Google Remarketing with Universal Analytics

07.01.14 // Jenna
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In light of the Google’s upgrade to Universal Analytics, we’re writing a series of posts to address specific questions you may have surrounding the changes that are taking place, and what it means for your business.

Google recently rolled out Phase 3 of its Universal Analytics upgrade, bringing it out of beta and officially into primetime. This means that all features are now supported in Universal Analytics, including Remarketing, a key feature that was previously missing from the upgrade. Previously, anyone who upgraded to Universal Analytics was not able to use the Remarketing features, so understandably, many marketers have held off on the upgrade—until now.

New Features in UA Remarketing

In addition to being easy to set up, Universal Analytics has a number of cool new features for Remarketing that are easy to use and implement. The following Remarketing audiences, for example, were previously impossible to target; the new rule-based tagging makes it easy.


  • Separate campaigns for users that come from branded vs non-branded searches
  • Target by utm_source or other utm fields
  • Separate campaigns for users that come from different search engines
  • Separate campaigns for users on an email list

Remarketing Advantages

Remarketing lets you match the right message to the right individual at the right time. When someone visits your site without filling out a form, Remarketing lets you connect with them again and display relevant ads when they navigate across the web or search on Google. Whether you’re looking to increase leads from campaigns, push individuals down the sales cycle, or push later stage offers, Remarketing is a strategic component to your marketing campaigns and can be used in a number of different ways:

  • Google Display Network: Run text, image, interactive and video ads on Google’s Display Network
  • Remarketing Lists for Search Ads (RLSA): Show past visitors text ads as they search on Google, tailored by keywords, bid adjustments, etc.
  • Dynamic remarketing: Advertisers with a Google Merchant Center account can show dynamically created ads to site visitors based on the specific pages that your customers visit or how they interact with your website
  • Remarketing for mobile apps: Retarget visitors who have visited specific sections of your mobile app; they’ll see your ads when they visit other relevant apps

Enabling Remarketing in Universal Analytics

With the new Universal Analytics, you can easily set the foundation for your remarketing lists by replacing just one line of Google Analytics tracking code on your website. To implement Remarketing features for Universal Analytics, insert the bold line of code below into your existing tracking code between the ‘create’ and ‘send’ commands, as illustrated in this example:

(i[r].q=i[r].q||[]).push(arguments)},i[r].l=1*new Date();a=s.createElement(o),
ga(‘create’, ‘UA-XXXXXX-XX’, ‘’);
ga(‘require’, ‘displayfeatures’);
ga(‘send’, ‘pageview’);

You can also take a look at the full directions to enable Remarketing in Universal Analytics directly from Google. Once enabled, you can create as many different remarketing lists as needed. Even better, this is a one-time update to the code, so you won’t be bothered with any additional changes down the road. At this time, it is strongly recommended that all marketers upgrade to Universal Analytics in order to take advantage of the new Remarketing segmentation options.

What Else is New in Universal Analytics?

Aside from Remarketing, the Universal Analytics upgrade has a number of new features, like the ability to connect multiple devices, sessions, and engagement data with one User ID, the ability to collect data from any digital device, and a number of new configuration options, such as:


  • Customize organic search sources – change how organic searches are attributed in your account and how it appears in reports
  • Referral exclusions – leave out domains from your referral sources
  • Session & campaign timeout handling – set how long you want sessions and campaigns to last
  • Search term exclusions – count some search traffic as direct traffic (e.g. branded traffic)
  • Create custom dimensions and custom metrics, so you can collect data that’s unique to your business

Time to Make the Upgrade

For those of you who are already familiar with Remarketing, you know how effective it can be for driving conversions and ROI. It’s now way easier to set up with Universal Analytics and includes a number of new features that previously required advanced set up or weren’t possible. Have you upgraded to Universal Analytics yet? It’s time.

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