Use Google Analytics To Stop Wasting Remarketing Dollars On People That “Just Aren’t That Into You”


Remarketing is a powerful way to gain incremental conversions. After all, there is no better audience for buying your product than the one that is already familiar with it. Your visitors are warm prospects, and your remarketing pushes them right down the funnel.

But wait, is that always true? Is every person who visited your site actually in-market for your product? Or, are some of those site visitors just people with “fat fingers” that accidentally clicked a link on their tablet? Was that surge of traffic from Tumblr actually people interested in buying insurance, or was it curiosity clicks from a humorous take-down of your stock photo choices?

Face it — a chunk of your website visitors “Just Aren’t That Into You.” Coming to terms with this can be tough on the ego. Even tougher, though, is realizing that your remarketing campaigns are wasting dollars and impressions trying to reengage these people who don’t really care in the first place. Ouch.

I’ll share three strategies, using Google Analytics, that insure your remarketing efforts are actually targeting people who are potential customers and not wasting impressions on the visits that “Just Aren’t That Into You.” Your click-through rate (CTR) will increase when you aren’t endlessly pestering disinterested users with wasted impressions, and Google’s algorithm will serve your ad more frequently, on more premium placements, to the users that are interested in your offer.

Check Your Content

I frequently see remarketing campaigns that are targeting an audience of all site visitors over the last 30 days. This can be a decent starting point for a remarketing campaign, but even without looking at data, you can surely define some parts of your site that don’t warrant inclusion.

Careers pages are an obvious one. Contact pages which attract current customers are another one that should often be excluded. To find the less obvious pages, navigate in Google Analytics to the “Behavior” category, then drill down to “Site Content” > “Landing Pages.”

Filter for landing pages that have high session numbers but no conversions. You’ll discover content that is driving users for reasons other than purchase intent. Maybe one of your blog entries went viral. That’s great for your SEO, but all those people aren’t qualified targets for your remarketing.

For the non-converting content that you discover, create remarketing audiences (in AdWords or Analytics) of people who visited those pages and exclude those audiences from your remarketing campaigns.

Exclude “Barely There” Visits

Navigate to the “Audience” category  in Google Analytics, then select the subcategory of “Behavior.” You’ll find a report called “Engagement.” There, you’ll see a tiered report breaking down session duration (or time on site). On most sites, you’ll see that close to 50% (or more) of sessions are less than 10 seconds.



These <10 visitors are not good prospects for driving future conversions. You may have spent marketing dollars already on some of these initial visits, and the last thing you want to do is incur more costs trying to re-engage users that “Just Aren’t That Into You.”

To eliminate these people from your remarketing campaign target, create a Remarketing list in Google Analytics for sessions <10 seconds.


The list will appear in your AdWords account within a day and can then be added as a negative audience to your remarketing campaigns.

Leverage Affinity & In-Market Audiences

People visit websites for a myriad of reasons aside from simply being “in market” for a certain product or service. For instance, as a PPC professional you likely spend lots of time browsing client and competitor websites without any intention to purchase summer dresses or health insurance or whatever vertical you work in.

How can you separate the truly interested people from the looky-loos? Go to the “All Campaigns” report under Acquisition > Campaigns and filter for your remarketing campaigns. Then, set your Secondary Dimension to “Affinity Category (reach).”


These affinity categories map exactly to the affinity audience targets within Adwords. They will not always illuminate exactly why these people came to your site; after all, there are not affinity categories for “Digital Marketing Professionals Doing Competitor Research.” However, they do “bucket” people in ways that allow you to slice out most of the “Just Aren’t That Into You” users.

I’ve worked with a few clients that have products targeted to parents, or just a demographic that contains lots of parents. These advertisers have consistent problems with little kids clicking on their ads when mom or dad hands over the tablet. If this problem impacts you, you’ll likely see lots of clicks, and little to no conversions, coming from the “Comics & Animation Fans” and/or “Avid Gamers” affinity categories. Add them as negative audiences and voilà, no more wasting ad dollars on 3-foot tall Sesame Street fans.

You can also utilize the same strategy with “In-Market Segments.” The process is the same except when you choose your secondary dimension, choose “In-Market Segment.” Depending on your product and vertical, you’ll usually find one or the other illuminates the undesirable audience segments.

If you haven’t actually launched remarketing campaigns yet, you can look at these affinity categories and in-market segments as a secondary dimension on all your traffic within the “Acquisition” > “All Traffic” > “Channels” report to identify bad audiences before you launch. If you do this, you’ll still want to check your actual remarketing data periodically, once launched, as remarketing can “magnify” bad audiences by continuing to reengage and cookie users over and over that never really cared in the first place. 

Take Control & Start Negating

Hopefully these tips get you on the path to take control and stop pining after sales from users that “Just Aren’t That Into You.” Eliminating these people will have a positive impact on your remarketing performance results by eliminating wasted spend, increasing your CTR and gaining algorithmic favor with Google.

Once you start tactically thinking about your audiences as prospects and non-prospects, and see the performance gains, you’ll likely discover your own reporting dimensions and techniques for finding more unqualified audiences to cut from your campaigns. You can also find more tips for cutting out junk from your remarketing campaigns in this deck I presented at SMX Advanced in early June.

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