Behold! The Marketing Magic of Retargeting


This scenario has surely happened to you: you’re browsing some new blog, catching up on today`s news or just checking out your friends’ posts on Facebook and suddenly you see an oddly familiar ad. Ah yes, it is that website you just visited a few hours ago. Voila! You’ve just been retargeted!

What is Retargeting?

Some websites that you visit store information pieces in your browser called cookies. The primary function of cookies is to store data about your preferences to make your browsing experience friendlier once you come back to a website. But cookies can also be used to identify you as a previous visitor and allow website´s to reach you through paid advertising (usually display ads). There is absolutely no one accessing your personal information or browsing history it is just a website that knows you visited showing you an ad.

This form of advertising is called retargeting. It is an effective way to trigger users to come back to your website or app to complete a specific action. Here is a retargeting scenario: a user browses your financial services website and forgets to sign up for a trial account, you show her ads prompting her to go back to the website to sign up for an account.

Retargeting became popular when Google AdWords launched the service to their advertisers in 2010—today more than 50% of online advertisers use it. There is a reason why retargeting has gotten so popular: according to a study from DataXu customer service firms enjoyed a 128% average increase in conversions using retargeting and those in the finance sector had an average increase of 147%. For financial firms retargeting is especially valuable because of their reliance on cross-selling, lead nurturing, and lifecycle marketing strategies.

Gate 39 Media Retargeting Ad

Is Remarketing and Retargeting the Same?

Remarketing and retargeting both share the same goal but the channel they use to achieve that goal is different.  Retargeting re-engages users using paid ads and remarketing does it by sending emails. So, a typical remarketing campaign would be an email sent to someone who abandoned a shopping cart before completing a purchase, a company offering a new product to their existing customers or simply a friendly reminder to take advantage of a special offer before it ends

Choosing a Retargeting Service

Once you´ve decided you want to start retargeting the next step is to choose which service you are going to use.

You can either set up retargeting individually in advertising channels such as Facebook, Google or Twitter or you can use a third-party remarketing platform such as AdRoll, Chango, Perfect Audience, and of course, Google AdWords. The latter ones are intermediaries and they can get you traffic from all major advertising channels without having to set up campaigns in each one of them. Using a third-party remarketing platform is pretty much like a one-stop shop to get access to all of internet´s retargeting inventory.

So which option is better? It depends on how much involvement you want to have in your campaigns, your budget, and the size of your audience. With platforms such as AdRoll you might get an account manager that helps you structure your campaign but they require you to pay ongoing fees. So, if you have a tiny budget or are just testing the waters it can be a bit pricey. If you are just starting out and don’t have a big budget set aside it would be better to do it directly with an advertising channel such as Google AdWords.

How to Set Up Retargeting

Setting up a retargeting campaign is surprisingly simple and can be done quickly.

So let`s take a look at some basic steps necessary to get everything in motion:

  • Once you choose the retargeting service provider you are going to use, install their retargeting code (called pixel as well) on the website or app you wish to bring back users to.
  • Define your retargeting criteria. Types of criteria might be: all users who visited your homepage, visited X page, spent X amount of time on your website, or went to check out but didn’t complete the purchase. There are many other options and combinations you can use but these are just some commonly used criteria throughout different industries.
  • Once you choose your retargeting criteria you need to start building your retargeting lists with users that match your defined criteria. Usually you would need an audience of at least 100 active visitors within the last 30 days for your ads to show.
  • Select the list you wish to target with ads (you can target multiple lists with different criteria simultaneously).
  • Now, it is time to create your ads. You can target each retargeting list with a different ad. For example, you can target all users who visited your homepage with a generic message of your brand and users who visited your sign up page with a specific call to action such as “come back and sign up”. A commonly used tactic is to entice users with a specific discount so they don’t think twice about coming back!
  • A good rule for a successful retargeting campaign is to limit the amount of times your ad is seen—or to vary the copy and design of your ad. Seeing the same ad over and over again can become a bit overwhelming and it may have the opposite effect—it may actually drive users away from your website. Luckily, there is a solution called frequency capping which limit is the amount of times your ads are shown.
  • You can create new retargeting lists for different criteria and test different ad combinations as you go to see which one gives you better results. As all strategies in online marketing the more you test the higher chances of success you will have.

Pro tip: there are more advanced retargeting tactics such as dynamic retargeting and search retargeting.

A great example of a website that uses dynamic retargeting is Amazon. Have you browsed a specific product on Amazon and then saw an ad of the exact same product? That is dynamic retargeting; the set up is more complex since it requires you to add more coding attributes to your website but the results can be even better since the ads are so relevant. Search retargeting on the other hand shows your ads to users who have searched for keywords related to your service on websites like Yahoo and Google.

For more information on leveraging Google AdWords retargeting services as part of your marketing plan, contact Gate 39 Media.