The Truth About Retargeting

Written by Tim Edmundson

Retargeting your audience can be the most powerful tool to increase conversions, raise brand awareness, and increase ROI – if done correctly. The trouble is that Retargeting myths and misconceptions can easily affect your campaign performance. So let’s break it down.

How Does It Work?

By definition, Retargeting is a cookie-based technology that uses a simple Javascript code to “follow” your audience all over the Web. Following your audience gives them a chance to explore elsewhere, but allows you stay on their mind.

How Do I Create a Retargeting Campaign?

Creating a Retargeting campaign involves placing a small code or pixel onto your site. This code allows an anonymous cookie to be dropped on all visitors, so when your cookied visitors begin surfing the web again, they are retargeted with your ads.

How Can I Go Wrong?

1.  Static Bidding | Instead, bid based on your audience segment value. Many people equate frequency caps with effective ad serving when in fact, effective Retargeting requires segmenting your audience and bidding accordingly. While there is value in limiting the number of ads served to a single user, it should not be a static figure used for all viewers, rather a figure adjusted by potential. Viewers exhibiting a high potential for conversion should be bid on more aggressively, compared to a one-page viewer with low value.

2.  One Ad Fits All | Instead, customize your ads based on your audience segment. Nobody wants to see the same ad all day and you shouldn’t expect one ad to speak to every type of audience. Not only could this cause your viewer to lose trust for your brand, but click through rates are likely to decrease. By designing your ads based on segments, viewers in the high potential segment could be served more enticing ads better leading them down the path to conversion. Also, make sure your ads are diverse in visuals and messaging. This helps steer away from general branding ads that people see all too often.

3.  Expecting a Larger Audience Pool | Instead, Retargeting should be expected to guide your site visitors through the conversion funnel. Many think that because more ads are being served, their audience will grow. Retargeting does not increase your audience, instead it helps the viewers who have already been to your site, find their way back. Retargeting is focused on pushing previously cookied viewers further down the funnel, so focus more on how to get viewers back. To increase your audience pool, have your marketing vendor set up an acquisition campaign like SteelHouse’s Look-alike Targeting.

4.  Tagging Only Popular Pages | Instead, make sure your retargeting pixel is on ALL your pages. Tagging only your most popular pages may seem like a useful shortcut, but doing this will limit your cookied viewers. With a smaller amount of viewers, your reach and potential audience will also be limited.

5.  Settling for Limited Ad Space Inventory | Instead, access higher quality inventory with Real Time Bidding. Many think that retargeting only accesses low quality or remnant inventory, but the implementation of Real Time Bidding (RTB) eliminates that completely. RTB allows online advertisers to place bids on ad space that comes up for auction within seconds, so it is possible to access high-quality inventory for your retargeting.

6.  Using Multiple Vendors | Instead, find a vendor capable of running all your digital marketing campaigns from one place. Sometimes in business it makes sense to generate revenue from different sources at the same time to test which vendor works best, but it does not work for Retargeting. Doing this just means you’re bidding against yourself, making your ads cost more and lowering your return on ad spend. You can stick to one vendor and continue running control groups to determine attribution.

Seems simple enough, but these common misconceptions and myths will be sure to break your budget and kill your chances of campaign conversions.

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