When you look back at the “family tree” of AdWords’ various features, you may stumble across the birth of one of the platform’s most loved campaign types: Remarketing.

Born in March 2010, Remarketing has been a key asset for millions of advertisers worldwide – allowing them to target users on the Display network who had visited their site previously (though this targeting has advanced significantly since then). Never before could you target individuals with such refined grace.

Dr. Evil Remarketing Meme

If only you could target those same audiences on the Search network… Just think of the possibilities!

Enter Remarketing’s “little brother”: Remarketing Lists for Search Ads.

Born in July 2013, Remarketing Lists for Search Ad (RLSA) campaigns function similarly to Remarketing campaigns, but on the Search network. This means that users will only see your ads if they:

  1. Have visited specified pages on your site, and
  2. Are on the Google search engine results page.

While Remarketing is a widely known tool, RLSAs tend to live in the shadow of their older counterpart. As the youngest of four kids, I am no stranger to competing with older siblings for attention (or filling the role of annoying little brother), so I feel for RLSA campaigns. #solidarity

Are RLSAs Effective Compared to Display Remarketing?

If I had to choose one thing to knock RLSA campaigns for, it would have to be their name. I can’t count the number of times I’ve flubbed the delivery and said, “RSLA.”

Pro Tip: If you’re a big fan of children’s horror books from the 90s (and seriously, who isn’t?), or if you just need an easy way to remember the correct acronym, think of R.L. Stine. You’re welcome.

In my mind, that’s where the negatives stop. The campaign is super easy to set up. Just add your audience list to a Search campaign and change the targeting setting to Targeting.

The greatest thing about RLSAs is that they allow you to bid on extremely general keywords since you are qualifying users via the list attached to the term.

For example: If you own an office furniture store, you might bid on “conference table” as a keyword. With a traditional search campaign, you would want to avoid a general keyword like “table” because it will be ultra-competitive and is too broad of a term. With RLSA campaigns, you can bid on a keyword like “table” but only show ads to users who reached your conference table web page.

You might be thinking, “No way! Doesn’t that still bring in irrelevant traffic and waste money?” Not so fast…

Last Spring, we tested RLSAs (with a strategy like the above example) vs. Remarketing through the end of FY17, and the results were telling. (Note: This client’s FY starts in August.)

  • 107% increase in Clicks
  • 2445% higher CTR!
  • Conversion Rate was 12% higher
  • Conversions increased 133%
  • Cost was 149% higher, but the increase in conversions offset spend – cost per conversion was only 7% higher overall

Not too shabby for Remarketing’s little brother!

Dr. Evil Little Brother Meme

While you may not see results as extreme as ours, there is at least a case to be made for testing RLSA campaigns in your account. At the very least, you should test them alongside traditional Remarketing to capture highly relevant users on both Search and Display. If all goes well, continue to use both!

Interested in retargeting your website traffic? See our Remarketing capabilities to learn how we can help.