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Target & Bid VS. Bid Only: How Each Affects Your Google Shopping Campaign

By Richard Aviles on October, 2 2017

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Richard Aviles

Inbound Marketing Specialist at Sales & Orders. All I need in life is my girlfriend, my dogs, my camera and a campfire. Water's cool too, I guess.

When it comes to adding remarketing audiences to your Google Shopping campaign, there are 2 main methods of targeting you can utilize:

  1. Target and Bid (Targeting in the new AdWords Interface)
  2. Bid Only (Observation in the new AdWords Interface)


While this setting may seem inconsequential as you’re adding RLSA to your campaign, they both provide distinctly different results when applied.

Target and Bid

When you set your RLSA audience to target and bid in your Google Shopping campaign, you’re setting the campaign to only bid on and show your product listing ads to this audience.

Let’s say you build an audience in Analytics that groups people who add a product to their shopping cart, but don’t move forward with the checkout process.

In theory, you’d aggressively adjust your bids higher for the people who are in this audience so that the next time they go searching for you in Google Shopping, you’re effectively guaranteeing your listing will appear first.

You may set the bid adjustment to +100% or higher, so that a $1 bid, for example, would become a $2 bid the next time a person in this audience searches in Google Shopping.


On the same token, you’d still be bidding and showing to potential new customers who are also searching in Google Shopping. This is where the mix-up tends to occur.

While you may be under the impression that you’re bidding up on people who are in your remarketing audience, and bidding at your original max CPC for everybody else simultaneously, you are in fact only bidding on the people who live in the RLSA audience.

By doing this you’re limiting the amount of exposure your Google Shopping campaign will receive to only those in your audience(s).

Pros & Cons of The Target and Bid Setting
  • You can allocate a specific budget and strategy to audiences of interested consumers as you try to convert them into paying customers by creating an RLSA only campaign.
  • Your overall conversion rate and return on ad spend will increase with proper implementation.
  • There will be more budget in your main campaigns to increase exposure to new potential customers since you separated your remarketing efforts into their own space.
  • If improperly utilized, you could see dramatic decreases in overall performance.
  • Could limit the amount exposure your products will get in Google Shopping.
  • If you don’t have enough users in the audience for it to run, you could effectively be turning off your campaign, a potentially catastrophic error.
Bid Only

If you’re looking to add remarketing to your Google Shopping campaign as a method of increasing traffic and conversions, setting your RLSA audiences to Bid Only is your best option.


When you set an audience to bid only in your Google Shopping campaign, you’re taking a remarketing list, all users for example, and increasing your bids on their click the second time they’re searching in Google.

This may sound similar to the target and bid setting, but there is a distinct difference between the two.

While Target and Bid will narrow your overall reach to only those within the selected audience, bid only will adjust bids on the audience while at the same time still allowing your campaign to show product listing ads to all other potential customers searching in Google.

Let’s say you’re selling sneakers, and you have your max CPC bid on a particular product set to $1 in your campaign.

You add an RLSA audience set to bid only to the campaign to target all users who click on your ads, and set a bid adjustment of +100% to more aggressively target that audience of people.

User A who clicked on your ad yesterday and searched for you again today will be bid on at $2, while user B who is searching for sneakers for the first time today will be bid on at $1 in the same campaign.

This is where the difference lies between the two options. Bid only allows you to continue bidding at your pre-set max CPC bid to everyone, while at the same time allowing you to adjust your bids more aggressively on people who have previously engaged with your Google Shopping ads.

Pros and Cons of Bid Only
  • More efficiently target groups of people who are most likely to convert while not narrowing your overall reach.
  • Easy to manage these audiences as you only need to set bid adjustments and check back one or two times a month.
  • Increase overall performance of the campaign by pushing more ad budget towards people who have already expressed interest in your product.
  • May increase overall spend since your budget will go towards both the RLSA audiences and all other users searching in Google Shopping.
  • Not able to track exactly which products were sold because of remarketing efforts.
Final Thoughts

While both methods of targeting RLSA audiences have multiple benefits, the potential problems that can arise because of using Target and Bid improperly heavily outweigh those associated with Bid Only.

The goal of all businesses using remarketing in Google Shopping is to improve performance. And although both options can help you achieve this goal, if you set up a Target and Bid audience in your campaign it can have tremendously negative effects on its performance if incorrectly executed.

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