How to setup Dynamic Remarketing in Google AdWords

Google AdWords dynamic remarketing setup with Google Tag Manager on WooCommerce

This article is will be updated with completely new instructions to support the updated dynamic remarketing tracking of the Google Ads remarketing tag. The following content is outdated and should not be used with new measurement setups.

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 webshop. With prices and availability varying daily can make 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

Google 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 your 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. Also about 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 Google Tag Manager plugin settings

There are 3 options related to this feature:

  • the first enables the necessary tagging on your site
  • the second allows you to enter a prefix for product IDs
  • the third instructs the plugin to include product SKUs while tagging instead of product IDs

For the second and third 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 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.

Some feed generator plugins include a prefix text while adding the product ID to the feed (in most cases this is ‘woocommerce_gpf’). Since product IDs in the feed must match with IDs in your AdWords remarketing tags, this plugin allows you to enter the prefix used by the feed generator to match IDs.

Setup variables in Google Tag Manager for all verticals

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:

Google Tag Manager: add new variable button

Select Data Layer Variable as variable type then enter the name ecomm_prodid into the Data Layer Variable Name field. You may want to enter the same value into the title field of this panel at the top. After this, hit the Save button at the right top corner of the window.

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 if you are in the retail vertical:

Google Tag Mannager: add dynamic remarketing parameters

If you are in anther vertical than retail, check this Google AdWords Help Center article to see what parameter names you need to use instead of the ecomm_ variables above. For example the real estate vertical has to use those variable keys: listing_id, listing_pagetype, listing_totalvalue. The hotels vertical uses hrental_id, hrental_pagetype, hrental_totalvalue

In any case, you will need to change the values entered in the left column of the table above. You can leave the values in the “Value” column just as they are except for ecomm_pagetype:

Mapping page types of other verticals

In the mentioned article above you will see that each vertical uses its own page type names that differs from names in the Retail vertical. You will need to create a new GTM variable with the type Lookup Table Variable to map each Retail page type provided by my plugin to the page type names required by a specific vertical. The following screenshot is for example about the Travel vertical:

AdWords Dynamic Remarketing with Tag Manager: mapping page type names for other verticals

You will now need to use this new variable in your AdWords remarketing tag:

AdWords Dynamic Remarketing with Google Tag Manager: setup your AdWords tag for other verticals

Create a so called DOM Ready trigger

  • Create a new trigger in your Google Tag Manager container
  • Select the trigger type: Page View – DOM Ready
  • Select All DOM Ready events from the “This trigger fires on” section
  • Name the trigger as you wish (for example: ‘PV – DOM Ready’)
  • Save the new trigger
Google Tag Manager: DOM Ready trigger

If you are curious about that trigger and about why it is needed, check the article about enhanced ecommerce.

Create a trigger to track variable products

If you are using variable products in your WooCommerce shop, you will need to create another trigger.

On product detail pages when users select product attributes, a separate product ID/SKU has to be reported for AdWords on each selection. This is because the product ID of the base product differs from the ID of a specific product with certain attributes. When users select product attributes, usually there isn’t any new page load invoked. Instead, an event is fired for Google Tag Manager so that you can fire an additional remarketing tag to catch the newly selected product ID:

Google Tag Manager: event trigger for variable product selection

Add the DOM Ready and change detail view trigger to your AdWords remarketing tag

  • Open the tag for editing
  • Scroll down to the Triggerinng section and open it
  • Remove the All pages element (! important !)
  • Add the newly created DOM Ready and change detail view trigger
  • Save the tag

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 (retail vertical) or a different kind of feed  for other verticals.