Remarketing and Retargeting in Google Ads and Facebook Advertising: A Complete Guide

If you're familiar with remarketing, you're probably aware of the potential of this tool.

If you're not familiar with it, you've probably become aware of it when you've logged into a site, maybe looked at a particular product or even added it to your cart, and then found yourself with an advertisement for that product following you everywhere, as the cartoon below ironically exemplifies:

If you enter a site like Amazon, Hoepli, Il Giardino dei Libri and many others you can directly experience this tool, which basically tracks your visit thanks to the cookies saved in your browser (about this you can read How to Generate a Cookie Policy: The 2 Best Tools for Your Site (Free, in Italian, also for WordPress): Iubenda and Nibirumail) and potentially follows you everywhere in your browsing experience.

Remarketing or retargeting, from an end user perspective, can be quite invasive, as confirmed by statistics published on InskinMedia, according to which remarketing can be tedious, intrusive and even upsetting:

remarketing statistics

On the other hand, this tool can be extraordinarily effective in dealing with a phenomenon that is both physiological and deleterious, namely the fact that the vast majority of those who enter your site will leave without converting.

It's the one that in another post, dedicated to the 3 Best Strategies to Connect with Your Site Visitors (Before They Leave Without Converting) I referred to as "the hard truth."

The majority of visitors leave the site without converting

The hard truth? The vast majority of visitors to your site will abandon it without converting.

Did you know that according to one statistic, 97% of visitors to an ecommerce abandon it without converting?

Or that the 67% of they will simply purchase at a later date?

Or rather, he will if he returns to the site to do so.

A study by Gleanster Research confirms that up to 50% of qualified visitors (targets or prospects) to a site are not ready to buy.

Of the remaining 50% the first half (25%) are not interested, the other half are ready to buy.

Unlike the other two methods of connecting your user (email request and Like on a Facebook page or other social profile), where the user has to decide whether or not to connect to you by giving you his email and his like, in remarketing the process is automatic: when the user accesses the site where you have placed your tag, your remarketing code, tracking is triggered (except in special cases), as illustrated by this Sitescout image:


But what are the goals we can achieve with remarketing? According to a statistic published by Chango/Digiday:

retargeting remarketing targets

In addition, according to research published in MarketingLand, retargeting can increase CTR by 3-10x over industry averages.

But let's start talking about remarketing and retargeting trying to understand what they are, so their meaning and definition, distinguishing remarketing from what is often used as a synonym, that is retargeting.

Remarketing VS Retargeting: a definition and meaning

Although the two terms remarketing and retargeting are often used to mean the same thing, in the original definition the 2 terms mean different things:

  • For remarketing typically refers to the process of re-engaging customers through theemail marketingas is the case, for example, when the ecommerce send emails in cases like thecart abandonment;
  • for retargeting Instead, it typically means the display of advertisements to a user who has previously visited a page of the site or performed a certain conversion action.

Despite this definition, Google itself uses the term "remarketing" to refer to what for all intents and purposes is retargeting.

In this article we will use the terms remarketing and retargeting as synonyms, following the use that is made in the Italian language.

The 4 main steps of a retargeting campaign

Regardless of the tool you use, the steps of creating a retargeting campaign remain essentially the same. A nice image, taken from, shows us the 4 main steps of a retargeting campaign:

  1. at the beginning of the process we have a user landing on your website;
  2. the same visitor abandons it, usually without converting;
  3. once they have entered your site, thanks to a retargeting code, you have tracked the user, to whom you will show a targeted ad;
  4. thanks to this announcement, the user will be able to return to the site he abandoned.

The 2 main sites where to do remarketing or retargeting

As much as you can remarket or retarget on a large number of sites (including Linkedin ADS), in this guide we will focus on the 2 main and most used forms:

At this point we are going to analyze in detail how to create a retargeting campaign just these 2 tools seen: Google Adwords e Facebook Advertising.

How to remarket with Facebook Advertising

To implement a remarketing or retargeting campaign with Facebook Ads you need to use Custom Audiences, which we have discussed in depth in this article: Facebook Advertising Audience: Complete Guide + 12 Strategies to Increase CTR and Conversions

Log into your Facebook Ads account and go to Tools > Public from the main menu.

Now click on "Create Public".

custom similar audience saved facebook ads

You have 3 types of Audience available, of which the 3 most interesting for our topic are:

  • the Custom Audience, which allows you to do retargeting;
  • The Similar Audience: once you've created a retargeting list, you can create another list of like-minded people;

Then select "Custom Audience":

As you can see from the image, you have 3 options: the one we are interested in is Website visits.

personalized audience remarketing

At this point you will need to create a Facebook pixel, which is a code that will be placed on all pages where you want to track users for remarketing.

Once you've done that, all you have to do is create an Audience who has visited your site or a series of pages in a given time frame:

 create remarketing audience

How to remarket with Google Ads

As we saw above, Google calls its retargeting "remarketing," which you implement from Google Ads.

There are basically 3 ways to do on Google Adwords remarketing or retargeting:

  • display: shows users who have visited our website our ads on various sites in the Display network;
  • search: shows users who have visited our website our ads in their Google searches;
  • Dynamic: show ads to users who have visited certain products in our ecommerce.

Once in your account, access the Shared Library at the bottom left and once inside click on "Audience Segments":

audience egments remarketing google adwords

By opening the drop-down menu "remarketing list" you will find various options:

  • Website visitors - allows you to create a list from your retargeting code that you have placed on your website;
  • App Users - allows you to remarket to people who have installed your APP;
  • Customer Emails: this feature, very similar to Facebook's Custom Audience, allows you to upload an email list and direct ads to users who have it.

Let's look at the "Website Visitors" option.

list for google adwords remarketing

Once you have clicked on "Website Visitors", you will select "visitors to a page with a specific tag" from the "Who to add to your list" drop-down menu:

new list for google adwords remarketing

At this point you can select how long people will be on your remarketing list (by default the setting is 30 days, you can go up to 540 for the Display Network) and generate the tag by clicking on "New Tag", tag that you will insert in the pages of the site where you want to track users

Retargeting or dynamic remarketing

There is another form of remarketing, dynamic remarketing.

What does it consist of? In showing to users who have visited, for example, a particular product in our ecommerce, ads related to that product:


Dynamic remarketing can be enabled with:

  • Facebook Advertising;
  • Google Ads.

In both cases you will need to create lists of data feeds to enter into the platform.

A useful resource to learn more about remarketing and retargeting in Google Ads are the slides AdWords Remarketing and Retargeting: instructions for use by Gianpaolo Lorusso:


Let's recap the topics seen so far.

We started with nature double-sided remarketing: on the one hand an indispensable tool to connect to the user who enters the site and abandons it without converting, perhaps after adding a product to the cart, on the other hand a tool often perceived as invasive by the user who suffers it.

Remarketing, in addition to being a way to get the user back to the site they abandoned, can also be a vehicle, direct or indirect, of brand awareness as demonstrated by the statistics above.

We have also seen how to implement a retargeting campaign with Facebook Advertising's Personalized Audience and Google Ads' 3 types of remarketing, which allows us to reach users on Google searches, on sites belonging to the Display Network.

And finally, dynamic remarketing, a function that allows us to show the user exactly the product they visited on our ecommerce site.

How about you? Have you used any of these forms of remarketing? Let's talk about it in the comments!

Want to optimize the performance of your Google ad campaigns, increasing conversions and decreasing costs? Contact me for a Google Ads Consulting or a Google Ads Course tailored to your business.

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