Dynamic Remarketing vs. Traditional Remarketing – what have we learnt?

Pink Lining Remarketing

Remarketing via Google AdWords has been around for a few years now. It’s a great way to get previous visitors back to your site by showing customised ads based on the section of the site they visited (and therefore showed an interest in) as they browse the web.

Dynamic remarketing is a relatively new feature in AdWords which has only been fully released for a few months now. This takes remarketing a step further by displaying your site visitors an ad with the specific product that they viewed on the site.

With traditional remarketing in AdWords, it was often almost impossible for many retailers to find the time, resource or technology to be able to create a set of image ads for every single product on the site, especially if you had thousands of different products.

The most popular approach would end up being remarketing to a broader audience, such as product category, and serving a more generic ad going through to a category landing page. Whilst this approach still resulted in a decent ROI, it is obviously not as relevant as retargeting someone with the specific product they viewed on the site and taking them through to a product page. This is where dynamic remarketing comes in!

Dynamic Remarketing: How does it work?

In order to use dynamic remarketing, you need to ensure your Google Merchant Centre account is linked to your Google AdWords account (similar to how Product Listing Ads work). You also need to add a new dynamic remarketing tag to your site which contains the following custom parameters:

  • Product ID (taken from your Merchant Centre product feed)
  • Page type (whether it is the homepage, category page, product page, basket page or purchase page)
  • Product value (value of product on page or sum of values on basket page)

Although we have found this can be tricky to setup, it is important it’s done correctly as the remarketing tag uses the custom parameters to add visitors to one of the following remarketing lists:

  • General visitors – people who visit your website but didn’t view specific products
  • Product viewers – people who viewed specific products, but didn’t add them to basket
  • Shopping cart abandoner’s – people who added products to the basket but didn’t complete the purchase
  • Past buyers – people who purchased products from you in the past

An important point to note is the lists above don’t overlap, so visitors will only be on one list at a time, depending on how close to purchase they were when they visited your site.

The remarketing tag is also used to associate the product ID with the visit. This means Google can take the relevant product image, name and price from your Google Merchant Centre account and include it in the ad based on the actual product the user viewed on the site. Simple yet clever!

Once you have verified that the code has been implemented correctly, onto the fun part, designing the ads! Most PPC experts are not the most creative folks (me included!) but using Google’s ad gallery templates, you can actually come up with a nice set of image ads. They allow you to customise the adverts using style elements such as your brand, logo and branding colours, so it is well worth spending the time on this and coming up with a few different templates to test alongside each other. Once the ads have been approved by Google, you can press the magic button!

Results so far

Whilst this is still a relatively new feature in AdWords, we have seen some very impressive results so far across a number of different clients, including:

  • Conversion rates from dynamic remarketing are 3X higher than traditional remarketing
  • ROI on dynamic remarketing is 300% higher than traditional remarketing
  • Click Through Rates on dynamic remarketing ads are 7X higher than traditional remarketing ads
  • Although the audience size is smaller, shopping cart abandoners are the most effective audience, driving a conversion rate of 12% with very impressive ROIs
  • Traffic between text and image ads is pretty even, but image ads drive 2/3 of all conversions


Dynamic remarketing is a feature that has been a long time coming in AdWords. Whilst dynamic remarketing solutions have been available via alternative providers prior to Google, they were quite expensive to run for small-to-medium sized retailers. Now it’s here, it has quickly becomes mass market for all sized retailers to use.

We are seeing some great results and would encourage all retailers to use it, especially during the festive period.

Whilst dynamic remarketing appears to yield much better returns than traditional remarketing, we still believe traditional remarketing has an important role to play in a paid search strategy. We have seen strong results when using it seasonally to support key events (i.e. sales, promotions, catalogues, product launches, new websites and so on), so do bear this in mind when mapping out your remarketing strategy for 2014.


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