Remarketing Lists for Search Ads (RLSA) is a feature within the Google paid search, which provides an option for re-marketing of search ads. RLSAs are a collection of data that allows you to approach users who visited a website with search ads. This keeps customer contact up, may cause customers to make a purchase, and the bids for keywords in the AdWords account can be adapted and more effectively controlled.

General information[edit]

If a user visits an AdWords ad site, this visit is registered by Google Tracking and stored on a remarketing list. The RLSA is utilized to address already counted visitors with search ads, even if their website visit was months ago. Remarketing Lists for Search Ads are generally in conjunction with Google’s search results, while other remarketing campaigns are primarily focused on the Google Display Network. RLSAs can therefore be distinguished from retargeting or traditional remarketing.[1]

Since website visitor lists are connected with a Google account, they will be similar, but the RLSAs also includes segmented search ads. If a user searched for a particular product on a website and expressed their interest in purchasing, RLSAs can show him appropriate ads for this product when he uses Google search. Unlike traditional remarketing, RLSAs can be referred to as dynamic remarketing because the ads are oriented to the interests of users, context, and target audience within the framework of extended Google AdWords campaigns.

RLSAs are thus a channel that approaches users whose purchasing behavior differs from that of regular visitors. Users who have visited a site or searched for products tend to have higher conversion rates. RLSA focuses on users who are already sales-ready, thus most likely to make a purchase. According to Google, revenue can be significantly increased with RLSAs.

How it works[edit]

Before RLSAs can be used, you have to create a remarketing list. A code snippet must be inserted to ensure proper tracking. The latter is referred to as a remarketing tag by Google. It is used as part of AdWords. The remarketing tag records each visitor to the website on a list. As the next step, the remarketing list (which can be found under Target Groups in AdWords) gets added to an ad group to tailor the keywords, bids, and ad copy to the target audience. The campaign type should be set to “Search Network Only (All features)” because remarketing lists are not available on other campaigns.

The following setting is also important: in the targeting settings “Bid only” can be selected under “Target and bid.” It is recommended to use old or new ad campaigns. For old campaigns, the “Bid only” check box ensures that regular ads will continue to be displayed in the paid search. For new campaigns, the “Target and bid” setting restricts the target audience to users who have already visited your website. The setting for bids on keywords is optional and different strategies can be followed. For example, bids on generic keywords entered by users who have already visited your website can be set higher.

The effect of Remarketing Lists for Search Ads is that only users who have visited the website will see ads in the search. Other users who do not meet the prerequisites will not see these ads. A minimum number of list entries is an important limitation for RLSAs. The RLSA will only become active once there are 1000 entries in the form of stored cookies. The reason given for this by Google is privacy. If you want to use remarketing lists, the site owner should start as early as possible.

Remarketing Lists for Search Ads example[edit]

A user searches for the term “sneakers” on the Internet and visits a website that offers such shoes. He views a corresponding category on the website. The tracking function registers this user and adds him to a remarketing list. The user leaves the website and does not make a purchase, but RLSAs now make a new type of customer loyalty possible.

For example, if he uses the Google search to search for “sneakers” once again, the RLSA will display targeted search ads, where bids for this keyword are higher than for a regular search for a generic keyword. The term “sneakers” as such, is a generic keyword as well, but the searcher has already been registered as a website visitor and may have an increased interest in buying sneakers on that website.

Relevance to online marketing[edit]

Remarketing Lists for Search Ads are a special tool that allows the precise targeting of campaigns. Focusing on potential buyers who are likely to trust a website because they have already visited it may result in a higher conversion rate. Google’s beta tests confirmed this already before the launch. An online tire dealer was able to increase their conversion rate by 161% and its total turnover by 22% through the use of RLSAs. RLSAs should therefore not be underestimated as a scalable, dynamic remarketing tool, especially when coupled with extensive AdWords expertise on how to strategically align campaigns.


  1. RLSA – 10 Step Google Search Remarketing Setup Guide for AdWords. searchenginepeople.com. Accessed on 10/15/2014

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