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"Similar to" Lists in AdWords Remarketing

Posted by Steve Cameron
Steve Cameron
Steve Cameron is the Director Owner of Advent Communication. With more than 25 years experience he has a deep...
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on Tuesday, 27 August 2013 in Google

When you buy a book on Amazon you get a message - People who bought this book also bought these books... it's part of the up sell.

And when you select the "artist radio" on Spotify - basically the same thing is happening - Spotify know that people who listened to Bruce Springsteen also listened to Southside Johnny & the Asbury Jukes (showing my age....)

It's called profiling and it makes sense. Through our online interaction we are telling these companies what we like, and they are responding. In their interest? Of course. But also in ours.

Google Adwords have recently started offering something similar to advertisers within the area of remarketing. Advertisers (in the main) love remarketing. someone visits your site and you can then target them with your ads as they surf other pages on the web. We explain how remarketing works in this article: Remarketing - the Ads that Follow You Around.

What Google are now doing, however, is building a complementary list based on the surfing profile of those people on your remarketing list. Here's the twenty second version.... people on your list have visited sites, A, B, C & D.... here's another bunch of people who have also visited these sites - you might want to remarket to them also.

Sounds like a plan.... so we put it into practice.

First step - let's see how many people there are on these lists:

On our "original" list we have 3,600 visitors. That's 3,600 people who have visited our site.

And we have a "Similar to" list that Google have generated of a further 220,000 people.

So how do these people respond to our advertising?

We are testing to find out and although it is still relatively early days there are some conclusions to be drawn. But first a little background. We wanted to be sure that we could tell the traffic apart, so we duplicated the remarketing campaign and then set the new copy to target the "Similar to" list. Without this safeguard there is no way (as far as we can tell) to segment the traffic in the reports - so it's important to make sure you segment by campaign.

The results in AdWords are very encouraging:

The first thing to notice is that there are plenty more impressions (this view covers a few days before the campaigns were launched, the actual numbers indicate at least a five fold increase in impressions). Whilst we're not great fans of VTC - there is little doubt that we're happy to see that many impressions of the ads - even if just for branding purposes.

Perhaps more striking, however, is the CTR - at 0.81% it is more than three times the CTR of the main remarketing campaign.

Finally, the CPC is 75% cheaper!

These are much better numbers than we might have expected, and so it was with much excitement that we switched over to Google Analytics to confirm this new gold mine.

Aaaaah, wait a second:

The story is somewhat different now.

Time on site is 12 seconds compared with 1 minute 9 seconds - and bounce rate is 91.80% compared with 71.28%

And not a single sale from 3 times the traffic.

Doesn't quite look so good when you look at it from the other side now, does it?

We are confident that "Similar to" lists can be made to work very effectively, but we will need to get to know them much better and ensure that we keep them away from our regular remarketing campaigns  otherwise they will eat all our budget and spit us out dazed and confused.

Oh - and the puppies? Well, they are similar to each other - but mostly it's just a gratuitous puppy pic....


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