The issue – Google Search ads stopped generating impressions after implementing remarketing


Your Google Ads account has been running a search campaign targeting traffic on Google search. To help increase conversion you’ve implemented remarketing lists for search ads and after 24-48 hours your search ads are no longer generating any clicks or impressions. You start freaking out and questioning what you have implemented to the account that caused this. You’ve checked your details and they are correct.  What do you do next?

Solution – The settings for the remarketing lists for search ads have caused the issue

After reviewing the payment details, review the audience settings as you may have selected the incorrect setting for the remarketing lists for search ads.  To get to the audience settings, click on the left side navigation “audiences”. It is located between Dynamic ad targets and Demographics. Check if the setting selected for audience is selected to “targeting”.  You will find this information under the column “targeting setting”.  It will read either “observation” or “targeting”.  In your review if the setting is set to targeting then it is most likely causing the issue. The recommended setting should be “observation” and once you make the change you should start seeing impressions and clicks.

Why did the targeting setting do this to my account?

Let’s recap what is remarketing lists for search ads.  It is a feature that lets you customise your search ads campaign for people who have previously visited your site.  You can tailor your bids and ads to these visitors when they’re searching on Google and partner search sites.

How does remarketing work?

Remarketing is that second bite of the cherry for those customers that visited your website and left without doing anything important to your bottom line.  There are many reasons why a visitor did not make a purchase on that visit.  Using remarketing lists for search ads allows you to connect with these potential customers when they continue looking using Google Search.  There are two strategies for using remarketing lists with search ads.

  1. Optimise bids for your existing keywords for visitors on your list
  2. Bid on keywords that you don’t normally bid on just for people who have recently visited your site or have converted in the past

Difference between Targeting and Observation setting

Targeting: Narrows the reach of your campaign to specific audiences. You’re telling Google ads who you’d like to reach with your ads or where you’d like your ads to show on the internet.

Observation: Get reports on additional items without narrowing the reach of your campaign.  Your ads won’t change who can see your ads or where they can show. However, the “observation” setting allows you monitor how ads are performing for selected placements, topics or audiences while your campaign is running.


This is one possible solution for why your ads stopped generating impression and clicks as the setting selected was “targeting”. This setting can be too restrictive in geo-locations or lists that are very small.  If you change the setting to observation your ads will continue to reach new potential customers along with showing ads to those customers who have visited your site and hopefully convert.

If you are having issues with your paid advertising campaign then send us an email and we will happily answer any questions that you have with your campaigns.