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Dynamic remarketing: not just for retailers anymore

Think dynamic remarketing is only for retailers? Think again! Columnist Laura Collins explains how non-retailers can set up these campaigns and discusses the success her agency’s clients have seen by utilizing this tactic.

It would be every advertiser’s dream for a user to convert on the first visit to their website. You’d only pay for one click; there would no need for attribution. Oh, how simple things would be!

Unfortunately, that isn’t the reality in any vertical. Whether it’s buying some shoes, getting a mortgage or requesting a product demo, people like to do their research, and in fact will very rarely convert after that first click.

But that’s not to say they won’t eventually choose to convert with you instead of your competitors — you may just need to give them a reminder. That’s where remarketing comes in.

Creating the most personalized, bespoke ad copy possible is a surefire way to yield better results in any channel, which is why dynamic remarketing, in particular, is so valuable.

For the last few years, dynamic remarketing has become a vital part of any online retailer’s marketing strategy, serving users ads dynamically populated with products that they’ve previously viewed. At my employer (Periscopix, a Merkle Company) we often see dynamic remarketing yield conversion rates up to two times higher than with standard remarketing for retail clients.

Dynamic remarketing works by linking up your Google Merchant Center (GMC) feed to a campaign and adding custom parameters to your remarketing tag which associate users with the unique IDs of the feed items they’ve viewed. When that user is later served an ad, the image, description and price of the products they’ve viewed are then dynamically inserted into the ad template.

At one time, this dynamic option was only available to retailers, as it required a GMC feed, but in October 2014, Google released dynamic remarketing across verticals. This allows non-retail advertisers to utilize what they know about user behavior on their site to create personalized ads to draw people back in.

Here, I recap how to set up these campaigns, discuss the types of clients I’ve seen benefit from them and look at some results.

How to dynamically remarket without a GMC feed

While non-retailers don’t need a GMC feed to run dynamic remarketing, you will still need to create a feed of your products or services, including attributes like images, prices or unique IDs. This essentially acts as a database of information that can be used in your dynamic ads.

You’ll need to populate the rows with products or services (e.g., different flights that a user could have viewed) and the columns with attributes like the corresponding URL and price.

Google provides feed templates tailored to different verticals, as well as a custom option for anything that doesn’t fit into their predefined business types. Once created, you can upload your feed into the “Business data” section of your AdWords shared library.

Once this feed is linked to a remarketing campaign, you are then ready to start serving people dynamic ads based on their on-site behavior.

Would this work for my business?

We’ve tried dynamic remarketing on a variety of clients at Periscopix, and while we’ve experienced a few teething problems with feed and campaign setup, there have also been some promising results.


For a client specializing in jobs in higher education, we created a feed of available job roles with attributes including job title, salary and location.

Not long after launch, the campaign was achieving a CPA (cost per action) of just £4.36, which was 30 percent lower than search. In fact, dynamic remarketing proved to be a great option for several recruitment clients, and consistently across the board, we found the CPA to be lower than that of corresponding search campaigns.

Commercial property

Another client, which rents office space across the country, built a feed with location, pricing and images for each of their office locations to dynamically target users who’d viewed a location but not requested more information.

After some initial problems with the feed, which recognized every office within the M25 (a ring road that nearly surrounds London) as just “London,” the team got the campaign working as needed and saw conversion rates 14 times higher than with standard remarketing!


A client that runs a variety of worldwide corporate events had initially tried remarketing relevant ads to people who’d viewed a specific event manually, but this proved incredibly difficult to manage.

Creating a feed with the details of each event dramatically cut the hours involved and achieved a conversion rate 146 percent higher than their standard remarketing campaign.

Final thoughts

There’s compelling evidence from our wealth of dynamic remarketing experience with retail that serving people ads based on what they’ve viewed on site significantly increases the chance that they will come back and purchase. So it’s little surprise that we’re seeing a similar pattern with other verticals.

If you’re a non-retail advertiser with a wide range of products or services, adding a dynamic campaign to your remarketing strategy could have a big positive impact on conversions. With Google’s simple-to-use feed templates and easy setup, what have you got to lose?



by Laura Collins