Why you need to know about retargeted marketing

By Julia Keady

When you visit a site, it drops a cookie called a 'retargeting pixel' and businesses can then target you with advertisements.

Have you ever noticed that when you're considering buying a particular car you suddenly see them everywhere? This is the result of how your brain prioritises attention, not some weird car conspiracy. On the other hand, if you've recently visited a website or searched a product and suddenly you see their ads all over the rest of the internet, this is probably the result of a deliberate action called 'retargeted marketing'.

What you may not have known is that when you visited their site they dropped a cookie called a 'retargeting pixel' into your browser, and they've been following you around to put their advertisements in front of your eyes ever since. Clever, right? And if you are an online business it's probably something you should be thinking about doing - if you're not already.

There are three main types of retargeting.

1. Search retargeting

When someone uses a particular search term, they are signalling their interest in, and possibly their intent to buy, a particular product or service. Search retargeting uses their search term as the filter to drop ads into their browsing experience that are related. Because it's only an indication rather than a lead, search retargeting is useful for getting someone to your site with a special offer or building your brand in their awareness.

2. Site retargeting

This is where someone has come to your site and left without making a purchase. Your site drops a pixel on them and then your ads start appearing in their internet experience. At this level, you have more information, such as which products they reviewed, so you can start putting more targeted ads in front of them. If they just visited the homepage, maybe a testimonial from a satisfied customer will help build trust in your brand. If they looked at a particular product or service then you can send them ads that testify to its effectiveness, a price-match guarantee, a special deal or a favourable comparison to the competition.

3. Third-party retargeting

This is where someone visits another site offering a related product and that site allows you to drop your cookie on them. For instance, someone who booked a ocean cruise may well be looking for a new set of luggage, and the cruising and luggage companies have made an arrangement to cross promote. Retargeting pixels are now starting to appear on popular blogs, social media and even email newsletters.

Some businesses go as far as to have multiple landing pages that feature specific categories of products and hundreds of ads that are coded and ready to go. It's a bit like having to bait your hook after you've seen what type of fish is swimming by, but you can chase the fish wherever it goes without it knowing you're there.

Retargeting is not something that most businesses can do on their own. Because you need access to a large network of advertising exchanges to get your ad in front of the customer, you will need to go through an internet ad agency or retargeting provider. There are numerous providers including Chango, Adroll, Retargeter, Reachlocal and Lexity, just to name a few. Even Twitter is talking about offering it, and of course your major search engines have been using it for years (that's why they want you to make them your 'default' browser).

Would you like a second, third or fourth bite at that customer who dropped in to look at the menu but didn't stay for dinner? See what retargeting can do for your business.


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