Behavioral Retargeting

by Jul 2, 2020

Sounds Serious, Feels Creepy, Works Anyway

Behavioral retargeting (or simply retargeting), is the mechanism whereby internet ads follow you around the internet. Creepy, scary, and irritating are three descriptions that are typically shared by individuals who fall under its control. For those of us who research subjects or products we have no interest in purchasing personally, retargeting is especially irritating. Just the other day I was researching industrial solvents, and now every webpage I visit with display advertising features an ad for a certain brand of industrial solvent.

Nonetheless, retargeting can be an effective option for advertisers, and its implementation is simple.

How It Works

When you visit a specific website or search on a specific product where retargeting is active, a piece of JavaScript called a pixel activates a cookie in your browser. The cookie notifies retargeting services to send ads to sites you visit, and as if by magic, ads for the product will appear in subsequent webpage activity. Taking this one step further, if you visit a website and browse several products, dynamic retargeting will create custom ads of those products and present them to you in subsequent webpage activity. Further, contextual retargeting is the practice of presenting products based on search history, on complimentary websites. A good example would be suddenly seeing ads for athletic shoes on workout sites after you’ve been researching a new pair for yourself.

Advertising is all about impressions and frequency of impression, and retargeting is a constant reminder that you need to purchase the products you recently viewed (unless you are looking at industrial solvents and have no real need for industrial solvents).

A more subtle version of retargeting is the common practice of presenting recommended products on websites you have browsed before. The website recognizes you by a cookie and presents products based on prior browsing history — which is slightly different in that the products don’t follow you around the internet!

Is It Effective?

Marketers use retargeting because it can improve campaign conversion rates. People are visiting websites, bouncing off, and abandoning carts, and this is reflected in Google Analytics.

So the primary question to Marketing becomes: How can we be more effective with what we have? Then, other questions follow. Do we change our content or our layout? How do we create more impressions without dramatically increasing our marketing cost?  Therefore, retargeting is a way of dramatically increasing impressions, without dramatically increasing cost. Because retargeting increases the frequency of impressions, it can also be used in awareness campaigns — if, for example, you want to build brand recognition.

There is one major pitfall to retargeting you should be aware of if you are considering using it, which is: Consider the fear factor. Prospective customers may be turned off if your ads are following them around, and while you may get more impressions, they will not be good impressions. A subset of your audience will be concerned that your brand is spying on them.

You can mitigate this by limiting the frequency of impressions. Not only does it reduce the feeling of being stalked for the fearful in your audience — it also reduces ad saturation and ad fatigue for everyone else.

Further Information

Should you elect to try a retargeting program, determine whether you are going to use the campaign for conversions or awareness, and put your plan in place. There are a number of retargeting services available, including AdRoll, ReTargeter, and Perfect Audience. With online conversion rates for consumer goods hovering around 3%, many marketers consider retargeting a viable method of boosting conversion rates. These services offer complete packages which will integrate into your martech stack, and they include analytics so you can measure your progress.

If you need help with retargeting or creating a B2B advertising strategy, contact us for a 30-minute consultation.

<a href="https://foundertraction.com/author/gerry/" target="_self">Gerry Broski</a>

Gerry Broski

Born in Cleveland Ohio, Gerry has a long and colorful career working in marketing, sales and product management for tech-driven companies. He’s worked with teams and managed projects and people to successfully develop new products, penetrate new markets and generate positive results. Creative, inquisitive, and an avid reader, Gerry is now focused on using his skills and experience to help others navigate the wild world of digital marketing as a member of the FounderTraction Team.

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