Google Analytics Remarketing Lists – How To

Remarketing CycleOne 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;

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

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;

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

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”.

Admin Remarketing Lists

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).

New Remarketing List

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.

AdWords Audience Library

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

AdWords Custom Combinations

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!


  1. kristel gem lee says

    Hello. i didn’t see the remarketing list tab on my Google analytic and i’m a little bit confuse with “Update Your Privacy Policy” what should i do?

    • says

      Hi Kristel, I’m not sure if this feature is U.S. only. If you don’t see the Remarketing Lists link in your Analytics admin area, it may not be available to you yet.

      Your privacy policy should reflect your country’s requirements for disclosing which tracking methods you are using and how much personal information is gathered. If you are concerned about getting it right, it might be best to consult with a lawyer that understands your country’s privacy laws. Good luck!

  2. Mark Joseph Diamzon says

    Hi mate,

    Just one quick question, how can i remove cookie to a customers browser after he/she successfully make conversion?

    Is this available only in the US? How about in the Philippines?

    Thank you.

    • says

      Good question. You can’t remove a cookie from the visitor’s browser after a conversion (easily). You should make a new remarketing list for people that convert (based on a page view, GA goal, or Event).

      Then, you’ll have two lists: Visitors and Visitors that Converted. Create a Custom Combination that INCLUDES Visitors and EXCLUDES Visitors that Converted. Then, you can set that Custom Combination as an audience and only remarket to people that didn’t convert. Good luck!

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