Google Ads for B2B: RLSA

Google Ads for B2B: Why RLSA Should be Your Weapon of Choice

Author Jon Quinton 6 min read time

Google Ads is a popular and often successful tool of choice for lead generation campaigns, and for good reason. Get your strategy and account structure right and you’ll have a profitable source of qualified enquiries coming in from a predictable channel. Basically, the holy grail for any lead gen business.

The problem comes with the ‘qualified’ part of the paragraph above. Foraging for relevant keywords with high enquiry intent is tricky, especially when you’re dealing with a high value service or product where volume is going to be low.

There is also the challenge of controlling costs and avoiding wasted spend on keywords that are far too broad. Taking our business as an example, I would never bid on “ppc” as a general term. Firstly, it’s expensive (~£8 per click) and secondly, I have no idea if someone is looking for advice, looking for tools, researching a few ideas or actually looking for an agency partner.

However, what if someone has shown clear interest in what we’re doing by viewing certain sections of our website or taking specific actions? In these cases I’d be more than happy to bid on the keyword to stop them going to a competitor or simply as an opportunity to make sure we’ve made our offering clear before we lose them. This is what RLSA (retargeting lists for search ads) are all about.

Specifically, when looking at use cases in B2B the beauty of building retargeting audiences is the irrefutable signs of intent certain actions provide.

For example:

• Views on key service pages (i.e the user in question has shown a clear interest in what you offer)

• 100% scroll depth on case studies (i.e the user in question is already assessing your credibility in detail)

• Multiple views on blog posts (i.e you’re attracting traffic that enjoys your content, but is perhaps unaware of the breadth of service on offer)

Cleary, depending on your offering you can fine tune your audiences and segmentation based on what you feel is most appropriate. The exciting thing here is that with a few GTM skills and a dose of analytics knowledge, the combinations are almost limitless.

For products and services where longer decision making cycles are the norm, being able to segment traffic and tailor messaging to each stage is vital. This is where RLSA becomes an incredibly powerful tool for any B2B campaign.

What we are really looking at here is a change in strategy. As a result you have effectively switched from using keywords to pre-validate your traffic, to a situation where you’re scaling traffic acquisition and using specific actions to then qualify intent.

This isn’t really any different to a classic funnel setup, but for B2B where specificity is key the above suddenly becomes a very powerful way to divert spend to people who you are certain to be in the right camp.

How to Get Started with RLSA

Setting up and running an RLSA campaign is very simple. As long as you have your Google Ads and Google Analytics (GA) accounts linked you can create segments and therefore audiences very easily in GA.

You can obviously create remarketing audiences in Google Ads by using their remarketing pixel, however using GA gives you a more comprehensive set of options and also means you no longer need to install the Google Ads remarketing pixel.

To start building your first audience, navigate to the admin menu in your GA account and under the Property column select ‘Audience Definitions’:

Google Analytics Audience Settings

The first thing you will see is the default audience for ‘All Users’. This includes anyone who has visited your website in the past 30 days. So, relatively broad and not really what we want to be using here.

Instead, let’s set up an audience for anyone who has viewed a case study and not yet enquired.

Click to create a new audience, select ‘Create New’ under audience definitions, and then start playing around with your options. As you can see you can use demographics, browser information or really whatever you want to configure a very specific audience.

In our case, setting up an audience for anyone who has viewed a case study means anyone who has viewed a page with ‘/work/’ or ‘/our-work’ in the URL path:

Case Study Views Retargeting Audience

We can then create an additional filter to exclude anyone who has submitted the contact form:

Retargeting Audience GA Excluding Converters

Click ‘apply’, name your audience and then you need to select your Google Ads account as the destination for where you would like to publish your audience. That’s your audience created and ready to use. Easy!

Your next step is to head over to Google Ads and create your Campaign, Ad Groups and populate with your ads and keywords. Up until this stage you follow the same process that you would with any standard campaign setup, so we’ll skip this bit.

Once you’ve added in the broader keywords you would like to target, it’s time to load in your audience to make sure you bid on your keywords ONLY after someone has taken a specific action on your website.

As you can see, the audience we created in GA is now ready to be used in Google Ads:

RLSA Audience Google Ads

A word of warning here; make sure you select ‘targeting’ as your bidding option. This means that you will only bid on campaign / ad group keywords when someone is ALSO in your audience.

Selecting the other option ‘Observations’ means you can adjust bids based on whether or not someone is in your audience, but you will still be bidding on your broad keywords regardless. Alarmingly, this is the default setting.

Obviously, depending on the specifics of your situation you will want to experiment and play around with different segmentation and messaging, but as you can see mechanically it’s relatively easy to get going.


Having been involved in digital marketing for over a decade, Jon set up Overdrive Digital in 2016. With extensive experience in both paid media and organic channels, Jon has worked with brands ranging from small startups to global businesses.