Joanna Lord will be speaking about “Display and Remarketing” at SearchFest 2012, which will be held February 24, 2012 at The Governor Hotel in Portland, Oregon. For more information or to purchase tickets, please click here.

1) Please give us your background and tell us what you do for a living.

I’m the Director of Customer Acquisition & Engagement at, a leading SEO software provider out of Seattle, WA. I manage the company’s paid search marketing efforts including channels like PPC, retargeting, affiliate marketing, Facebook advertising, Twitter advertising, and more. I also head up the testing, analytics, and other ongoing marketing optimization pieces at SEOmoz. It’s a great team and I love being a part of the big goals we have as a company.

In my spare time I tend to wander the social networks, blog occasionally for other sites, and speak at a number of conferences on performance marketing. I am an eight-year veteran of this industry, and the startup culture and I seriously can’t imagine doing anything else. My insomnia coupled with my love for coffee has kept me grooving along and I personally see so much left for me to learn. While my background falls primarily in paid channels, working at SEOmoz has introduced me to the organic side of things, and I find myself more recently dabbling in retention and lifecycle marketing. This industry is a fantastic place to be when you are a curious cat and I think certainly consider myself one of those. Plus, I get to meet amazing, passionate people on a daily basis…this community is a great place to call home.

2) Many people see Display Advertising as being synonymous with the AdWords Display Network.  What opportunities are they missing by just looking to Google for Display?

So many. I think Google was banking on this confusion when they switched over the name from the Content network to the Display network in mid-2010. New advertisers look at their advertising options for the Google Network and they now see “Search” and “Display.” For a lot of advertisers the word “Display” never grows bigger than Google’s option due to it’s ease of set-up and the way Google has positioned their level of coverage.

I think that is all sorts of wrong. At SEOmoz and for past companies and clients, I have pushed them to test out “Display Advertising” as it applies to direct buys and third-party management. While it may take a little more work (there is a longer process attached to display advertising buys) it’s worth noting you can negotiate a variety of factors in those buys that you can’t as easily maneuver on Google’s Display Network. For example – position of ads, combo ad buys, site takeovers, partner site buys, ban on competitor buys, etc. are all things you can negotiate with sites when you do Display Advertising in-house. It all comes down to control. You lose control and miss out on opportunities when you only go through Google’s network.

One other thing to consider is the business development side of Display Advertising. In the past we have run ads on sites less for ROI but more for halo effect marketing, and business development. Reaching out to sites for a press kit and pricing can kick off fruitful relationships that lead to partnerships, content distribution, and so much more, but you can’t get that if you simply flip a switch in your Adwords interface, or the Google Adwords Editor.

I am a huge fan of pushing the limits when it comes to Display Advertising. Test your options against each other and weigh out the grander picture of pros and cons. I’ve always found those advertisers that fail to grow display campaigns beyond Google’s Network tend to stagnate in every sense of the word—ads don’t get updated, landing pages don’t get tested, bidding creativity gets stunted, and so on and so forth. It might take a little more time, and put you in a learning position at first, but seriously  — go try out other display advertising options out there. You won’t regret it.

3) How can a company use remarketing without having site visitors think they’re being stalked across the web?

This question makes me laugh a little bit because when I set up my first retargeting campaign I got the tracking all sorts of wrong (read more about that here) and ended up stalking every visitor to SEOmoz. Uhmmm sorry about that everyone. The truth of it is there is a lot you can do to make sure your retargeting efforts are effective without being invasive.

First off, make sure your tracking is solid. It sound’s so simple but so many advertisers get this wrong. The truth is the more complex and creative you get with audiences on your site the more likely you are to forget to place a burn pixel and all of a sudden you are double or triple serving ads to one person. You need to make sure the burn pixel covers everyone – no matter how they convert, log-in, take action, etc. If they shouldn’t be in a certain audience then get them out of there. Those audiences that have been removed from your active buckets can create their own buckets for other campaigns with goals like retention, branding, feedback, etc. So first off – use the burn pixel effectively!

Secondly, cover yourself legally. Legal what? Yeah exactly. Make sure somewhere you have clearly stated that visitors to your site may be cookied and that may be used in future advertising efforts. This usually goes in the Terms of Use or Privacy Policy. By making sure this is clearly stated you will always have a place to point someone to when they get riled up about being placed in a cookie pool and advertised too.

Lastly, communicate, communicate, communicate. This is one of those steps that so many people don’t give enough weight to. What do I mean by communicate? Send out an email to the company letting them know you have kicked off a retargeting test. Explain to them what this means, and let them know how to handle people that may complain of being stalked across the web. If you have a blog (which let’s be real…we all should) consider writing a post about how you will be testing this, and set the expectation that you are hoping this will be a successful venture for the company. Preemptively silence the possible complaints form your community, members, visitors. Then the biggest part to this – when someone does complain (whether its via Twitter, on FB, in a blog post, etc.) make sure to treat that complaint with respect. Give it the time and explanation it warrants. Only be explain your goals, and admitting when you might have done something wrong, can you win back the trust and patience of your audience.

I have certainly done my fair share of “over serving” when it comes to retargeting, but I’ve learned that admitting my “impression spend was too high” or my ”tracking was messed up,” has done wonders. It’s helped me learn in a more transparent and accountable way, and has served our community better as well.

All and all retargeting is another great tool for us advertisers to use, but just like all the other channels out there – you must learn it first through trial and error. Give yourself a break, and be patience as you nail it all down. This is a channel that goes beyond your personal site experience so be responsible with it, and hopefully you will see profitable results, and customers will be happy to see you around the web.

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