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Remarketing Not Working? Try This Bizarre Fix…


Google Reps are worth their weight in bitcoins, gold or clam shells.



The Problem


WebSavvy has recently taken on a new client and we’re focusing on maximizing their YouTube campaigns – with some great results.  Over the past few months I’ve been optimising and fine tuning the account, but there had always been an issue with the remarketing campaign, an increasingly annoying one.



Over the lifetime of our management the YouTube remarketing campaign had accrued exactly Zero impressions.


This hadn’t been a high priority for optimization in the early stages, but finally this issue worked its way to the top of my to-solve-list.  My initial investigation revealed no obvious flaws with the set up. I noted that an old AdWords remarketing campaign, set up in 2012 and removed after a couple of months, had never accrued any impressions either.


At the outset, the site completely complied with all of Google’s Remarketing policies. It did not belong to a sensitive category, had a privacy policy in place and did not collect any personally identifiable information. It was a clean site.


I thought hard and checked deep and could not come up with any logical reason why the campaign wasn’t running! So I decided it was time for my friendly Google Rep lifeline.



Help from Google



The response came back with some great gems on Youtube targeting. 



  •  Videos that are longer than 5 minutes face a penalty at the adwords auction, especially for the in-stream ad formats and require higher bids. ( It looks like the “quality score” calculation for videos has a “length” consideration.)
  •  In fact, Video ads longer than two or three minutes are better off running only the In-display ad formats, since the ad creative has the ability to inform the user of the video‘s duration.


BUT, none of this was the actual solution/reason for why our remarketing was not working.



Towards the end of the conversation our Rep also suggested that we review & accept the Terms and Conditions for AdWords (which she assumed we were aware of as she suggested that there was a large red flag or notification on top of the screen in the account).  Yet the only notifications we could see on our end were the standard Google Optimisation recommendations. Obviously, Google’s internal UI would be slightly different from what we see and to cut a long story short –


hidden in the billings tab, there was this subtle notification:





Why No One Saw It


The account had been created in 2005 (a geriatric in AdWords terms), WebSavvy started managing in early 2014.  From our previous experience, we knew these T&C acceptance notifications had started showing up in accounts at least a year ago when there was a billing systems update on Google’s end.  The notifications were indeed shown as a red flag at the top of the account.  But after a couple of months, I guess they were subtly moved to the billing interface to avoid annoying the client.


Now for our client  

– there had never been any issues with payment between the client and Google
– all other campaigns were running as expected with no issues – policy or other.  
– they had actually stopped running ads for a couple of months last year (when all these changes happened) and decided to resume this year.

So they had no clue about the updated T&Cs that needed to be accepted. Their account was not in use when the alert was being shown in the main campaigns view. As billing was already setup previously, and working, there was no reason to revisit the billings tab.



It was the simplest fix ever!  The client accepted the T&Cs and the remarketing groups started accruing impressions from the very next day!



So if you have a new client with an existing account, and remarketing campaigns are reporting zero impressions, check the billings tab.  It might be that simple…



Some Follow Up



Our rep pointed out the wording in the notification “Failure to accept the Terms and Conditions may result in your campaigns being paused and your inability to run new campaigns.”


The campaigns were not paused, just not functioning.  New campaigns, except remarketing, all running very well – profitably even.  Turns out “may” can mean a lot of things… 🙂


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