How to setup Dynamic Remarketing in Google AdWords

Setting up AdWords dynamic remarketing using Google Tag Manager, WordPress and WooCommerce

In this article I would like to show you how to setup dynamic remarketing using Google AdWords. Please note the outlined words! Why?

Dynamic Remarketing in general

The term dynamic remarketing in general was being used way before Google implemented it in its AdWords product. In general this term stands for a special kind of remarketing that uses several signals on your website to tailor the message shown to your past visitors without the need to create several or maybe hundreds or thousands of unique ad copies.

Dynamic remarketing is actually helpful (and because of that being mostly utilized) in e-commerce where there are lots of products or offers on a webpage with prices and availability varying daily which makes managing those campaigns almost impossible by hand.

There are several advertising platforms out there where you can access dynamic remarketing features but the way (the algorithm) a platform implements varies a lot. Some of them are collecting several signals like cart additions, checkouts and purchases, others are “simply” keen of the product ID a visitor was seeing. In my experience there is no correlation in between the conversion rate and the signals being used by a platform. Some platforms can collect user behavior data without further tagging on your website.

Dynamic remarketing in Google AdWords

AdWords first introduced dynamic remarketing for retail businesses who had to open a Merchant Center account first and list their products there using a feed. For a long period of time this was the only dynamic remarketing solution in AdWords which excluded several other kinds of e-commerce businesses from “the game” (like hotels, flight ticket services and so on).

It is also important to know that Merchant Center and therefore dynamic remarketing for retails is still not available in many countries like my home country, Hungary. (Hey Google, I hope you see the message between the lines 😉 )

In the past years, Google introduced a revamped dynamic remarketing solution which allowed other verticals to get in and start doing remarketing in a more sophisticated way.

AdWords uses several signals to make sure you message is being shown to more prospect users:

  • view product in a product list
  • visiting a product detail page
  • the express of the user for conversion (like entering the checkout funnel)
  • conversions of users

Because of this Google can gather a quite robust list about your products and about which product can be sold quicker and what could be the alternatives for a product or what are the cross-sell opportunities.

Setting up dynamic remarketing using my plugin and WooCommerce

Currently my Google Tag Manager plugin supports WooCommerce to easily setup dynamic remarketing for several products, including Google AdWords.

The first step is to enable this feature in the settings of the plugin on the admin area:

Enabling Dynamic Remarketing in GTM plugin settings

There are two options related to this feature:

  • the first enables the necessary tagging on your site
  • the second instructs the plugin to include product SKUs while tagging and not product IDs

For this second line you might need further explanation.

Product IDs are actually WordPress post IDs which are unique to each product. Products in WooCommerce are actually special kind of posts with several additional settings which transfers those posts to real products with prices and stock info and so on… But product IDs are generated automatically by WordPress and they does not follow the system you use in your own inventory tracking system.

SKU is also a special setting in WooCommerce where you can enter your own product IDs, your own product identifiers (aka. stock keeping units).

So why is there an option to be able to use SKUs instead of product IDs and why should you care about this? Because tagging your site is only half of the work, after you complete this guide you still have to get an other plugin which creates the necessary product feed for you that has to be uploaded to Merchant Center (for retail businesses) or directly to AdWords (for other verticals). Most feed plugins use the product ID in the feed to identify your products but some use the SKU you enter on a WooCommerce product page. Important is that you use the same identifier for your feed and for your tagging so that AdWords can match products in your feed to the products viewed by your visitors.

Setup variables in Google Tag Manager for retails

If you are a retail seller, you will need to add three new GTM variables on the GTM website in your container. Click on the Variables section on the left and press the New button:

Dynamic Remarketing: Create new GTM variable

Enter the name ecomm_prodid into the first field on the page then select Data Layer Variable from the Choose type list and enter ecomm_prodid again to the Data Layer Variable Name field. After this, hit the Create Variable button:

Dynamic Remarketing: creating the ecomm_prodid variable

Now repeat this with the following variable names as well:

  • ecomm_pagetype
  • ecomm_totalvalue

If you already have an AdWords Remarketing tag in your GTM setup which is triggering on all pages, you will need to open it for editing, others should go and create a new AdWords Remarketing tag. In its settings you will see a Custom Parameters section where you will need to select Manually specify. Here you have to add three new lines and enter the above mentioned three variable names and select the corresponding GTM variables next to them:

Dynamic Remarketing: add to remarketing tag

Save the new settings and publish your modified container.

That’s it: you are now sending proper signals to Google AdWords about what users are doing on your site while browsing. But as I said, this is only half of the tasks you have to do: you will need to obtain an other plugin that can generate a proper product feed for Merchant Center.

Setup variables in Google Tag Manager for other verticals

For those who are using WordPress and WooCommerce to sell other kind of products or services like hotel stays or flight tickets, you can also use my plugin to setup dynamic remarketing. In this case, the name of variables change.

First, you will still have to create the three Data Layer Variables mentioned in the previous step. So go and name and create them as described above. The only difference is that you will need to use different names while adding them to your AdWords remarketing tag. There is a list of custom parameter names on the AdWords help center for each supported vertical: flights, education, hotels, jobs, local deals, real estate and travel.

There is even a vertical called “custom” which is suitable for everyone not listed above. Retail companies in countries like mine where Merchant Center is still not available (khm… Google.. you now… my message… between the lines…) usually use this custom setting to setup dynamic remarketing although officially this is not the right choice for retails but it is better than nothing 🙂

So go and check this help article for what variable names you have to use in the following step. For my example I will use the names for hotels and rentals:

  • hrental_id
  • hrental_pagetype
  • hrental_totalvalue

Note that there are some other optional variables in the AdWords help article: hrental_startdate, hrental_enddate. Currently, those are not supported by my plugin.

Now you only have to change the key names compared to the settings shown in the previous step for retails:

Dynamic remarketing: add to remarketing tag for other verticals

That’s it, publish your new Google Tag Manager container version and you are done. Almost… as you still have to add a plugin that creates a different kind of feed.