Skip to content

Display is often thought of as a solely a top-of-funnel activity, designed to reach new audiences across a wide array of platforms. However, there are just as many bottom-of-funnel uses for display that deliver excellent returns.

This article aims to clarify how this can be done and the financial benefits of utilising display in an omni-channel remarketing strategy, the result of which is maximising profit and continued revenue growth.

We talk about this a lot, but with good reason: It’s cost-effective simply because previous visitors are more likely to convert.

If your marketing budget is under strain, focusing on staying front-of-mind with those already more likely to buy results in better ROAS (Return On Ad Spend). With studies showing that cutting marketing spend during economic down-turns reduces the possibility of future growth, now is the time focus available budget on users most likely to become customers.

Remarketing or retargeting – advertising to previous visitors or customers – is primarily associated with transaction reactivation; Prompting basket-abandoners to return, form visitors to complete, quote recipients to take the next step.

But now, with economic activity on the increase, you can also deploy display remarketing creatively to prime your existing customer base – informing them of crucial changes to the way your business operates, or to let them know service is resuming.

This proactive approach means you do not have to rely on previous customers to return to your site, check in on your social accounts or check their emails to discover important updates. You’re taking your message to them wherever they happen to be browsing the web. Because you can specify that your remarketing campaign is charged via a cost-per-click model where you only play when someone clicks your ad, you could potentially achieve a large number of impressions for free depending on the size of your audience.

How it Works: Technical View

Remarketing lists leverage either cookie or contact information. You can upload a contact database directly to the advertising platform which then compares the data to user profiles in order to match the two. Alternatively, you can create a list of existing users defined by a particular page they have visited or an action they have taken (learn more about how to set up goal tracking).

To be eligible to get added to a campaign, both uploaded contact lists and page-based audiences must meet minimum size criteria:



While there is no official minimum list size, an ad set won’t run unless an audience contains >1000 users. You can combine smaller lists to meet the minimum size, but may have to reduce the extent to which your ad creative is personalised.

How it Works: Campaign Design

Your remarketing campaign could be as simple as one ad set directing clicks to a single page. You can also build content journeys, moving users between lists until they are likely to complete an action. At its simplest, such a pathway might comprise of a linear progression through website content that promotes a product or service’s different benefits, culminating in a call-to-action.

This is also known as sequential retargeting.

More complex examples of sequential retargeting move users into alternative journeys that run parallel to the main goal, determined by other actions the user might take on the site.

This is an incredibly cost-effective way of maintaining brand awareness over the course of a lengthy purchase process (or during a hiatus in service delivery). Ideal for high-value transactions from SaaS to distance learning degree courses.

What if you don’t have the site content available to design this kind of journey, or it’s not relevant to your business? Other ways to design a remarketing campaign include:

  • Time-delay Retargeting: Create lists of users defined by how long ago they last visited the website, and tailor messaging accordingly.
  • Page Value Retargeting: Identify your highest value products and focus budget on remarketing to visitors to these pages that did not bounce.
  • SEO Value Retargeting: If your goal is to improve organic ranking potential for a particular topic, you can create a list of visitors who have viewed content within that topic and refine the list only to include page views over a certain duration, e.g. more than 30 seconds. Then, use topic-based content remarketing to improve brand recall and increase repeat visitors and engagement in your target niche.

If you’re imagining all the possibilities available to you, but baulking at the potential creative requirements, good news!

Google’s RDA (Responsive Display Ad) format relieves the burden of design somewhat, though the compromise is accepting lighter branding, limited to a logo, two custom colours and images. You provide compelling ad copy and a selection of images, and Google will arrange your assets in the right format.

We use RDAs for simple brand-awareness ads.

If you’d prefer to maintain control over all aspects of your design, here’s a link to banner ad design principles.

Using a Remarketing Campaign to Find New Users

In your Google or Facebook remarketing campaign you can also choose to reach out to new, top-of-funnel users via audience expansion. This is when the platform identifies users whose online behaviour and/or interests match those of your customers, so you’re targeting people more likely to buy into your service. (A quick warning: When you set up Google display remarketing, you’ll automatically be opted-in to targeting expansion unless you specify otherwise.)

If you include audience expansion in a remarketing campaign, bear in mind that your ad creative will need to be generic enough to accommodate both new users and existing ones. Remember you can always adapt your remarketing pathway to send these two groups in different directions by creating audiences with specific rules.

Other important tips:

  • A crucial factor in an effective, multi-step remarketing pathway, is that a user is excluded from seeing an ad they’ve already clicked on, so they always see the next step rather than one they may have already completed.
  • In terms of campaign structure, smaller less complex pathways with a single goal can be created at ad-group level. For larger audiences with multiple goals, creating a different campaign for each goal will allow budget and impression frequency to be controlled with more refinement.
  • Improve the quality of your remarketing list by excluding users who have bounced, or who have spent less than ten seconds on the website.
  • Avoid wasting spend on accidental clicks by adding games as a topic exclusion.
  • Finally, a key takeaway specific to the current economic climate: Remarketing lets you better connect with people who were already interested in what you offer. With higher conversion rates helping your media spend go further, remarketing’s limiting factor is how creatively it’s deployed.