By Adam McAllister

As more and more of our clients reap the benefits of cross-department collaboration, this blog looks at why and how paid search teams share remarketing lists to programmatic.

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Google have made it really easy to share audience lists across the DoubleClick stack from search to programmatic, allowing display teams to re-engage users who’ve shown an intent and interest in a client’s products or services.

What's The Benefit?

Labels - cross department remarketing lists are based on labels, giving creative account managers loads of flexibility when it comes to audience makeup. In DoubleClick Search, labels can be applied at engine account, campaign, ad group, keyword, product group or ad level – so the possibilities are only limited by your strategic thinking.

Performance – With a strong cross-department remarketing strategy in place we can expect the targeting to perform well. Take advantage of the ability to segment users by the content of their search beyond brand vs. generic, and tailor the conversation you have with them in display to see the benefits of this type of retargeting.

Return On Generics – Non-brand searches can be pricey and often contribute to a low ROI for client accounts. With search to display lists, you can squeeze more value from your highest volume keywords.

Use Cases

The most basic way of splitting traffic for remarketing lists would be for brand and generic. It’s simple but effective – the users could be served more relevant messaging and will likely have plenty of volume.

But since cross-department RM lists are based on labels, why not target ads or keywords instead? One of our property clients uses this feature to bucket users who have come through a keyword that mentions a high value area, regardless of which ad group or campaign the keyword sits in. They’ll then be served tailored, location-based creative through programmatic.

You could also start to build audience lists specifically for the purpose of feeding a cross-department funnel. One of our largest clients has started targeting broad but relevant keywords in order to build a list of users who are effectively in-market for the client’s services, before adding them to programmatic’s targeting to blur the lines between prospecting and remarketing.

If your client runs shopping ads, then create lists of users who viewed specific product groups (if there’s enough volume to do so), and retarget those users with your hero products from that category.

With a price competitive client, you might want to retarget users whose searches have contained some kind of pricing term, and use that to inform the kind of USP or call to action that you use in display creative. If the client has a sale on, then label up sale-related keywords and serve relevant display ads to those users.

How to


Both teams should sit down to discuss a strategy based on the account goals. These discussions will inform how the search team structure their labelling to be used in the audience definitions.


With a strategy in place, the search team can label their account to create the corresponding audiences. These can be applied at any level, so it’s possible to re-engage users who have clicked on a specific product group, or match display messaging to the type of search ad creative that the user came through, or filter users by keyword content.

List Setup

In DS, navigate to the advertiser level and choose ‘remarketing’ from the left pane. Click +Remarketing list and give the list a name. Use a descriptive and sensible naming convention here to avoid any confusion – if you can match your programmatic team’s current naming convention then do so. Set the time duration for the maximum 540 days because timeframes can be set at insertion order level. Choose the labels that should be included in each remarketing list, and wait for the platform to find your linked AdWords and DBM accounts (this can take a few minutes). When the option appears, choose the relevant boxes to share the audiences to your DBM account, and click save.

Search to Programmatic remarketing flow chart


Besides the performance benefits that you can expect to see from using cross-department remarketing lists, both search and display can work together to use everything at their disposal to tie up their marketing efforts. Better integrated campaigns ensure a smoother customer journey, and an improved customer experience is more likely to result in sales.

The best performing cross department remarketing lists are often the most creative, but this kind of strategy requires the collaboration of the search and display teams. Whilst the audience strategy may come from the programmatic team, they’ll need the search team’s expertise and experience to know what’s feasible.

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