8 Questions You Need To Ask Your Retargeting Vendor

Written by Tim Edmundson


Choosing the right retargeting solution isn’t easy. Even worse is after you’ve chosen, having to switch vendors or realizing you need to rely on several different solutions to meet your needs, is inefficient.

Between all the buzzwords and marketing claims, it’s hard to determine which marketing platform is the best fit for your business. Here are just a few questions that will steer you down the road towards a lasting vendor relationship.


“Reach” refers to the sites where your visitors can be found after they leave your website. Ask if your vendor has direct integrations with every source of real-time inventory (Google, Yahoo, AppNexus, etc). They should also have access to premium inventory sources through private marketplaces. And don’t forget the new social media exchanges, like Facebook Exchange (FBX), when considering a vendor’s reach.
Long story short: These integrations are the norm for the industry, so if your vendor isn’t tapped into all of them, you should ask why.


“Effective” retargeting means using intent signals from multiple sources rather than only relying on your website data alone. Adding intent data, such as inbound searches that lead to a site visit, will vastly improve your retargeting capabilities. With more intent data, you’ll be able to convert more customers more effectively than with standard retargeting alone. Equally important when it comes to the effectiveness and overall cost of your campaign, you’ll also be able to determine which visitors shouldn’t be retargeted.
Long story short: Your vendor needs to be able to combine first-party data in real time using a pixel placed on your site, with intent data from multiple sources.


“Recency” refers to the amount of time that passes between data collection and retargeting of site visitors. It’s often crucial to retarget customers before their attention is gone. This is especially true with low-involvement intent, where sales cycles tend to be shorter. Customers change their minds quickly and often, but many vendors still use outdated data-processing technology that can take hours, sometimes even a full day, to identify audiences. Such slowness is simply unacceptable for an industry that made its name on real-time bidding. Make sure you know which technology your vendor is using and whether the data processing and target identification is actually happening in real time.
Long story short: While SteelHouse is one of the vendors that does provide audience targeting in real time, this is not the norm for the industry. However, a delay of a few hours is the difference between a conversion and another abandonment.


“Granularity” is the practice of retargeting at the most individual level possible. Retargeting is a breakthrough technology because it allows you to target the right person at the right time. But not every vendor can fulfill that promise. If you want to be certain that your retargeting can be tailored to any audience, then don’t be shy when asking vendors about their technology. Specifically, you want to know whether the technology is built to retarget your potential customers with personalized relevant ads, as opposed to providing only a more generic, blanket solution. Additionally, you’ll want to know if there is a cap on the number of audience segments you are able to create and save.
Long story short: While only individual companies and marketing teams will know what works for them, just remember you can always aggregate into bigger groups. You want to be able to make and save unlimited audience segments. As a rule – the more granular the better.


“Agility” comes down to your vendor’s ability to improve your campaigns over time. Always ask vendors about their optimization practices and whether they’re using dynamic creative for more personalized targeting. Even more importantly, try to determine the number of people who will be working on your campaign. Your vendor should have a combination of optimizations managers who run the campaign day-to-day and also support people who identify key patterns and test the latest optimization tactics.
Long story short: Your vendor should use a combination of technology and dedicated experts to optimize your campaign. They should have best practices in place around timing and testing, but discuss process for them to make changes quicker when needed.


What’s going on behind the scenes is important, but what are your ads really going to look like? You’re competing for attention, so your ads are going to have to be engaging. But you shouldn’t have to pay an arm and a leg to have rich media ads built. Ads that can easily be customized are the best way to get your brand noticed. Based on your goals, you will want access to ads with video backgrounds, dynamic 3D product carousels, multiple scenes, and countdown timers.
Long story short: Demand high quality ads that leverage your existing creative element to ensure your ads are on brand. You should have a variety of ad features at your disposal to ensure your ads get noticed – or else, move on to the next vendor.


Mobile constitutes a growing portion of all Internet traffic; in fact mobile usage overtook desktop in 2014, accounting for 60% of time spent online. The reality is we live in a multiscreen world, so your retargeting must not only be able to reach across multiple devices, your ads need to be tailored to each device. Cross device targeting is not the same as mobile segmentation. Knowing the difference and which you need will help you make sure you hit your goals on mobile.
Long story short: Your vendor should be able to reach your audience on any device. They should be able to target based on device in addition to launch device specific campaigns.


Beware of “black box” marketing solutions that hide your campaign analytics or only show you some of the story. “Transparency” starts with being aware of all the websites where your ads are running and being certain that they’re all brand-safe websites. Also, make sure you understand how your vendor eliminates questionable traffic. A good vendor should have sound technology for identifying non-human traffic, click fraud, and low-quality publisher websites. Ask vendors if they have a team of experts who inspect and report suspicious sites, traffic, and clicks.
Long story short: Be suspicious of vendors without reporting dashboards where you can easily access the data yourself. If you can actually customize your own reports, even better. Don’t play the waiting game when it comes to your campaign data. You do not want to choose a vendor who requires a person behind the scenes to pull each report for you while you wait for it to be emailed.

Asking the right questions in the beginning is the best way to make sure you’re choosing a vendor you can build a long-term partnership with. Hopefully we’ve got you thinking about what matters to you the most, given your budget and marketing goals. Good luck on your quest!