Settings to Re-Evaluate When Your AdWords Remarketing Campaign Stops Performing

A good ole’ Google Display Network (GDN) remarketing campaign is one of the first things we recommend firing up for new clients. The reach and power of GDN remarketing is something that’s hard to rival, in my opinion. Recently, one of my veteran accounts saw a downturn in performance in its remarketing campaign, which had previously been a leading source of leads for the account. So what happens when the campaign seems to suddenly stop performing? Here’s a couple of settings to review and questions to ask to get performance back on track.


When my remarketing campaigns start seeing lower traffic and conversion volume, I make sure to check a couple of the campaign settings.

Frequency Capping

This is found on the Settings tab within your Remarketing campaign (see below).

You can adjust your cap to be by ad, ad group or campaign per day, per week or per month. I have tested different settings before and closely monitored the campaign’s performance from week-to-week before setting a specific cap. If you haven’t had a frequency cap before, it’s better to start higher – around 100 impressions per day per campaign – than to start lower and really impact performance.

Delivery Method

This is a setting that’s also present in Search campaigns. However, making an adjustment to how your ads are delivered can also change the how the campaign performs. This is something that I’d recommend reviewing on at least a bi-quarterly basis when reviewing your campaign settings.

Standard delivery method means that Google tries to stretch your budget all day. Accelerated delivery method means that your ads are delivered more quickly. I prefer to utilize accelerated and run time of day reports to identify when my budgets are running out and then make the necessary adjustments. If you’re unsure about switching, testing can always help you find the best option for your account and campaigns.

Placement Exclusions

Regularly reviewing the automatic placement reports for your remarketing campaigns is just like regularly reviewing search query reports to identify new keywords: it’s needed for the well-being of your account. However, there can come a point with campaigns that you may have excluded TOO much traffic. I’d suggest taking a look back at the time period when performance was at a peak and see what exclusions may have been added since then. Adding a quarterly or bi-yearly task to review higher level trends in the autoplacement reports can be helpful as well.

Keep in mind that all of the sites your remarketing ads are showing on are places that your audience is actually going. Even if these placements are sometimes not ideal for general display campaigns, they could be an OK fit for remarketing. Keep a close eye on placements that have very negative associations or are very politically charged (as those could hurt your brand image over time), but maybe loosen up on some of the regular GDN placement exclusions you would add to display campaigns.

Audiences and Landing Pages

Clicking over to the Shared Library and taking a look at the audiences you’re utilizing for your Remarketing campaign efforts is another way to spot red flags. Try to identify if your lists have increased or decreased significantly in users recently. That is usually a key indicator of a performance change. Here’s some questions to consider when reviewing audiences:

  • Did the thank you pages have a recent change that this audience isn’t taking into account?
  • Have there been any large changes in targeting?
  • Did you client start a new campaign in another aspect of marketing to draw in larger audiences?
  • Has something changed to cause your audience to drastically decrease in size over the past couple of months?

Do some investigating into your audiences and landing pages. If all else fails, ask your client if they’ve made a recent change that they forgot to loop you in on.

Demographics and Different Timeframes

One of my favorite things about Display campaigns in Google is the Demographics tab. I like being able to look at the age groups and gender of the people responding to my ads, especially when a client hasn’t previously had a large PPC presence and we’re still learning more about their audience. With that being said, sometimes there are age groups or genders that are just not responding well to your ads and you need to cut them loose. However, make sure to take a look at different time periods and changes in performance before fully excluding any targeting.

It’s also important to note that seasonality can play a role in performance as well. Summer can be a slower time for a lot of advertisers, so taking a look back at previous summer performance can be helpful in determining trends and recognizing changes more easily.

Ad Group Breakouts

A best practice that I find to be helpful is organizing each audience and ad type into separate ad groups. This helps keep your data clear for what is and isn’t working. Different ad types and audiences will respond differently, and similar to Facebook, having everything mixed together can make for muddled data. If you’re seeing a downturn in performance and don’t currently have audiences and ad types broken out, now is a good time to do that. You won’t regret having more insights into your campaign performance.

Overall, when performance takes a bit of a nosedive, re-evaluating some of your settings and reviewing different timeframes can really help. Making note of when you made which changes and giving the campaign time to generate better results will also help you keep your ducks in a row. If you’re still not happy with the results: rinse, lather, repeat!

What tips do you have for making the most of your Google Remarketing campaigns? We’d love to hear your tips and tactics in the comments!