Dynamic Remarketing Ads: The Future of Google Remarketing


Google’s new dynamic remarketing feature – currently in beta – is hands down the best release from Google I’ve seen in a long time. As far as I’m concerned, this will be a MUST DO for all e-commerce websites that are advertising with Google.

I’ve recently had the opportunity to try out the new dynamic remarketing ads, and in this post, I’ll explain how they work, why they’re better than traditional remarketing, and why you should care.

Google Remarketing: The Old Way

For any e-commerce website, it is becoming more and more important to have a Google Merchant Account set up. Merchant accounts are becoming extremely valuable within AdWords, as they feed your PLAs (Product Listing Ads, soon to be replaced with Google Shopping Campaigns), Product Extensions, and now your remarketing efforts. As most of you know, remarketing is important because not all potential customers that come to your site purchase right away. You need to continue to influence them not only through Google search and from your website, but also across Google’s display network, as people spend 95% of their time away from Google.

Most people I’ve worked with have remarketing set up, but it is generally too simplistic, in that it catches ‘All Visitors’ to their website, and serves them one generic message. Those that I’ve spoken with that are ahead of the curve, are segmenting visitors to their site, and remarketing to those that have ‘Abandoned the Shopping Cart’ or ‘Visited A Product Page.’ If you’ve gotten this far, bravo, you are doing a much better job than most of your competitors. However, this strategy has always been a HUGE undertaking. What if you have 50,000 products? Are you going to create 50,000 audience segments, and 50,000 unique image ads?

Related: What is AdChoices?

How Dynamic Remarketing Is Different

I know the biggest pain point in my remarketing efforts has always been getting image ads generated for all of the products for sale. With Google’s new Dynamic Remarketing feature (still in beta), Google will dynamically create ads for you that include your price, image, and text of your choice, all based on the behavior of your website visitors. Pretty sick, huh? No more dealing with creative, and more importantly, you can reach your customers with laser-focused messaging based on the products or content they were interested in when they visited your site.

If you were ShoeMe.Ca, an e-commerce shoe site, and your potential customer looked at a specific pair of Converse sneakers, wouldn’t it be best to serve an ad with the image and price of the Men’s White Converse Chuck Taylor All Stars he was viewing, and throw in a free shipping offer to entice him to come back? Or maybe cross-sell him with a pair of High Tops in case they are going for the Lil Wayne look? It’s all going to be possible through Google real soon, and you will see solid gains in performance for your e-commerce website.

How Dynamic Remarketing Works

Here’s how it works:

You will be required to set up a customized Remarketing Tag on your site that will pull down Product Identification numbers from your merchant feed and pass them on to Google. Google will then match these Product IDs to your Google Merchant Center feed and use those characteristics to power your ‘Dynamic Ads.’

To get you started, there is some remarketing tagging you'll place on your site. The implementation does take some coding knowledge, but if you are running an e-commerce website, you likely have a developer who is more than qualified to work with the JavaScript requirements.

Once the coding is implemented properly, you’ll need to get things set up in AdWords. Just like any remarketing campaign, you’ll need to set up some audiences to target. To do this, navigate to your Shared Library, Audiences, and then select ‘Remarketing list’ from the ‘New audience’ dropdown as seen below.

Dynamic Remarketing Audience

From there, create a ‘List Definition,’ meaning select who you want to contain in the audience. In the example below, I’ve selected ‘pagetype equals product.’ This means I’ll be cookie-ing those that have visited any page on my site that contains ‘product’ in the URL string. I’ve then chosen a ‘Membership duration’ of 15 days. This basically means the number of days a visitor’s cookie will stay on my remarketing list.

Google Dynamic Remarketing List

You can then assign the audiences to the ad groups you think will work best.

Within ShoeMe’s account, you'll see four ad groups:

  1. Product Viewers: Matches dynamically generated ads based on specific product pages visited by the user.
  2. Shopping Cart Abandoners: Dynamically generates ads based on product pages visited by users who added items to their cart, but did not make a purchase, reducing money lost to shopping cart abandonment.
  3. Buyers 3-60 Days: Targets users who made a purchase in the last 2 months for the purpose of strategically upselling related products.
  4. Non-Product Viewers: Targets users who have been to a page on the site other than a product page, and generates ads based on the content of the pages that the user has been to.

