The most exciting AdWords feature to be rolled out in some time is Remarketing for Search Ads (RFSA). The "audiences" for this feature work exactly as they do with classic remarketing; the difference is that the ads may now appear in Google search engine results pages (SERPs), triggered by conventional keyword bidding.
"Behavioral targeting" has acquired a bit of a creepy reputation, seemingly overnight. It's not clear that it's inherently over the line. In the grander scheme of things, all advertising has the potential to be annoying, much like loud Broadway showtunes can be annoying in the wrong context. It's a "feel" thing.
Some irresponsible marketers are cheering as they annoy people and laugh when they're accused of "following people around." But you can't "educate" consumers out of feeling stalked. It's a hard thing to measure, but every so often it pays to ask yourself if you're using remarketing judiciously, or excessively. It can be as simple as using shorter date ranges or properly applying impression caps.
Last year, we heard a rumor that remarketing setup would become more powerful while also getting easier, in part because all the audience definition would be pulled from rich data available about users via Google Analytics. That would also simplify code installation.
It hasn't quite worked out this way, but the principle of what is being deployed is similar to using Google Analytic's power to set up audiences.
What Googlers are now calling the "new remarketing pixel," or "smart pixel" is intended to go on every page of your site. That's similar to how Google Analytics code is placed today. On the search side, this will allow more convenient audience definition. For example, you should be able to create an audience for "people who have stayed on the website longer than 90 seconds" to set a higher bar of engagement as part of your remarketing audience strategy. If not quite that, then you'll certainly be able to specify multiple page visits, etc., with more ease as the interface is beefed up.
Reawakening Failed Keywords
RFSA should provide a nice way to scoop up a bit of conversion volume from keywords that fall into the "tantalizingly close to working" bucket. Like me, you're probably sitting on paused campaigns in keyword areas that didn't quite work. Let's posit two main categories of "should work…really want them to work…but haven't quite worked":
Often, the problem is a combination of these two problems.
How to Use It? Three Use Cases
The playing field tilts in your favor if you know the users have familiarity with your brand through previous interaction with your website. Consider the following examples:
It's clear that Google has put some thought into avoiding excess "creep factor" when it comes to the remarketing ads that appear on its prize real estate on Google Search. Google's working on editorial policies; for example, prohibiting advertisers from explicitly talking about "coming back" to the website. Instead, general references to offers, specials, and other new developments are recommended as subtler means of bringing people back.
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Goodman is founder and President of Toronto-based Page Zero Media, a full-service marketing agency founded in 2000. Page Zero focuses on paid search campaigns as well as a variety of custom digital marketing programs. Clients include Direct Energy, Canon, MIT, BLR, and a host of others. He is also co-founder of Traffick.com, an award-winning industry commentary site; author of Winning Results with Google AdWords (McGraw-Hill, 2nd ed., 2008); and frequently quoted in the business press. In recent years he has acted as program chair for the SES Toronto conference and all told, has spoken or moderated at countless SES events since 2002. His spare time eccentricities include rollerblading without kneepads and naming his Japanese maples. Also in his spare time, he co-founded HomeStars, a consumer review site with aspirations to become "the TripAdvisor for home improvement." He lives in Toronto with his wife Carolyn.
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