How to Set Up Dynamic Remarketing in Google AdWords Via Google Tag Manager

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Imagine that you’re a tough IT specialist with a long beard and a bunch of tattoos, like "If Harley Davidson made a laptop you would own one." Long ago you forgot to switch to an incognito mode in Google Chrome while you were looking for a definite product and visited a lot of websites for that purpose. Later you decided to show your friends a funny video but the first thing they saw was an ad with a twerking guy wearing pink boots (or whatever you were looking for some time ago). The first thing you think is "woah, that’s uncomfortable!" However, then you understand that a 30% discount on pink boots is a bargain and you should take them. In general, this is how dynamic remarketing works. The only thing that makes it different from usual remarketing is that the person, who visited the online store, will see specific ads with a certain set of products viewed before.

Alongside specific ads, dynamic remarketing has such advantages as automatic ad updating and broad options for audience segmentation. For example, you can create a list of users who added products to the cart but haven’t completed a purchase. You can also create a list of users that viewed products costing more than $100, and so on.

Here are some examples when you can persuade your customers with the help of dynamic remarketing:

  • A user visited your website and read a description of a product or a service.
  • A user added the product to the cart or left the check out page without making a purchase.
  • A user was looking for your products via search engines.
  • A customer bought something on your website and you would like to offer some accessories or similar products.
  • A customer bought a product that required updates or extra services like, say, battery replacement.

In this article, we’ll tell you:

How dynamic display ads look in Google AdWords

Google AdWords provides responsive ads. It’s a template, and you need to add a picture, company name, website, heading, and text. As a result, you’ll get 6 ads of different types. The AdWords system will show an ad of a definite resolution according to a device:

Keep in mind that you can’t change the format of a responsive AdWords ad.

When you need dynamic remarketing

To understand if you need dynamic remarketing, use the Path Length report in Google Analytics. For that, navigate to "Conversions" → "Multichannel".

Path Length report in Google Analytics

You can have a look at how many conversions resulted from conversion paths that contained only 1 channel interaction. If the rate is less than 30%, your website is in desperate need of dynamic remarketing. If the rate is less than 50%, we recommend using dynamic remarketing, and if the rate is less than 65%, you should still try dynamic remarketing. In case the conversion value is 95-100%, it’s time to wake up, you must be dreaming! You can check if your GA settings are correct, because such conversion rates are unreal!

Anyways, if your dynamic remarketing is set up correctly, you’ll get the highest conversion rates among all advertising types of the display network. For example, Netshoes managed to increase revenue by 30% and ROI by 20%, using dynamic remarketing.

How to set up dynamic remarketing in Google AdWords

Before setting up dynamic remarketing, enable remarketing and advertising reporting features in GA. You’ll also need to link your GA and AdWords accounts. After that, you can proceed to setting up dynamic remarketing. Here are the four steps you should follow:

  1. Create a feed and upload it to Google AdWords.
  2. Tag your website for dynamic remarketing.
  3. Set up audiences for dynamic remarketing.
  4. Create ads and start campaigns.

Google Merchant Center is a great tool for dynamic remarketing, as it allows you to upload data about products to AdWords and other Google services. There are two ways to set up dynamic remarketing: using Merchant Center and not using it. Both ways are pretty similar, however, there are some differences: the key that you send in code, and where to upload the feed — straight to AdWords or to Merchant Center. Using Merchant Center has a set of advantages:

  • An extra line of text in your ad.
  • Ads are approved much faster.
  • Templates for each business type: Education, Flights, Hotels and rentals, Jobs, Local deals, Real estate, Retail, Travel.
  • Ability to show paid Shopping ads Ads on Google and around the web where potential customers can see what you’re selling .

In case your country is not on the Merchant Center list, no worries! We’ll tell you how to set up dynamic remarketing without it.

Step 1. Create a data feed with necessary attributes

Feed is a table in CSV, TSV, XLS or XLSX formats with the data on your products and services. Google AdWords uses feeds to update information on products that your website visitors were interested in.

A feed should contain the following attributes: product ID, product page URL and product photo URL. You can also add these parameters to the table: name, category, price, discount, etc. Moreover, you can use 12 extra attributes along with the standard 7, including similar identifiers for cross selling. You can find more information on how to create a feed here.

Below is the example of a feed structure:

Data feed in AdWords with all necessary attributes

Let’s say that your online store provides a wide range of products, including daily commodities. If you know for sure when your customers are going to need a certain product again, we recommend you create multiple data feeds and to group products according to the "Consumption Speed" parameter. This will help you target dynamic remarketing at people who buy products from your lists within a set time period (540 days max).

When the feed file’s ready, you only need to upload it to Google AdWords. To do that, go to the "Setup" menu → "Business data" → "Data feeds", and click on a "+" icon to add a feed. Next, choose "Dynamic display ad feed" and select your business type:

Uploading feed to Google AdWords

Now you need to enter a feed name and upload the feed from your computer. After that you’ll see a notification about how many products were added or updated. If there’s an error in the file, you’ll receive a notification and get a chance to download the error report.

Below is the list of most common mistakes while working with data feeds in Google AdWords:

  1. Invalid URL.
  2. Invalid or missing feed attributes.
  3. Duplicate key of the feed element.

Here’s how the error notifications look when uploading the feed:

Errors when uploading feed

If your feed contains only a few mistakes, you can correct them in the interface by yourself. Otherwise, you’ll have to reupload the feed with the proper data.

