Every day Google is becoming smarter, and in turn making it easier for advertisers to more effectively reach their target audiences.  Now, this could be viewed as another supposed step towards world dominance as referenced in jest in some of our roundups, or merely another great and easy way to more accurately and continually reach a solid base of potential customers.  What I’m talking about is remarketing and interest-based advertising—which has been around for quite some time, but not to the degree that Google is now putting into practice.  Basically, ads can and will continue to follow you that belong to a site you just visited but didn’t convert one, and also ads will pop up that are more relevant to your browser history and less to do with the unique site that you are visiting.  To begin, the general concept of remarketing and interest category marketing will be discussed, as well as the new developments that Google is implementing to make this process easier.  Following this will be a brief how-to, with a few screenshots.  And finally, a general discussion of a few pros and cons of this new and aggressive marketing tactic will follow.  And, as usual, a few Youtube Clips will be liberally scattered throughout.

It is safe to say that Google Content Network advertising has been around for a while.  The ability to target ads based on the category of website being viewed was a huge step forward in terms of ad targeting, and continues to be a huge factor in any relevant PPC campaign.  Based on the keywords entered into a search query, as well as the type of websites that are being visited, Google will line up “relevant” ads. (I put this in quotes because every now and then Google seems to think that ads for Rogaine are relevant to me, and quite frankly its insulting as I have a full head of hair…for now).  As advertisers, we can decide to let Google choose sites based on the ad’s category, or choose them ourselves—nothing new there.

But now you can target potential customers based on whether or not they have been to your site.  Basically, if someone clicks an ad or visits your site without converting, you can add code to your pages that will remember these visitors, and will continue to target them with ads as they travel across the Google Content Network.  In addition, these won’t be the same ads that weren’t successful in converting the first time (although they can be, but that doesn’t seem like a good strategy), but can be tailored for that visitor’s preferences.

For instance, if you have a visitor who went to your retail shoe site, but didn’t convert, and you are going to offer a discount later in the day, you can tailor your ads to continue to show up for this person along the content network and alert them to the discount that you are now offering.  So, this potentially lost conversion can be re-targeted via remarketing, and can end up in a sale for your site.  Remarketing is definitely a tactic to consider pursuing.

And now Google is expanding this more “personal” strategy to be able to target specific demographic categories. Specifically speaking, the demographics that Google focuses on are age and gender.  This is determined based on browser viewing history, and based on the past few sites that the potential customer has visited, Google will offer ads that they deem relevant based on the common demographic that visits the previous sites.  So, hypothetically speaking, if a person visits many sites that a teenager typically does, Google will group them in the teen demographic and give them ads that are deemed relevant to teenagers.  So if you’re in the workforce and sick and tired of Miley Cyrus ads, well, its time to change your browser habits.

So now that we’ve covered the basics of remarketing and Google’s expansion into interest-based advertising, it’s time to cover some how-to.  In the Google Adwords Campaign Management dashboard, select your client.  In the tabs, up next to Reporting and Billing, is the “Audiences” tab.  Click on it, and you should see this:

From this screen, you can select “Add Audiences.”  And from there, you can determine which audiences to target.  Google suggests first targeting all visitors (Add All Site Visitors Option), and as long as you have a standard footer template for your site, you can add in the code you need to make this happen.  But there are several other strategies to consider.  For instance, one of the more frustrating issues for a retail site are “abandoned shopping carts.”  This is when a potential customer adds product to be purchased from your site, then bolts before the purchase (not this).  They are highly qualified, and close to a purchase, so targeting them via the Audiences tab is another strategy worth considering.  Basically, you’d create a tag on your view shopping cart or order confirmation page, and target them with an ad with a strong call to action.  These aren’t the only strategies—really you can target anyone who has visited your site that you want with the right combinations via the Audiences Tab.

So these two new additions to the arsenal of Google’s marketing strategies come with their own Pros and Cons.  The pros are obvious—your ads can be more accurately shown to potential customers with interest-based advertising, and can follow and continually target potential customers who are close to converting with remarketing.  In a nutshell, you will see more conversions.  But there is one major con that is of concern—people have recently complained of feeling stalked.  Many potential customers have raised concerns about the privacy of their internet browsing habits.  However, the Interactive Advertising Bureau has released this ad campaign to help counteract that claim, as really Google is not invading your privacy with either of these features, as Google only takes in to account recent browser history.

So, interest-based advertising and remarketing are really helping to expand the potential of your PPC campaigns.  Embrace it, and you could potentially see more conversions and clicks.