Dynamic Remarketing, the Ad Personalization Your Business Will Fail Without

You’ve probably heard of remarketing before, but dynamic remarketing is a lesser-known campaign type that allows you to personalize your ads in a compelling way. Learning how to use these ads is vital to your marketing campaign.

What are Dynamic Remarketing Ads?

Remarketing refers to the practice of marketing to people who have visited your site in the past. Dynamic describes the way ads are served. Dynamic remarketing ads are self-modifying ads, which show people product ads based on what they browsed while they were on your site. The products a user viewed on your site are then served back to them in the form of banner ads.

Why Use Them

Dynamic remarketing is a fabulous way to get people who didn’t convert back to your site. These ads save you time designing creatives for all of your products. Not only do they save time, but they also allow you to customize your ads making them far more targeted than any regular remarketing campaign. Your banner ads serve the exact item the person was browsing for on your site. What other way could you easily show someone ads for a product they viewed on your site?

How to Set Dynamic Remarketing Ads Up

Setting these ads up is far from complicated, but the devil’s in the details. Anyone can set these ads up, but the savvy marketer takes full advantage of them creating a strategy that takes advantage of all possible audiences they can remarket to. Let’s start with the technical details.

The Technical Aspects

We’ll assume that you already have your Merchant Center set up and that AdWords and your Merchant Center are linked. From here, sign into AdWords, click campaign, and select a campaign type of “display.”

dynamic remarketing ads in adwords.png

Now, choose a goal. The whole idea is to generate more sales, so select “sales.”

sales goal dynamic remarketing adwords.png

Next, name your campaign and enter the locations you want to target. Designate a budget, then scroll down to additional settings and click to expand. Find “dynamic ads” and check the box for “Use a data feed for personalized ads.”

dynamic remarketing additional settings.png

Go to the data feed menu and find the data feed you want to use. This feed will be used to add the custom parameters to your tag. The custom parameters collect the website activity information that’s used to target your custom ads.

You’ll press “save and continue.” Create an ad group name. Then, find remarketing lists in the “select category” drop-down menu. Enter your ad group bid, and then click “save and continue.” Now all you have left to do is create your ads.

Note: These directions are for the new UI.

Your Remarketing Lists - The Real Goldmine

Your remarketing lists are crucial to setting up your dynamic remarketing the right way. Just using an “all visitors” list isn’t going to get you very far. So, how do you get more out of your audience? You target people who have viewed products and completed various goals on your site. Google has plenty of default audiences available between AdWords and Google Analytics, and you have the power to create your own based on your campaign goals.

Cart Abandoners

In marketing, we spend a lot of time talking about this segment of people. They almost made a purchase but...they didn’t. Cart abandoners are the group we like to make so many guesses about, but that's all they are is educated guesses. Why did they leave? How could we have won the purchase? They are usually the highest intent audience and are the most likely to make a purchase. Here’s your chance to win back this important set of visitors.

Since this audience is the highest intent, you shouldn’t leave the conversion window at the default setting. Utilize your Google Analytics and consider the customer’s journey to purchase. If you’re not sure what to use or are new to advertising, then start with 30 days for a smaller purchase (up to a few hundred dollars). If your product is a high dollar item ($500 or more), you’ll want to set the window a bit longer - say 60 days to start. Don’t be afraid to set the window to quite a long window as this audience is valuable.

Product Viewers

Someone has viewed your product or products but hasn’t made a purchase. This is an essential audience to have, and second only to the cart abandoners in importance. Target your ads to get the attention of someone who might be shopping around or hasn’t yet made a decision. Since you can show the visitor exactly what they were looking at, you can attempt to get them back to the site. The conversion window for the product viewer segment should be long enough to convert those still considering, but don’t extend it too long. An adequate amount of time in most cases would be 30 days.


Someone has purchased from your site, and now you’d like to get them to buy from you again. If you offer something that a person might want to buy regularly, you can use this opportunity to bring the purchaser back. If you don’t sell something an individual would like to stock up on, you can take a different approach and use this list to cross-sell or upsell to. Don’t discount someone’s value just because they already purchased once. That makes them a hot lead rather than a warm lead.

Take care to set this window appropriately. The conversion window should be based on the restock cycle if you are attempting to gain a repeat purchase. For instance, if you sell bottles of supplements that last 60 days, then you probably don’t want to start targeting them until the 50-day mark so that you will catch them in time to reorder. Then, you’ll market to them aggressively from the 50-day mark until about 70 days out from purchase.

For a cross-sell campaign, you want to market aggressively for the first week after purchase. Then ease off, but continue to target the purchaser until about 30 days from purchase. Doing this allows you to make the most of the purchaser audience. Think about how Amazon markets to you when you purchase.

Everyone Else

These people haven’t even looked at a single product. They may have visited your blog, or they could have only been as far as your homepage. They’re at the top of the funnel, but they were interested enough to click to your site. Don’t let it just fall away without giving them a second chance.

Get Even More Specific

Your lists can get even more narrow. You can create one for people who’ve bought in the last 30 days or viewed 2 products. Perhaps you’ve found that someone who bought product X is likely to buy product Y. Set up an ad group for this and generate an appropriate remarketing list.

Try combinations of time frames and behaviors. For example, a homepage visitor audience hasn’t shown much intent. This would be a good place to use some imported audiences from Google Analytics. For this particular audience, you want to use a short time frame like 1-3 days for your retargeting. For users who have visited more than one page, you might want to use page depth or time on site as a remarketing audience. Then, you can assign the number of days you’d like to remarket to them for based on the level of intent they’ve indicated.

