In AdWords, I have found that conservative bid adjustment work best for most settings within the account. For device, location, and ad schedule I will usually use minor positive bid adjustments +5-10%  and usually stronger negative adjustments -15-50%. There is one area of the account where I have found that higher bid adjustments are really effective. Over the years, I have learned to go easy with many of the automated settings to avoid wasteful spending. However, the RLSA adjustments are the one exception to this rule.

In several of my accounts, we have gradually increased the RLSA bids and now some of my accounts have positive modifiers between 60 – 300%. The account goals are often taking into consideration when we are bidding this aggressively. Usually, I like to start with a lower RLSA bid modifier and continue to make bid increases based on performance.

If you have not added RLSA Audiences to your campaigns or Adgroups, now is the time to start. If you have already added them to your campaigns or adgroups, you may want to check the performance and determine if you should start increasing your bids. The holidays are just around the corner and this is an excellent time to start thinking about fine-tuning your RLSA audiences. Also, don’t forget that you can also add RLSA audiences in Bing.

Search Remarketing

One account, increasing the RLSA bids between 80 -100% improve their conversion volume and their revenue. In this account, their conversion volume improved significantly MoM. The $128 CPL is lower than the account average and we saw a 250% increase in volume. The Similar audience list was also added and the CPL was higher than the account average, but this audience also produced an additional $7,654 in revenue.

RLSA audience bidding example

Similar Audiences vs RLSA Audiences

Similar Audiences make up a list of users that exhibit behaviors that are similar to your website audience. Adwords system has determined that this audience is more likely to convert. It is important to keep in mind that these users have not interacted with your website. You may want to start out with conservative bids and monitor the performance of this audience regularly.

RLSA (Remarketing List for Search Ads) audiences are made up of people who have already visited your website and are still performing searches for related keywords.This activity indicates that they are still in the market or have re-entered the market. This audience is similar to Remarketing for Display except that it is designed for the Search Network.

Shopping Remarketing

These audience lists can also be added to your Shopping campaign and we have found they improved conversions for one client by 115% for one audience list and 23% for previous converters. Not only can you potentially recapture missed opportunities, but by targeting a list of previous converters who are returning to the marketplace.

RLSA audience bidding shopping example

Targeting Settings

One of the most common errors is in selecting the wrong targeting setting. If you are adding a RLSA audience to an existing campaign, you will want to set it as Bid Only. This means you will want to show if customers are searching for products/keywords and also appear for searchers in this audience lists. If you set it as Target and Bid, you are telling Adwords to display for only the searches within this audience list.

In the New Adwords Experience, to further confuse the issue, they have renamed these as Targeting and Observation. Targeting was formerly known as Target and Bid. Observation was formerly known as Bid Only to Observation. Although the word ‘Observation’ seems to imply no action, this is the setting most advertisers will want to select. Observation is also the recommended option to select.

Audience targeting settings

Target and Bid (Targeting)

One reason you might want to use Target and Bid (Targeting) is when you create a separate RLSA campaign and want to target broad terms and only appear for customers who have visited your website. This type of campaign would allow you create different ad creative for this client. For example, you could use this option for customers who have not made a purchase and are still searching and offer them a promotional offer. This may be an excellent option for the holidays to catch those last minute shoppers.

Tip: To avoid inner-account competition, you will want to add RLSA to existing campaigns or set up a separate RLSA campaign, but not both. Only use a separate RLSA campaign when you are using different keywords or want to show different ad copy.

Creating Audiences

You can use Adwords or Analytics to build out your audience lists. In Analytics you will be able to create more robust audiences. You can set up highly targeted audiences, depending on the amount of website traffic.

In order to use an audience list, it will need to have a minimum of 1,000 cookies to run.

Here are some audience list ideas:

  • All visitors
  • Specific pages
  • Specific window (7, 14, 30,…)
  • Shopping cart, but did not convert
  • Converters

How to add RLSA Audiences:

  1. Select the Audience (tab or in column)
  2. Select the pencil icon
    Audience settings
  3. Select to add the Audience at Campaign or Adgroup level
    Add the audience
  4. Choose the Campaign or Adgroup
  5. Select the Audience(s)
    Select audience
  6. Save the settings
  7. Select the desired bid adjustment
    Desired bid adjustment

Closing Thoughts

Hopefully, this has given you something to think about for this holiday season. Perhaps RLSAs will give you the opportunity to capture some additional conversions or revenue. Happy selling!