Stop Wasting Your Google Ads Budget: How to Disable Optimised Targeting in Remarketing Campaigns

Google Ads remarketing campaigns are invaluable for retargeting visitors who have previously interacted with your brand.

However, many marketers find their budget wasted due to an often-overlooked default setting known as “optimised targeting.” This feature aims to expand your audience beyond those who have interacted with your site, but it often leads to irrelevant traffic, higher costs, and a poor return on investment (ROI). This guide will walk you through the process of disabling optimised targeting to enhance your campaign’s efficiency, improve conversions, and reduce wasted ad spend.

Key Takeaways

  • Optimised targeting is a default setting in most Google Ads remarketing campaigns that can result in wasted ad spend by attracting low-quality traffic.
  • By switching it off, your campaigns will target only the visitors who have previously engaged with your brand, improving conversion rates.
  • Follow our step-by-step guide to disable optimised targeting and take full control of your audience strategy.

What is Optimised Targeting in Remarketing Campaigns?

Optimised targeting in Google Ads remarketing campaigns is designed to broaden the reach of your audience by finding new groups similar to those who’ve already visited your website. Google claims this approach will identify potential customers who haven’t yet interacted with your brand but share behavioural traits or demographic information with your existing visitors. While this sounds effective in theory, the results often fall short.

One of the main challenges is that users who have never heard of your brand may not respond well to your ads. These users are unfamiliar with your products or services, which typically results in lower engagement and poor conversion rates. Moreover, these new users dilute the effectiveness of your existing audience, making it more difficult to analyse the performance of your campaign and identify actionable insights.

How Optimised Targeting Can Lead to Poor Performance in Remarketing

When optimised targeting is enabled in your remarketing campaigns, your ads are displayed to people who have no prior experience with your brand. This unfamiliarity makes them less likely to convert, causing you to pay for clicks that fail to deliver results. Moreover, this broader targeting strategy often results in inflated campaign costs, eating away at your budget without providing a corresponding uplift in conversions.

In addition to reduced ROI, optimised targeting can hinder your ability to understand your campaign’s performance. By introducing irrelevant traffic, it becomes challenging to pinpoint which segment of your audience is driving conversions. This results in muddied data that prevents you from identifying high-potential leads or areas for improvement, leaving your campaign directionless.

Step-by-Step Guide to Disable Optimised Targeting in Remarketing Campaigns

The good news is that disabling optimised targeting is straightforward and will immediately help you take back control of your remarketing campaigns. Here’s how to do it:

  1. Access Your Google Ads Dashboard: Log into your Google Ads dashboard, where you can manage all your campaigns. Navigate to the “All campaigns” section.
  2. Go to Your Remarketing Campaign: Click on “Display campaigns” and select the remarketing campaign where you’d like to make adjustments.
  3. Select the Relevant Ad Group: Identify the specific ad group within the campaign that you want to modify.
  4. Edit Ad Group Settings: Click on “Settings,” then “Edit ad group targeting.”
  5. Turn Off Optimised Targeting: In the “Optimised targeting” section, untick the checkbox to disable the feature. This ensures that your campaign focuses exclusively on those who have engaged with your brand.

Benefits of Disabling Optimised Targeting in Remarketing

Higher Quality Traffic

By switching off optimised targeting, you’ll eliminate the traffic that isn’t already acquainted with your brand. This ensures that your ads are shown only to those who are more likely to engage, ultimately increasing conversion rates and improving ROI. Focusing on people already familiar with your brand means they’re more receptive to your message and already have a higher likelihood of converting.

Reduced Ad Waste

Without the distraction of irrelevant traffic, you’ll spend less on unqualified clicks. This leads to better use of your budget and a stronger impact on your campaign’s goals. When your ads are targeted solely at those who’ve engaged with your website or app, you’ll no longer waste resources reaching people who aren’t interested.

Clearer Analytics

With optimised targeting disabled, you’ll see more accurate data reflecting the quality of your audience. This will provide deeper insights into campaign performance, allowing you to fine-tune your strategies and improve your audience engagement. The more precise your targeting, the better the quality of your campaign data.

Best Practices for Remarketing Campaigns

Segment Your Audience

Rather than lumping all previous visitors into a single group, consider segmenting them based on their interaction level. Create lists for new visitors, frequent buyers, cart abandoners, or past customers to tailor your messaging effectively. Personalised ads that speak directly to specific segments increase the likelihood of engagement and conversion.

Optimise Ad Creative

Ensure that your ad creative resonates with your remarketing audience. Use strong, engaging calls to action that remind visitors of why they should return to your site. Test different ad formats, visuals, and messages to discover what works best with your segmented lists, and refine your creative based on performance insights.

Exclude Unqualified Audiences

Not all visitors are ready to convert. Exclude those who may not provide long-term value, such as those who bounced quickly or showed little engagement. By focusing on high-potential leads, you’ll maximise your ROI and create a stronger brand presence among your target audience.


What is optimised targeting, and why does Google enable it by default?

Optimised targeting aims to expand your campaign’s reach by finding people similar to your current audience. Google enables it by default to increase exposure and help advertisers find new customers. However, this often leads to irrelevant traffic and wasted ad spend.

How do I ensure I’m still reaching the right people after disabling optimised targeting?

By using custom audiences and remarketing lists, you can target people who’ve already interacted with your website or app. This ensures your ads reach the right people at the right time, increasing your chances of conversions.

How often should I review and refine my remarketing campaign settings?

Regular reviews are crucial. Consider checking your campaign settings monthly to ensure they align with your business goals and any changes in your audience’s behaviour. Adjust your targeting, creative, and bidding strategies based on performance data.

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Remarketing campaigns can be incredibly effective, but only if they’re targeted correctly. Disabling optimised targeting in your Google Ads campaigns will ensure you’re not wasting your ad spend on people unfamiliar with your brand. By following this guide and applying these best practices, you’ll be better equipped to reach high-quality leads, reduce wasted ad spend, and achieve higher conversion rates. Don’t forget to regularly review your campaign settings to keep your strategy aligned with your goals and your audience’s evolving preferences.