Supercharge Your Account With RLSA

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RLSA, or Remarketing List for Search Ads, is a dynamite way to bring remarketing to your account to achieve ROI nirvana. RLSA is an advanced strategy that has been proven to bring efficiencies to your campaigns by understanding the value on returning visitors through remarketing across search ads.

How It Works

Remarketing in its fundamental form is to advertise to someone after they have visited your site but not completed the desired action you wished for them to take. Remarketing lists for search ads allow you to remarket to customers while they continue searching for what they need on Google search.

How It Can Be Used

Let’s take a look at a scenario on how RLSA can be used. You run an ecommerce shop that sells high-end purses. The majority of the conversions you have from you AdWords campaigns come from lower funnel specific keywords based on your product descriptions and brand names of the purses you sell. You’ve tested bidding on more generic terms in the past but without much success.

Here’s how RLSA can help. Creating an audience of visitors to your site who did not convert and layering them over a broad keyword list to bid on this audience as they search for the more general keywords.

Whereas, before when you were bidding on the term ‘purses’ you did have enough intent bidding on this keyword to be worthwhile. When you bid on a keyword like “purses” and layer an audience that has already been to your site before you’re going to find more intent when you serve that person an ad resulting in higher CTR and more conversions!

Additionally, RLSA audiences allow you to bid differently on as many different audiences that you create. If you create and audience and see that it has a 10% higher CTR then your keyword list this audience may be worth the higher bid to push more volume out of these returning visitors.

How to set it up

The first thing you will need to do is set up a remarketing list.

If you haven’t already, you’ll need to add the remarketing tag to your site to start populating audiences. Here is a quick tutorial from google on how to set this tag up.

You can create audiences in the shared library of your AdWords account. When you first create your shared audiences list you’ll see that you already have an all visitor’s audience created!

While this is a good start you’ll want to create audiences strategically to target audiences that are going to be most interested in seeing your ad a second or third time.

Add Remarketing List

To create a new list you’ll just hit add remarketing list and you’ll be brought to this drop down:
Remarketing Drop Down

Select website visitors to start creating your custom audience lists. Next you’ll be brought to a page where you will be able to create lists based on where the visitor went on your site during their visit.

A basic audience to set here would be to create an audience of visitors who visited specific category pages. To create this list fill in the URL contains bar with part of the URL of the page that you want to target.

Let’s take it back to our first example of purses. If you wanted to create an audience of visitors that have been to any page on your site that has the string purses in the URL you could simply type purses into the box and it would set your audience to visitors of pages that have “url contains purses.”

You’ll be able to name this list and add a description for reference.

The membership duration is how long the visitor will stay in this audience pool after completing the action. 30 days is a good starting point for higher level audiences.

Remarketing List

What you’ll end up with is this:


You now have your first audience ready to start populating. As people start visiting pages with the URL string that you have set as your audience parameter the list will start to populate. A minimum of 1,000 visitors that fall into your audience is needed before the list is eligible to run.

Implementation To Your Ad Groups

To implement the remarketing list into your search ad groups you will need to go back to the campaign or ad groups you want to apply the list to. Go to the audiences tab at the level you want to apply your list and select remarketing.


After you select the +remarketing button select interests and remarketing under targeting where you will be able to select the audience or audiences you want to create.

After you select your ad group you are going to want to make sure you select bid only if you will be applying this to a keyword list that will also be targeting new visitors.

Interests and Remarketing

You now have created an RLSA audience.  This should show when you go back into your audience tab of the ad group you set your audience to.

Remarketing Audience

Optimizing RLSA Audiences

Now that you have RLSA audiences set, how do you optimize these to your account’s advantage?

One of the biggest pieces of advice that is given when people set up an RLSA audience is to bid up on the audience. The logic here is that a visitor that has come to your site must be worth more to you on the second visit.

Unless you already have very good data to suggest your website visitors are worth more on the second visit you should do nothing to start. Let the data collect on how your audiences perform on the keywords lists you have applied them to dictate how you should bid.

The High Performing Audience

If the audience you set is a high performer one of the first things you can test is to see if bidding higher on this audience will allow you to capture more of this return traffic that is already familiar with your brand and see if the value increases. You set the bid adjustment at the audience level.

High Performing Audience

Here, I’ve set a 25% increase on my purses audience to hopefully capture more traffic from these returning audiences.

The Low Performing Audience

On the other side of things you could find your audience is actually a low performer. Lucky for you, you don’t need to keep wasting clicks on this audience. You are able to bid down on the audience as needed. This could help lower the cost per conversion of the audience as well as lower the CPC.

Keyword Expansion

Using your audience to expand into keywords that may be too broad for you to bid on is a great strategy to expand your reach and show ads as your audiences continue to search. You can create a new ad group with the list of keywords that you wish to target and layer your audience in the audiences tab following the above steps in the implementation section.

When you select the audience being applied at the ad group instead of choosing the standard option of bid only select target and bid. This will change the settings so that these keywords will only serve to people who are in your audience list not new searchers.

This strategy is great if you have found a high performing audience and are ready to test keyword expansion.

Negative Audiences

A final strategy that is less often used but can be beneficial if your product is a single time purchase or subscription is creating an audience of people who have converted and setting the list as a negative audience. Setting the audience as a negative list ensures that this audience will not see any ads on the ad groups you apply the negative lists to.


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