How does Google Remarketing work and why should your ecommerce use it?

Google Remarketing has become one of the most used platforms between B2B and B2C companies. According to a study by AdRoll, only 2% of consumers make a conversion during their first visit to an online store. Instead of giving up the remaining 98%, retargeting campaigns seek to recover a portion of these potential customers, giving them a second chance. But how does Google Remarketing work, what exactly does this advertising modality consist of?
Since its launch in 2000, Google AdWords advertising tools (Google Ads since last year) have been a great ally for brands in all sectors. Remarketing campaigns enjoy enormous popularity due to their high conversion rate and excellent ROI. When a potential consumer sees a retargeting ad, there is a 70% probability that they will purchase the product/service in question, according to a Criteo study.
Surprisingly, 9 out of 10 marketers consider retargeting to perform better (or at least as well) than email marketing or organic search engine positioning, according to AdRoll’s State of the Industry study.

What is remarketing and why does it interest ecommerces?

Before delving deeper into the functioning of Google Remarketing, it is logical to correctly define this advertising tool, which is increasingly used in the digital world.
Remarketing is defined as a type of campaign aimed specifically at a group of users who have previously visited a particular ecommerce, either by organic traffic or paid. On this visit, this group has received a tracking cookie, which has been stored on your navigation device and allows you to show again the products visited through ads.
Remarketing is therefore similar to giving a second chance to those consumers who were about to make a conversion. Compared to the usual marketing campaigns often found on Google and Facebook, retargeting campaigns are very segmented, as they target a common audience: they visited a website without converting.
In addition to the benefit of segmentation, remarketing campaigns have many other advantages, such as high click rates or high return on investment for advertisers.

How exactly do retargeting ads work?

The question that many companies ask themselves is obvious: how Google Remarketing works. The ‘life cycle’ of these campaigns consists of three clearly differentiated phases:

Phase 1: Discovery

A user visits and browses an ecommerce, visits several categories and stops at one or several products. However, they do not perform any conversion (purchase items, fill in subscription forms, etc.) and leave the site. However, your adventure has just begun, as a cookie has been stored on your navigation device.

Phase 2: Tracking

Each cookie has a unique ID that allows for accurate tracking of any user and which, because of its intrusiveness, is regulated by various laws and conditions (e.g. Cookie Policy). For brands, these cookies are vital, as they are included in their remarketing list, to be used in subsequent PPC advertising campaigns.

Phase 3: conversion

As these users continue to browse, cookies help brands follow them on their ‘journey’ over the internet, showing them advertisements of products or services they have previously visited, so that they can reconsider their purchase. In this last phase, the user can review those products that caught their attention by clicking on the ad, being redirected to the ecommerce you visited in the past.
Another interesting question that arises is how to do Google Remarketing. In essence, Google Ads offers advertisers three ways to carry out their campaigns: display remarketing, YouTube remarketing and search remarketing. The choice of format will depend on the target and advertising strategy of the advertising company. For example, a beverage brand whose consumers visit YouTube frequently will find it very convenient to use video marketing for their retargeting campaigns.
For reasons of security and privacy, Google Ads has a series of controls designed to regulate this type of advertising, such as age groups to follow (age, gender, etc..), the period of time that cookies remain in the lists of advertisers or the number of impressions allowed.
These controls, however, are only intended to ensure that remarketing campaigns are respectful of users and respect their rights on the Internet as much as possible.

Is there life beyond Google AdWords Remarketing? 3 excellent alternatives

Clarified how retargeting ads work, it must be stressed that Google Ads does not have a monopoly on this promotion technique. Other advertising platforms, such as Facebook Retargeting, ReTargeter or Perfect Audience, allow remarketing campaigns with excellent results.

Facebook Retargeting

With some 2.196 million active users (July, 2018), Facebook is proud to be the most important social network, due to its long history and a community that offers endless possibilities for brands. Not surprisingly, Facebook Retargeting is a very interesting alternative to Google Ads.
Facebook’s custom audiences offer flexibility, allowing you to create separate lists for different types of users who have visited a particular website. Zuckerberg’s social network is also ideal for using subscriber lists in retargeting campaigns.


Since its creation in 2009, ReTargeter has stood up to Google Ads, attracting advertisers such as Zendesk or Hireology, which demonstrates the effectiveness of their solutions in retargeting. One of ReTargeter’s strengths is its compatibility with Facebook. It is also possible to use a CRM retargeting service from contacts and subscription lists.

Perfect Audience

Another interesting alternative to Google Ads is Perfect Audience, which offers effective solutions for retargeting campaigns on mobile devices, Facebook and other channels. One of its strong points is the possibility of segmenting the audience more, not only showing remarketing ads to visitors of a website, but only to those who have visited specific categories and landing pages.
Companies that have just discovered how Google Remarketing works should not waste time in launching a campaign, as its results will exceed their expectations. On the other hand, using this form of marketing is vital to compete on equal terms with rivals, since 49% of brands and 68% of advertising agencies devote part of their budgets to remarketing, according to a study by Incite Group.
Despite their great advantages, retargeting campaigns have some drawbacks that should be considered before launching a campaign, such as their invasive nature, the slowness in the development of the strategy or the impossibility of reaching new users, all of which have a negative impact on both the brand and its potential consumers.

Image credit : Black Orbit


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ECN Team
E-Commerce Nation is The 1st B2B Web Media about E-Commerce in Europe. The team of E-Commerce Explorers help businesses to reach new potential market through delivering useful content. Let us know in comment if you enjoyed this content.