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Retargeting – retrieve your potential customers (but don’t stalk them)

By webadmin on 3. July 2015.

There is an option that elevates advertising to a completely new level. It comes in the form of a concept called retargeting. The name itself hints the basic idea, but let’s instead start with a little parable set in real life:

One day I went to a store to check out some sneakers and found a pair that I liked in the very first shop. Unfortunately, the price was slightly above my budget, so I decided to postpone my shopping.

A couple of days later, I stopped at an electronics store to get some batteries. When I entered, the salesman from the shoe store was there, so he came over to me and said: “Hey, do you still want to buy those sneakers? We have a sale that starts tomorrow.” I was surprised that he remembered me, but thanked him for the heads-up and went on about my business.

However, because of that chance encounter, not only did I eventually end up wearing those sneakers that I liked, I also managed to save a few extra pennies in my piggy bank.


Focusing on people’s interests

Retargeting, also known as remarketing, is a technology usually based on cookies, intended for tracking users on the internet.

It works like this: a certain code is inserted into a website, not visible to the end user, or in any way affecting the behavior of the website. When the end user visits the website which contains said code, a cookie is stored onto his device.

As the user visits other websites that serve the retargeting campaign created by the owner of the website we mentioned, the cookie provides information on sites the user visited previously, i.e. what their interests are.

At that moment, based on campaign setup, the user is served ads containing the topic or the brand which they already showed interest in. Our recent experiences with AdCumulus show that this concept significantly supports conversion.


What is lost can be found

When users open a landing page or a web shop, few of them will finalize the purchase, or in industry terms, convert. This does not necessary mean that they have completely abandoned the idea of purchasing the product and that they are forever lost.

It might be simply that their attention was diverted elsewhere while they were browsing through the offer.

Retargeting enables the return of strayed users so they can continue their conversion process. Usually it refers to purchase, filling out forms, leaving contact information, etc.

On the other hand, you can separately segment already converted users and offer them additional information about the product they just bought, up-sell or cross-sell.

These methods increase brand awareness and elevate the brand a step above the competition, creating an image of a trendsetter. Along with already stated benefits, this contributes to more efficient advertising and prudent allocation of advertising resources.


Beware of the traps of retargeting

However useful, retargeting sometimes gets a bad rap, which we’ll try to explain briefly.

Imagine that the first paragraph of this text isn’t just a made up story meant to stir your interest. Instead, imagine that the salesman from the beginning of this text remained persistent in his efforts, following our main character around, while repeating the same message over and over again.

Aggressive, tactless and not at all polite – that would have been an example of bad retargeting. The consequences cannot be positive or cost effective.

Retargeting campaigns must be reasonable, and frequency capping is a must-have. You must carefully dose impressions per each user; otherwise, you will come across as a pushy salesperson stalking and harassing potential customers.


Similarly, user tracking is an activity often frowned upon.

When people hear the word ‘tracking’, it probably triggers thoughts about grim scenarios in the digital age, where big, evil corporations are snooping on everyone and using valuable personal data without anyone’s knowledge.

However, the real situation in this case is far from it.

We need to emphasize that the tracking at hand here is anonymous and the data in question is stored locally on user’s device. It’s not about getting personal information from users, like their names and addresses.

It’s essentially about a mechanism, which will provide a potentially interesting ad. Would you rather see ads for car tires while you are looking to buy a new iron, or an ad for a home appliances discount?


Can you handle the power?

It’s been proven that retargeting is another mighty weapon, which helps you achieve better results for less money. On the other hand, a bad case of retargeting can create aversion towards the brand and tarnish the brand image.

With additional upgrades and more substantial data on which retargeting decisions are based, this technology will continue its ascent. At least until predictive marketing takes over, which is, by the way, already peeking around the corner. Predictive marketing enables user targeting not based on their past actions, but on actions that they are yet to perform.

Regardless of its wrong perception, retargeting is a tool which enables you to (gently) tug on your prospective users’ sleeve. However, always keep in mind that quote we all know – ‘With great power comes great responsibility.’



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