Google Display Ads Remarketing vs. Cold Targeting

The different targeting options available through Google’s Display Ads is one of the biggest advantages of using the platform. You can cast fairly wide nets with basic demographic targeting, or you can go for hyper-niche targeting that shows ads on certain publisher sites or to users who already have a specific relationship with your business.

There are plenty of options, ranging from cold targeting to remarketing… but which is better, and how do they each impact your campaigns?

In this post we’re going to look at the differences (and the pros and cons) of Google Display Ads remarketing vs. cold targeting and when to use each.

What Are Google Display Ads Cold Targeting Options and How Do They Work?

Google Display Ads has multiple targeting options that allow you to reach cold audiences— aka people who you aren’t necessarily connected to— by choosing who sees your ad based on different characteristics.

Audience target segments based on interest targets and demographics.

Different cold targeting options based on your users’ activity include:

  • Location
  • Age
  • Gender
  • Traits like household income, degrees held, parental status, and home ownership status
  • Topics the user is interested in
  • Behaviors or audience segments, like being in the market for a new car or doing a lot of online shopping

You can also choose to target the type of sites where you’d like your ad to appear, including:

  • Choosing to have your ad appear on websites, apps, and videos about a certain topic
  • Choosing to request your ad be placed on specific websites, videos, or apps

How Does Cold Audience Targeting Work on Display Ads?

Google Display Ads’ cold audience targeting allows advertisers to choose which traits they want to target— and/or which sites they want to appear on— to tell Google exactly what types of users they’d like to reach.

Google has extensive data about individual users based on their online activity, including their browsing activity. They know with pretty solid accuracy which users are currently searching for realtors and new homes online, dropping those users into an “in the market for a new house” segment.

You can stack different targeting options so that you can target hyper-niche segments of users. This is part of where Display Ads excel.

If you had a line of decor for kids’ bedrooms designed for toddlers and preschoolers, for example, you might create an audience like this:

  • Women
  • Ages 25-32
  • Parents of toddlers
  • Home decor enthusiasts
  • In-market for home decor

How Does Google Display Ads Remarketing Work?

In addition to cold audience targeting, you can also use Google Display Ads’ remarketing features to reach specific, individual audience members who belong to different audience segments.

You can, for example, target users who recently visited a certain product page, or those who signed up for a free trial of your SaaS tool.

To do this, you’ll create audience segments in your Audience Manager. Here, you can create audiences from the following:

  • Users who visited a certain page on your site
  • Users who took a certain action, like completing a checkout (or adding items to their cart without checking out)
  • Users who signed up for an email list
  • Users who filled out a lead form
  • Customers who have purchased from you in the past
  • Segments of existing contacts and customers from a list
  • Users who have downloaded or taken certain actions in your app

Many retargeting options utilize cookie-based tracking. This means you can retarget users who visited a product page even if they left you no information about who they are through an email sign-up or purchase. Some options, however, allow you to add lists of customer information with their email and phone number.

Once your retargeting segments are created, you can add them to your Display Ad campaigns.

Screenshot from Google Ads platform settings for targeting audience segments

Google Display Ads Remarketing vs. Cold Targeting: When to Use Each

Google Display Ads cold targeting and remarketing both have vital roles to play in your advertising strategy. You just need to know when and how to use them.

You should use cold audience targeting to (you guessed it!) reach cold audiences. You can use these ads to generate brand or product discovery, showing ads to users who aren’t looking and may not even know that you exist. You can create real interest and drive clicks and brand awareness at the same time.

Once you drive clicks to your site through Display Ads and Search Ads, you’ll use remarketing campaigns to stay in touch. You can create relevant campaigns that are designed to appeal to users based on the specific retargeting audience they’re in.

You might, for example, promote a 10% off coupon to users who abandoned their cart or show users the grill cleaning kit that will perfectly maintain the grill they just ordered from you a few weeks ago.

It’s important to think about the entire buyer’s journey and the digital sales funnel. Cold audience targeting is where it’s at for the discovery and introduction part of the buyer’s journey, and remarketing can help with the rest.

Final Thoughts

We’ve had clients ask us which is better in the debate between Google Ads remarketing vs cold audience targeting, but there isn’t really a “better.”

You will likely see higher conversion rates coming from remarketing campaigns because those users are already much further in the funnel, but you can’t get them to that stage of the funnel if they never discover your brand to begin with. Both types of audience targeting play a vital role in increasing your overall conversions and revenue from Google Ads, so taking some time to set them up well is important.

There is no better— you need both.

Need help setting up a strong sales funnel with Google Ads? We can help. Get in touch with us here.