Google Analytics Retargeting With “Smart Pixel”

September 21, 2012

Collective Measures

At the end of July, Google Analytics announced that they were releasing a “smart pixel” update to their tracking code.  By changing just one line of code in your analtyics tracking code, you would be able to create countless retargeting lists.  Gone were the days of pasting various AdWords retargeting code snippets on your site. This alone was worth the code update. However, because this code now collects both the GA visitor data along with the doubleclick retargeting data, we search marketers now have a very powerful tool to “micro-segment” our site audience any way we choose. This new feature, allows you to slice and dice your site visitor audience using any of the data available in Google Analytics.

First, a quick refresher – here is what you need to change your Google Analytics tracking code to. The line of code in bold is the only thing that changes:

<script type="text/javascript">
var _gaq = _gaq || [];
_gaq.push(['_setAccount', 'UA-xxxxx-y']);
(function() {
var ga = document.createElement('script'); ga.type = 'text/javascript'; ga.async = true; 

ga.src = (‘https:’ == document.location.protocol ? ‘https://’ : ‘http://’) + ‘’;

var s = document.getElementsByTagName('script')[0]; s.parentNode.insertBefore(ga, s);

Now here are some examples of how awesome this new feature is:

    • Let’s assume that you know that new visitors to your site don’t convert as often because they are still researching all their options, and price is a big decision making factor for new visitors, because return customers already know the speed and quality of your service. In that case, you create a custom segment list, like the one below, and retarget these people with ads explicitly talking about price, and touting your price guarantee.
    • Let’s assume that you are a high tech company that serves the a variety of industries, including aerospace. In that case, you create a custom segment list, like the one below, and retarget these people with ads specific the the aerospace sector.
  • Let’s assume that you know that once visitors go through some sequence of pages and/or actions on your site that they are much more likely to convert because they have shown intent. In that case, you create a custom segment list, like the one below and retarget these customers with very specific ad copy. You would also be willing to page more per click for these visitors because  you know that they are more likely to convert.

As you can see, the common denominator in all the examples above, is setting up a custom segment in Google Analytics. You are no longer limited to simply retareting people based on the pages they visited on your site, even though this is an effective tactic in most cases. You can now retarget people by the actions they did, or didn’t, do on your site. And on top of that you still have all the visitor segmentation data that Google Analytics provides (e.g. location, language, mobile vs. desktop, etc.).

My recommendation is to really start digging into your visitor data. If and when you find a segment that you may want to target, create it – even if you aren’t ready to market to them yet. Create that segment and let that retargeting list grow. This way, once you are ready, you will hopefully have a large retargeting pool to advertise to.

Happy Retargeting!