Retargeting: What is it & How Can I Use it?

Joanna Lord of SEOmoz: 

The search and info discovery process has become so fragmented (every morning you’re inundated with facebook links, twitter links, spread across multiple sites) so marketing has changed. Re-targeting is the answer to the new way people search and discover information.

Display advertising of yesteryear: less was expected (old model):

  • Acquisition: generate traffic and improve brand awareness
  • Conversion: produce conversions, increase revenue of each conversion
  • Retention: set expectations that will be met at this point and establish trust  (Here’s where retargeting shines.)

What is retargeting?  

Someone comes to your site, they are marked with a cookie, and then my ads are shown across ad networks on other sites. Goal is to bring them back to our site further along in the buying process–hopefully trust has been built through ads–so that they’re further down the purchase process.


  • More than 90% of retailers do not complete a transaction in their first visit.
  • Retargeted consumers are nearly 70% more likely to complete a purchase as compared to non-retargeted consumers.
  • Retargeted consumers spend, on average 50% more than those served with non-retargeted banner ads.

10 Retargeting Tips:

  1. Go after the 90%: Optimize beyond the desired action. Retargeting ads should be optimized to each user’s site use patterns, if they visit the blog most, retargeting ads should be tailored towards the blog.
  2. Capitalize visually on what makes your brand memorable: Because you have multiple impressions with retargeting, you can tailor your images and branding and be much, much more creative than display.
  3. Sequence retargeting: Tell a brand story using sequential ads over time. Segment what you’re showing people based upon how long they’ve had your cookie without a conversion.
  4. Expect more from the data: Know what to expect and then micro manage your way there.
  5. Choose your triggers wisely with retargeting (& sequence them): Time sensitive promos are more powerful. You can only show a promo to someone who’s already seen your site, so a retargeted ad is a much more powerful ad.
  6. Test any and every truth you operate under.
  7. Get social: Engaging with strangers is nice, engaging with qualified leads is better. Use retargeting to start social conversations. PROTIP: CUSTOMIZE THE FB AND TWITTER LOGOS TO STICK OUT.
  8. Correlation & Causation: Subliminal messaging FTW! Go to partners, stick your ads next to partners that will lend brand equity to each other.
  9. Go beyond your site: Use search retargeting to target users that searched organically for related terms and target users that visited similar sites to your own, target users that visited partner sites to yours, target users that you correspond to in emails.
  10. Think outside the box: Stop trying to use the time honored “build trust” and use retargeting to take what’s unique about your brand and leverage it in a creative way. You can be really creative with retargeting; leverage that to create a persuasive media message.

Where to start?  Start building out your first audience.

Challenges with Retargeting

  1. Tracking can be difficult. Dial your segment code, burn code, and conversion code.
  2. Settling expectations and handling haters: Send an email out to your company and let them know you’re testing the program. Be honest with people who email you about stalking them across the web: “we’re testing. please be patient”
  3. Optimization is required. You have to optimize research, landing pages, negative sites, managing backlash, banner ads, reporting uphill, etc. It’s a lot of work and a lot of testing, but exceptionally effective once dialed.

Adam Berke of AdRoll:

Retarget Like a Rockstar with Adroll!

AdRoll is the most widely used retargeting platform in the world, used by Fortune 500 companies–over 3500 companies using it today.

The Evolution of the Display Ecosystem 

  • Direct Buy
  • Ad Networks
  • Ad Exchanges
  • Intent Data (98%* of carts are abandoned)

Leveraging Your Intent Data: Segmentation. 

  • Look at time statistics to segment your retargeting.
  • Time counts: time might be the most effective stat to segment.

Retargeting is great for retention.

It’s a fantastic CRM channel for cross selling, up-selling. Use reminders to get them convert after some time. “The cookie is the new email.” Nurture relationships using triggers and time stats.

Demand Control & Transparency

Demand transparency in your retargeting. Get the data and use it to your advantage.

Utilize the Display Canvas

Example, display different tshirts on a particular model the customer lingered on. Personalize your retargeting creative based on user behavior.


  • Leverage your intent data
  • Segment and consider timing
  • Make your marketing message useful
  • Don’t obsess about pricing model, everyone has to buy it on a CPM


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