priority that we looked at above, it is possible to use RLSAs to only target users on an audience list. This approach allows you to target a variety of different keywords based on your audience lists. This effectively means that your ads will only show to users who are part of the audience lists and also search for a keyword being targeted.

If you use audience lists to create new campaigns specifically to target keywords, you can:

  • Target keywords that only become relevant after a user has visited your website
  • Create custom ads that have a higher relevance to a user that has visited your site
  • Send traffic to specific landing pages on your site that will increase the relevancy of the content delivered to the user

All of the above actions will allow your ads to be both more targeted and consistent with your wider marketing activity. This will ultimately lead to higher engagement rates and lower costs per acquisition within your Google AdWords account.

Limitations To RLSA Advertising

As with anything, there are limitations to how audience lists can be used on the search network:

  • While users can be kept on audience lists for longer periods on the display network, RLSA will limit the user to 180 days. This unfortunately means that you cannot target visitors based on annual renewals within industries such as insurance or service subscriptions.
  • A remarketing list for Google search ads must have at least 1000 cookies before it can be used to affect your search ads. This is much higher than the display network, which currently requires a minimum of 100 users on the audience list.
  • Remarketing lists that include display network demographics such as age, gender, & interests are not currently eligible for RLSA. This means that it is not yet possible to use Google Analytics to create lists for use within RLSAs.

Because of these limitations, there are rules concerning the specific targeting that can be applied. Nonetheless, the results that can be achieved using audience lists on the search network will allow advertisers to create ads that are highly targeted and very relevant to the user, which is the ultimate goal for all AdWords advertising.

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