Having uploaded the feed, AdWords will take some time to approve the feed. No ads will be displayed before the approval, but it normally takes up to 3 working days. In case you’ve waited for more than 7 days, we recommend you to call the AdWords hotline.

Step 2. Tag your website for dynamic remarketing.

To find out which products, product prices and page types were viewed by customers, you need to add a dynamic remarketing tag to each of the website pages you’d like to track. There are four ways to do that:

  1. Standard AdWords tag. More details here.
  2. Standard AdWords tag and Google Tag Manager. We’ll give more details below.
  3. Google Analytics and "Custom parameters". Follow this link to learn more.
  4. Google Analytics and Google Tag Manager. To get more information, you need to visit the Tag Manager Help website.

It is better to use option 3, if you already have these parameters in GA: product ID, product price, number of products, IDs of similar products, all product identifiers and the total amount of money at the "Add to Cart" and "Checkout" pages. However, option 3 is not good for search remarketing. In this article we’ll give more details on how to use Google AdWords and Google Tag Manager for dynamic remarketing.

To begin with, you need to add the necessary parameters to the AdWords tag. For that, navigate to the "Shared library" → "Audience manager" → "Audience sources" → "AdWords Tag":

Adding attributes to the tracking tags

Now open the tag settings and click on "Collect specific attributes or parameters to personalize ads", then choose your business type, and save changes. After that you’ll get the 4 variables in your tag: page type, product ID, price and a custom parameter. For some business types that depend on the dates, like flights, you’ll have to add 2 more variables: flight start date and end date.

Next, you need to add the updated AdWords tag to your website. This can be done manually or using Google Tag Manager. If you’re using DataLayer in GTM, you already have all the necessary data, so you simply need to find it and create a tag. If there isn’t enough data, say, the page type is missing, create multiple tags. Then add the page type by yourself and set up the activation rules. We’ve already written a detailed manual on how to set dynamic remarketing via GTM. Simply enter your email address and we’ll send it straight to your inbox.

Step 3. Set up audiences for dynamic remarketing.

Before you start an ad campaign, you’ll need to create the lists for dynamic remarketing. This means that you need to specify the audience to view the dynamic banners. To do that, go to the "Shared library" → "Audience manager" → "Audience lists".

By default, AdWords creates a standard list of all the users that visited website pages with remarketing tags:

Creating remarketing lists in AdWords

You can add your own lists by clicking on the "+" icon. To enhance the capacities of dynamic display ads, you need to segment the audience according to certain parameters. For example, the "Recently Viewed Products Price" parameter can help you understand which users viewed expensive products. Moreover, you can choose only the users that left at the "Add to Cart" page within the last 14 days. You can set up practically any audience list:

Setting up audiences for remarketing

Probably, the top class way to create audience lists will be using OWOX BI and Google BigQuery. These tools can help you easily create user cohorts and set up ad campaigns for each of the cohorts, specify bids and view frequency. After the campaign start you’ll be able to evaluate the real input of your ad channels and optimize costs, using OWOX BI Attribution.

Step 4. Start dynamic remarketing in Google AdWords

First you need to create an ad campaigns. To do that, navigate to "Campaigns" and click on the "+" icon. Then choose "New campaign" and "Display". Now click on the "Create a campaign without a goal" sign, choose the "Standard display campaign", and click "Continue".

Creating a dynamic remarketing campaign

Set up all the necessary campaign parameters, and choose "Continue". You’ll see the next widow open. Scroll down and click on the "Additional settings". In the "Dynamic ads" section tick "Use a data feed for personalized ads":

Choosing a data feed when creating a campaign

Next, in the "Audiences" section choose the audience you need:

Then you need to create an ad group and an ad. There are 4 ad formats: top ad formats, image ad formats, text ad formats and native ad formats. All of them are responsive and contain one or multiple ads with a shared text and image:

Ta da! You’re done setting up your ads!

What to do if dynamic remarketing won’t work after setting everything up

Start with data collection in tags. For that you need to navigate to "Audience manager" → "Audience sources". There’s a chance that the data isn’t collected or the most important parameter, product ID, is not sent. In this case you’ll see an error in the AdWords tag or in the Google Analytics tag.

You also need to make sure that the products are approved in the feed:

Check if the campaign and group are enabled:

In case dynamic remarketing still doesn’t work, you should call the AdWords hotline.

Now you know all about how to set up dynamic remarketing and probably want to start setting it up ASAP. Don’t hesitate to ask your questions in the comment section, we’ll be happy to answer them!


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  • How can businesses set up dynamic remarketing in Google AdWords?

    To set up dynamic remarketing in Google AdWords, businesses must first create a Google Merchant Center account and set up product feeds. They can then create a dynamic remarketing campaign within AdWords, which will target users who have previously interacted with their website or app.
  • How is dynamic remarketing different from normal remarketing?

    Dynamic remarketing uses personalized product recommendations and tailored messaging to capture a user's interest rather than generic remarketing ads. Additionally, dynamic remarketing ads are created dynamically based on a user's previous behavior on a website, making them highly relevant to the user's interests.
  • What is dynamic remarketing in Google AdWords?

    Dynamic remarketing is an advertising feature offered by Google AdWords that allows businesses to display personalized ads to users who have previously visited their website or used their app.