I would encourage you to bid more aggressively for Shopping Cart Abandoners and for Product Viewers (who are further down the buying cycle). I tiered the bidding below with highest bid for Shopping Cart Abandoners, and lowest bid for Non Product Viewers (visited homepage, blog, etc.)

Dynamic Remarketing Campaign

Creating Your Dynamic Remarketing Ads

After assigning the appropriate audiences to each ad group, you’ll need to set up your ads. This is the cool part. The ‘Display ad builder’ will soon have a dynamic ad option as seen below, with each banner size offering over 15 dynamic ads formats to choose from.

Dynamic Remarketing Ad Preview

In the ad seen here, your potential customer would have likely viewed these products, and is now being served the same product again, or a different style. They can then click on that specific product within the ad and be will be directed to that specific product page. How’s that for qualifying your clicks? The ads will also rotate products, and generally be much more dynamic than static image ads.

AdWords Dynamic Remarketing

Why Dynamic Remarketing Is So Awesome

There are companies out there that offer similar remarketing options, but now you can do it all yourself within AdWords without any additional fee on top of your clicks. You’ll have much better control on your remarketing efforts, and I’m suspecting huge returns. ShoeMe.ca knows that 50% of its business comes from returning visitors. Of these returning visitors, the average order value is $6 higher than new visitors, and the average conversion rate is 30% higher! Reengagement is a data-proven key to their business, and the dynamic remarketing is reengagement on steroids.

Dynamic remarketing will be a key factor to any e-commerce website’s future success, and if you don’t get in the game, you will fall behind.

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Larry Kim
Apr 01, 2013

Thanks for this write-up, tony!

David Rothwell
Apr 02, 2013

Excellent post - thanks so much for sharing!

Apr 02, 2013

Glad you found it helpful! I'll keep everyone updated on the success of the campaign.

Larry Kim
Jun 03, 2014

I like cool kids liek you~

Jun 24, 2014

For a long time, i have been looking for best post for remarketing for my google adwords account. Finally i have got what i was looking for. thank you very much for posting this.

Apr 12, 2013

Great write up Tony. Very interesting happenings with Google, as always.Yes, it sure would be interesting to see in the future whether Google could apply this same idea to a service-based business or one that isn't e-commerce oriented.My first thought of concern was the design of the ads themselves-- I guess it's a double-edged sword, as with dynamic remarketing you're now afforded a HUGE time savings, but rather limited to Google's already established ad designs... from what I could tell, you don't have much say on how they look (other than inserting your product and logo). I guess that's the 'sacrifice' though in this time saving initiative.Thanks, Drew  

Eyal Gershon
Apr 12, 2013

Great post, Seems as if you guys are always on top of your game.Thank you,Eyal

May 20, 2013

Hi,I dont think Google Merchant Centre is available for India yet. So, I cant try it out yet??

May 31, 2013

hi therei LOVE the idea of dynamic remarketing!!i am trying to get this set up, and I am stumped at an early set up barrier.DO I NEED TO USE LIST DEFINITION?List Definition  Define a list of site visitors based on the selection below: When i do, it just comes up with "URL"  contains as an option.. there is no pagetype available?? all help would be greatly appreciated.. thanks! :)

Jordan McClements
Jun 11, 2013

You'll still need to look at other providers if you want dynamic remarketing ads to appear on Facebook (unless Google and FB decide to be friends after all).

Jun 25, 2013

Tony - we're going to test this out too.  Do you have any updated results from the campaign to share?

Jun 28, 2013

It's useable with the Google Ananytics Remarketing Code?

Jul 25, 2013

Great blog!  Thanks for sharing.

John S.
Oct 24, 2013

Dynamic banners are indeed revolutionary. The classic banners were one of the first things that started the monetization of the WWW and it was clear that their effectiveness will decrease with the years, users practically ignore them. For a while Google published some stats and classic banners accumulate for only 0.07 percent CTR for a simple image. I'm pretty sure that dynamic local displays will be much more effective and it's about time to see them on every webpage.

