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How Should You Structure Your AdWords RLSA Campaign?

Claudio Dominguez

8 years ago



RLSA, or Remarketing Lists for Search Ads, provides yet another opportunity to optimize your search campaigns.

RLSA helps put your ads in front of highly qualified customers who have already shown interest in your business or products.

According to Wordstream, on average, RLSA campaigns have 2x higher CTRs, 50% lower CPCs and convert at twice the rate of regular search campaigns!

How Can You Use Remarketing Lists for Search Ads?

1) You can make bid adjustments on your ad groups (Existing Campaigns) for users who are actively searching for your keywords.

2) Set up new ad groups targeting only previous visitors (Remarketing List) and who are still actively searching for your keywords.

A Side Note on RLSA

People tend to believe that AdWords is expensive, (especially if you’re an SMB and recently got started advertising on Google) and that adding other efforts such as Remarketing is an added expense they cannot afford. It’s actually quite the opposite.

An RLSA campaign helps you by targeting an audience that is more relevant and potentially more profitable with the same budget, this means that you can take a more refined approach to AdWords without a “fancy pants” set up and a billion dollar budget.


RLSA Creation Scenario One

Existing Campaign

This applies to the first goal of an RLSA Campaign: Making bid adjustments at the ad group level for the audience of previous visitors while maintaining the same ad copy and campaign structure.

You need to have set up the Remarketing Tag and have the required Audience Size. To do this, create a new remarketing audience in analytics. Make sure you have analytics and AdWords linked.

1) Go to AdWords Editor (otherwise, it takes a long time to do in AdWords).

2) Select all the ad groups that you need to use as targeting, then add the Audience and Select BID.

This last part is really important, if you select Target and Bid, you will only be targeting people who are previous visitors and your traffic will drop drastically.

The video below shows what we just covered:

RLSA Creation Scenario Two

New Campaign

This applies to the Second Goal of an RLSA Campaign: Setting up new ad groups targeting only previous visitors (Remarketing List) who are still actively searching for your keywords.

Again, the Remarketing Tag should already be implemented on your site and you should have the required Audience size.

1) Go to AdWords Editor.

2) Copy/Paste your existing campaigns. Make sure to modify all keywords that are in restrictive match types (this means Phrase or Exact type). At this point you could even get Broad (Yes, plain ol Broad Keywords).

3) Evaluate the current structure and determine if there are certain ad group that you would rather exclude from your efforts (Low-Profit, Seasonal, etc.).

4) Create ads tailored to returning visitors. A best practice would be to offer a second purchase. Remember, sales and unique selling points are new to them. You do not want to attract the same visitor with an outdated message.

5) Select your Ad Groups and add the Audience. This is also where you choose to TARGET AND BID. Otherwise, you will essentially compete with your existing campaign.

6) Exclude the same Audience in your existing Search Campaign, otherwise you will (most likely) compete for the same traffic.

You now will have one campaign targeting “New Visitors” and another one targeting previous visitors.

Check out the video below for a demonstration:

Best Practices

  • Installing a Remarketing Tag on your site as soon as posible, so you can start building your audience lists.
  • Monitor your audience size and make sure you have the amount needed to run your RLSA.
  • You need to bid higher for the targeted audience vs your regular Search Campaigns. (Minimum of 1,000 active visitors).
  • Make sure to tailor your ad copy to returning visitors by offering new selling points.
  • Don’t forget basic Display Optimization points, such as Excluding Placements.
  • Target people who have already purchased. Yes! You can remarket to people using a similar product, a complementary accessory or a product that is on sale for second-time buyers only.
  • Your keyword strategy should be broader than your existing Search Campaign. Remember, you will be bidding and targeting people that have already shown interest in your services or products.
  • Know and understand the difference between Target and Bid versus Bid Only. From a setup standpoint, the difference is simple and basic, but it will save you a lot of trouble.


RLSA is a great way to bid for specific audiences that have been exposed to our brand without an extensive amount of money or a lot of time invested in creating a new Campaign Structure. Give it a try – your business will thank you for it.

If you’d like to know more about the subject or would like insights on your existing RLSA campaign, I’d be glad to answer your inquiries, all you have to do is pose your questions in the comment section.