Don’t worry, if you don’t find success then just move on. The real failure is never trying at all.

Bidding - Don’t Treat All Audiences the Same

Where is this audience in the funnel? A cart abandoner is almost to a purchase, but a page viewer hasn’t even looked at your products. Don’t make the mistake of bidding the same way on both. Set up your campaigns and ad groups based on audiences and funnels so that it’s possible to fine tune your bidding based on position in the funnel, behavior, and even the product they engaged with.

Top of the Funnel - Bid Low

If someone has viewed a non-product page or just the homepage, then they’re at the top of the funnel and you should bid as such. Start with a low bid, say $0.25 or $0.50. You don’t want to spend too much time or money on them. Don’t raise these bids unless you’re converting some of the clicks or have a high CTR. Not getting much traffic? Decide whether or not you have the budget to bid higher in this low intent audience.

Mid-Funnel - Bid Middle of the Road

Another step closer to the bottom of the funnel are those users who viewed a product or products. Think of this as the consideration stage. They may buy, but there’s an equal likelihood they may not. Start these bids a bit higher. Something like $2.00 is a good place, though keep your industry and niche in mind. Some are more expensive than others. The most important KPI is conversions (or purchases) as is the case with all sales campaigns. However, if your clickthrough is low, then it’s clear this segment isn’t interested.

The more engagement you receive here - the higher you should bid. You should use 2 metrics for engagement, time on site and click-through. If you’re getting a lot of clicks, then it’s okay to increase your bids by 2-5% at a time. However, if you’re not getting any conversions you may want to do some research to ensure your offer is competitive.

Bottom of Funnel - Bid Aggressively

Someone who has added a product to their cart and then abandoned it is closest to purchase, and furthest in the customer journey. This audience should have the highest bids. Start with a $4.00 bid. You should also be willing to aggressively adjust them. Behavior will dictate how much you adjust. Does this group convert well? Do they add a product to their cart again? You’ll need to be willing to dedicate a decent budget and bid high.  

Display Ads Specific Attributes

Display Ads Specific Attributes are extra attributes you add to your product feed that override the values that are being used for Shopping. These attributes add another layer to your marketing. The idea is to override some of your feed attributes like product titles so that you can better customise the feed for your Display ads campaign. This gives you more control of what shows and makes your ads more personal. Taking the time to customize your products will pay off because your ads won’t look so robotic and random. You’ll be able to give them the human touch that dynamically generated ads can’t have on their own.


You’ll need this “id” to tag your products for dynamic remarketing. It will identify your items for the campaign, and will override your product feed “id” and can only be used for 1 feed. It must be unique to 1 product in your account.


This handy little tag assigns titles to your products. You should use colors and other features that differentiate one product from another in your title IDs. Again, this attribute overrides your “title” attribute for remarketing campaigns.


This is an amazing tag, which will allow you to give your own recommendations for similar items. It’s great if you want to make sure the products you choose are the ones used as similar items rather than what Google chooses.

There are several attributes you can use here; we’ve just touched on the most useful ones. For more on the attributes available and how to implement them, visit the Merchant Center Help Files.

Make Your Creative Pop

Your audience isn’t the only thing that needs close attention to detail. Your creative is critical to getting the potential customer back to your site. Keep in mind, it’s not one part of your copy, but the whole package that attracts the user.

Eye-Catching Headlines

Your headlines need to be eye-catching. For instance, would you click an ad that said “nice microwave?” Or, would you be more inclined to click “The Only Microwave You’ll Ever Own?” This is your chance to get someone excited about what you have to offer. It’s time to trip the “I need it” behavior.

Note: While it’s important to produce headlines that are clickable, you’ll also need to create ad groups which segment products in a way that makes this possible.

A Promotion Worth Their Time

The online marketplace is competitive. One Google search is enough to see there’s already a shop selling anything you can imagine. You need to stand out, be a cut above the rest. A promotion or special offer is just the way to do it. Whether it’s 10% off or a free gift with the initial purchase, it’s critical to incentivize the user. A word to the wise - do your competitor research to ensure your offer will actually produce the results you desire.

End It with a Fabulous Call to Action

An ad with no call to action is like a book with no conclusion. You’ve got their attention, tell them what you’d like them to do! Simple calls to action are fine. “Shop now,” tells the user what you’d like them to do. “Buy now” does too. You don’t need to be complicated to get your point across.

Dynamic Prospecting - the Ultimate Audience Expansion

The dynamic remarketing system can be used in another way. Rather than going after lost sales, you can use the system as a prospecting tool. According to Google, “Dynamic prospecting uses machine learning to get an idea for what potential buyers are looking for.” Then, once the user has been identified it combines demographics such as income, age, and gender to find a product in your feed they’d likely be interested in.

Why Use It?

If you’re looking to expand, this is the next logical step. It’s like using similar audiences in a non-shopping campaign. You can reach potential buyers and increase your reach. It makes reaching a new market so much easier. If you’re new to advertising, this can help you generate the traffic you need to get your business going.

A Few Tips and Words of Wisdom

You’re probably ready to start your dynamic remarketing campaigns right now but before you do, reflect on these thoughts. You should always be trying, testing, and split testing every aspect of your marketing. Don’t settle for “good enough.” Don’t take failure to heart, use it as a learning experience. When you experience success, keep trying. If you rest on your laurels, it’s only a matter of time before you fail.

Now that you know how powerful dynamic remarketing is, start using it today and see your sales increase!