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Don't Get Caught in the RLSA Trap

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 Wednesday, 12 February 2014 in Google

Are you using your remarketing lists to target search (RLSA) - if you're not, you should be. It can be extremely effective.

But in light of recent site policy changes made by Google don't get caught in the same trap we fell into!

We have a client with a cancer clinic. It's a specific type of cancer that they treat, so our campaigns are highly targeted.

But, following Google's very sensible advice, our RLSA campaigns are not so restrictive - in fact, our RLSA campaigns uses the BMM keyword +cancer - after all, if someone has previously visited our page then we know the type of cancer they are interested in.

However, as we reported here a couple of weeks ago - a number of our remarketing lists (actually all of them) were suddenly disapproved by Google as a result of changes in the enforcement of their site policies and the way in which some verticals are now being viewed. And here's where things took an unexpected turn.


With the targeted lists removed, Google simply relied on our BMM keywords - and the ads began appearing to anyone searching for these keywords - and not just the pre-selected group of our remarketing list.

Luckily we spotted this quickly - and after a couple of conversations with our Google reps they have realized that this is another nasty side effect of the site policy changes and their impact on remarketing lists - but there is little they can or will do about the money which we have spent over the past week or so since this change was imposed upon us.

As it happens we have been lucky - on the one hand because we caught it quickly and on the other because we actually generated a couple of decent conversions from that campaign - but our experience should serve as a warning to other account managers - what you think might happen when a list is disapproved - i.e. that campaigns targeting that list will simply stop triggering ad impressions, is not what happens in reality - i.e. your highly targeted campaign gets opened up to everyone and their cousin!

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