Back in 2012, if you said RLSA audience optimisation, no one would have had a clue what you were talking about. We were all about the keyword, in fact, when it came to targeting your AdWords campaigns, words were pretty much all you had. Outside of keywords you could target/exclude locations, schedule ads to be on or off, as well as opting in or out of specific devices. Back then, that was about it.

old adwords interface


Along came enhanced campaigns and everyone was both excited and scared. Suddenly we had a wide array of settings, bid adjustments that we could alter by varying degrees. No longer did we have to simply opt in or out.

On May 22, 2013, Inside AdWords published this post. In it the AdWords team announced the launch of Remarketing Lists For Search Ads or RLSA as we more commonly call it. This was a game changer. In the past audience lists were only used to run display remarketing activity. Enticing forgotten users back to our site, showing them products or services they’d browsed and hadn’t purchased.

But… the problem with display remarketing is that by its very nature, it’s interruptive. Ads are popping up when users are trying to do something else. Maybe they’re reading an article, or trying to book train tickets on a tight schedule. Meanwhile, we’re showing them some awesome trainers we assume they just ‘forgot’ to buy.

Why we need RLSA Audience Optimisation

The beauty of RLSA is that we can combine the insight that we have from a user being in our audience list with the intent of them actively  making a search. Insight + Intent = Super powerful targeting.

Yet many people still aren’t using RLSA’s to their full potential. In fact, we see many accounts where audiences have been overlaid with arbitrary bid adjustments of 5 or 10% that have no reasoning behind them. Even more concerning is that the audiences commonly used are broad AdWords audience lists such as “All Users” or something similar. Admittedly, the 1000 user minimum for audiences to be used with RLSA can be a limitation. However, where possible, we need these lists to be more granular, this is where RLSA audience optimisation comes in.

Why Go Granular?

Here’s why – People coming through RLSA’s won’t always be ready to convert. It’s a nice thought, but there’s a lot more at play here.

If we know that a user has been on our site in the past 7 days, looked at a product and they’re still making searches for that product, this could mean a number of things, for instance:

  1.       They came to our site, saw our product and were surprised by the cost. They’re now looking for another retailer whose price is lower.
  2.       They came to our site, loved our product, added it to cart but didn’t purchase, maybe their phone died, or perhaps they wanted to do a little more research before converting.
  3.       They’re a competitor or ‘researcher’ who want to know all about what we do and what we sell but realistically have no intention of ever purchasing.

If you’re currently using an ‘All Users’ list, you’re treating these three different scenarios in the exact same way, perhaps even using the same bid adjustment.

Instead by taking the time to create more granular audience lists, based on, for example: time on site, number of pages viewed and other complex signals. We can speak only to users in scenario 2 and avoid wasting spend on users in scenarios 1 and 3.

To learn more about our approach to RLSA audience optimisation contact us today!