John Lennon
Dec 18, 2013

Excellent article, we haven't applied remarketing on our website yet but this information creates it seem very little a bit difficult.  Thank you!

Mar 14, 2014

Hi TonyCan you talk about Dynamic ad creative on Facebook ?

Apr 15, 2013

Thanks, Eyal - glad you found it helpful.  We'll keep you posted on any new betas.

Aaron Levy
Apr 03, 2013

I know there was a minimum spend associated with this when it first came out - any idea if that's still the case??

Apr 03, 2013

Hi Aaron,I don't believe there is a minimum spend.  I have the flexibility to set my budget to whatever I'd like, so doesn't seem to be an issue.  I'm not sure if there is a minumum account spend that Google wants to be eligible.  This is something I can ask about and let you know.  

Apr 03, 2013

This is really great stuff! Thank you for the great wriite-up.A quick clarifying question: do you need to have a Google Merchany account set-up in order to utilize the new dynamic remarketing??Thanks!Nina

Apr 03, 2013

Hi Nina,Yes, the product works by placing a customized Remarketing Tag on your site that will pull down Product Identification (Product ID) numbers and pass them on to Google. Google will then match these Product Identification numbers to your Google Merchant Center feed and use those characteristics to power your Dynamic Ads.Hope this helps!Tony

Apr 03, 2013

thats what I was looking for.... more control.... on ecommerce remarketing... I am sure that help us more conversions...GREAT POST

Apr 04, 2013

Some good data coming through in the first week.  11 sales and over 50 view through conversions.Glad you found this helpful!

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Jessica Paul
Apr 06, 2013

I am really very impressed with the new Dynamic Remarketing feature. The way Google will dynamically create ads for you that include your price, image, and text of your choice, all based on the behavior of your website visitors is simply great. This is a revolution in Internet MArketing

Apr 11, 2013

Thanks for the comment, Jessica.  I'm having good success with it so far, and it's definitely made my life much easier!

Apr 10, 2013

Great write up, we haven't implemented remarketing on our site yet but this guide makes it seem very doable aliet a bit time consuming.  Thank you!

Apr 11, 2013

Hi Adnan,A bit time consuming at the beginning, but once implemented it's very easy to manage.  Glad you found this helpful!Tony

Apr 11, 2013

How is this working for service businesses that sell a larger ticketed item?also can google help create generic service business ads, not product? I find that hard for them to do, but I am curious. It is a pain creating a ton of different ads for a service business. An example, exterior painting, kitchen remodeling etc.

Apr 11, 2013

Hi David,At this point, dynamic remarketing will only work for sites that have a product feed.  It's definitely a pain creating multiple ads, but I suspect that this is only the first phase of this type of remarketing for Google.  I know there are other betas in the works, so hopefully something rolls out that could pull content and images directly from your pages.We'll keep you posted on what rolls out next.

Dewaldt Huysamen
Apr 11, 2013

It is just such a pity that Google Merchant is not yet available for South Africa, so most of the features and ad extensions like product ad extensions, mean nothing to us :-(

Apr 11, 2013

Unfortunately, Google hasn't rolled out Merchant Center globally yet.  ShoeMe.ca is in Canada, and Merchant Center is just getting rolled out and integrated with AdWords there, so I suspect the global roll out to continue.  This is definitely the future of Google's remarketing, so I'm certain it will reach you soon... 

Ty Whalin
Apr 11, 2013

Just the simple fact this is a free service offered by Google inside of AdWords is fantastic. High praise to Google. Although these other companies that sell this type of service might not be so happy, this gives the little guy's a better chance. Well written and laid out article. Good details, snapshots and set of instructions.

Apr 11, 2013

Hi Ty,Glad you found it helpful.  Considering the Google Display Network is about 85% of all available display ad inventory, definitely worth going the Google route for any business.   

Shikha Upadhyay
Dec 29, 2016

What happens in case when item ID in feed list is not present ?

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