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Google Launches Remarketing in Search in Beta

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retargeting-magnifying-glassRemarketing is now an established tactic leveraged by many (if not all) digital marketers trying to maximize conversion activity. Retargeting, in its simplest form, is the practice of delivering display advertisements to users who have visited owned content in the past, in order to get them to come back and take action.

Retargeting on its own has many layers of complexity, including, determining which pages to track and which to exclude, developing relevant “cookie pools” against the tracked pages, and what creative messaging to deliver to each cookie pool.

However, one constant is that remarketing has always been managed in the realm of display media, and we couldn't target previous visitors within the SERP landscape with a paid listing ad. That’s changing. This change, along with the phase out of Google Product Search in favor of Product Listing Ads could alter the SEM landscape as we know it.

Google has recently announced a beta program called Remarketing in Search, which aims to take the benefits of remarketing and leverage them within the SERP environment. The idea is simple: create remarketing lists as you do with display, but leverage this customer knowledge to impact you’re messaging and bidding strategy within your SEM campaigns to improve performance.

The benefits to leveraging remarketing within search are straightforward and include:

  • Maximizing relevant ad copy. If you know a user has been looking for “red shoes” on your site, use that information to stand out among your competition in the SERP when the user next searches on “women’s shoe stores.” By applying your knowledge of what the user has been looking for, you can likely increase your CTR and drive visits, while increasing your quality score.
  • Value of the customer and associated click value. A user who is familiar with your brand is more likely to convert to a buyer and as such, being able to reach known users within the SERP should impact your bidding strategy. Just like you can increase your CPCs on keywords that convert better to maximize potential, now you increase your CPCs on known customers to maximize potential.
  • Landing Page Selection. Knowing the content the user has visited can impact the landing page your search ads link to. In the above “red shoes” example, the standard landing page for “women’s shoe stores” may be your homepage, or a store listings page. However, knowing the user is interested in red shoes, and with “red shoes” in your ad copy, you can land the user back to your red shoes page. You are in effect, creating personalized landing page relevancy based on the user’s history.

While exciting and definitely worth testing, there are a few standards that need to be managed in order to leverage the opportunity:

  • Clients must use Google remarketing pixels to create the cookie pools associated with retargeting.
  • Unique campaigns must be built separate from existing search campaigns. While seemingly straightforward, this creates a competitive landscape whereby your remarketing campaign will compete for visibility with your standard campaign. As we understand it, “normal quality score rules” will determine which campaign (and associated bid) is triggered by each unique search query. Knowing that your remarketing campaign won’t have any history behind it, expect to manage your bids accordingly in order to ensure visibility.
  • Ad copy cannot expressly call out that you know what the user is looking for. Using the same “red shoes” example, while you can leverage “red shoes” in your copy, you can’t specifically call out “looking for red shoes?” There’s a fine line that we as marketers must keep in mind. It will be interesting to see how Google polices this aspect moving forward.

Remarketing is a tried and true tactic for increasing performance. Paid search is a highly effective and efficient marketing channel. Google is leading the charge to combine both in so we, as marketers, can reach the best users, right when they are most interested in acting.

We look forward to testing this new opportunity and we encourage you to test as well.


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