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Why RLSA is the Key to Efficient Conquesting

Guillaume Bouchard
Why RLSA is the Key to Efficient Conquesting

Conquesting strategies in Search can be notoriously expensive. Bidding on competitor keywords is almost guaranteed to result in low Quality Scores. If you’re not careful, or have a limited budget you can find yourself breezing through your budget quicker than you can say “conversion.” Fear not, using RLSA (Remarketing Lists for Search Ads) can help you craft cost-effective and efficient conquest campaigns.

Low Quality Score = Inefficient Conquesting

With Quality Scores lingering around the 1, 2 and 3 mark you may think that it’s not worthwhile engaging in conquesting as the costs are too high.

However, a huge benefit of RLSA is that it allows you to be very efficient with a stringent budget. This efficiency makes it possible for accounts with smaller budgets to engage in conquest targeting. Instead of spending budget on every user searching for a competitor product, only bid on those users who are familiar with your product, thus improving CTR, Cost Per Outcome, and Outcome Rate.


Retarget Acquired

RLSAs allow you to customize your search campaign for users on Google based on pages of your website they have previously visited. Depending on the audience list they may be on, you can adapt your campaign. You can target users searching for your competitor's brand, but only after you know they have already visited your website and have already considered your business during their research.

If you’re selling smartphones your potential customers will spend time doing their research online comparing models and prices. RLSA can be used to effectively target users in this research stage and pull them back into the buying cycle on your website.


There are three core tactics that you can use with RLSA to improve your conquesting efficiency:

  1. Bid Modifier

Using the smartphone example, early on in the buying process potential customers want to gather information about potential purchases. Their first search term may be the broader ‘best smartphones,’ one of your standard, non-conquest search ads may be triggered and bring the user to your website. With RLSA set up this user will be added to an audience list, e.g. ‘Smartphones.’ This user will browse your site but still have a lot of researching to do before they finally settle on their smartphone.

In the research phase, once a visitor has been to your website their next stop will undoubtedly be that of your competitor. Armed with the knowledge that this user is interested in buying a smartphone and is familiar with your brand already (and therefore further down the sales funnel) you can target them more aggressively on their next Google search for a competitor term.

  1. Different Ad Copy

Bidding aside, audience lists can help you get creative with your ad copy. Did the user make it to the ‘Buy New Smartphone Model X’ page but then fail to complete the purchase? Maybe an ad with a promotional offer will persuade them to divert from their intended competitor search and come back to your site this time around.

  1. Widen the Keyword Net

Knowing that users have been to your website and what pages they have been on allows you to broaden your keyword targeting. Broader search terms will increase the likelihood that you will appear to your Audience Lists in Google the next time around.

You can bid on competitor keywords that, without RLSA, would not be relevant (or profitable) enough for your business to bid on. However, when coupled with an audience list you can make the most of broader competitor search terms in order to attract qualified searchers.

These three tactics are a great way to capture a user that you might have missed the first time around. Combined they are very effective at pulling back in a user who has been to your site and is now back in the competitor search process.

Testing, Testing, One, Two

Below are real world results on the tactics outlined above when it came to Outcome Rate and Cost Per Outcome.

In order for a clean test to be carried out, this ‘Smartphones Visitors’ audience list was added as an excluded audience to the standard smartphone campaign. This meant that we had both a ‘Smartphone’ and ‘Smartphone RLSA’ campaign running side by side, allowing for RLSA to be tested against a standard search campaign.

Outcome Rate

Note that the same ad copy was on both the standard ads and the RLSA ads.

CPOThe RLSA campaign had an Outcome Rate 254% higher and a Cost Per Outcome 66% less than the standard campaign, a big win for this particular test. Based on the results, RLSA was rolled out across a number of other conquest campaigns with similarly strong results seen.

OR and CPO

They’ll Be Back

There are very few reasons not to implement an RLSA strategy on your search campaigns. As mentioned above, you can target more qualified traffic and customize the ad copy they see based on the web pages they have visited and how long ago they have visited. You can then pull these users back to your website while they are engaged in researching competitors' products by increasing your bids and serving highly relevant ad copy to this segment.

Despite the benefits, the adoption rate of RLSA among advertisers is still relatively low. By implementing RLSA as part of your conquest strategy you can give yourself a serious competitive edge in search.

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Guillaume Bouchard is CEO of iProspect in Canada (formerly nvi, which he co-founded), a leading digital performance agency where he oversees business development and growth. Guillaume is results-driven, putting performance at the forefront of strategies. His plan: to attain clear goals that have the most impact for clients, trying every possible solution to get results.
Mark Byrne, Paid Media Specialist at iProspect, also contributed to this blog post.
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