A brief explanation of retargeting

It’s becoming increasingly common. After visiting a certain website, you are faced with banner ads of that particular website. This type of banner advertising has a name: retargeting banners. It’s a way of online advertising which is very effective for the advertiser’s brand awareness.

Retargeting = Remarketing

Retargeting is also known as remarketing or behavioral advertising. It offers the opportunity to advertise in a targeted way, based on the interests of your prospect. The interests of the visitor are taking into account. These interests are determined by the historical surfing behavior of the visitor. In a way retargeting advertising can be described as surf based advertising. Retargeting is a behaviour oriented advertising technique and is seen as one of the most effective ways of online display advertising.

Two examples

Example of customer retargeting

Imagine you’re a car dealer of Ford. Someone is looking for a (second hand) car. To gather more information about cars, the person visits several websites. Your website is amongst them. On your website the person visits the page on which the second hand cars you offer for sale are presented. Later on, when the person visits an online portal of second hand cars, your banner with second hand cars appears. In the banner ad, even one of the second hand cars that the person looked at before, on your website, shows up. That is retargeting.

Example of site retargeting

Imagine you’re a car dealer of Volkswagen and the proud owner of a beautiful website. On your website you offer both new cars and second hand cars. If a visitor of your website looks at the details of a certain car, the option of a free test ride is given. In Google Analytics you notice that there is a large amount of visitors that check the details of cars. However, the amount of visitors that clicks the button to make a free ride is rather disappointing. In order to convince the group of people that clicked on car details to make a free test ride, you are planning to show this specific group of visitors a special banner ad with a special offer. You show them a banner with the offer that only today they get a free “car wash & shine package” when they register for a test ride. This specific banner ad is only shown to a selected group of people. That is retargeting as well.

Advantages of retargeting / remarketing

– With remarketing you show a tailored message to a selected public. This means the relevance of your banner campaign increases enormously, leading to good results.

– Your  banner ads are shown on websites with a lot of visitors, such as portals, making it possible to reach a large amount of people. Because you’re advertising on a targeted group, it still is a very cost effective way of advertising.

– Retargeting allows you to exclude your existing customers from seeing the banner ad. This leads to less waste, and thus the effectiveness of your campaign increases.

– As you’re showing a relevant banner ad, it is much more likely your target group will accept your banner ad and develop a positive sentiment towards your company/brand. This has a positive effect on the complete surfing experience.

– For publishers of advertising websites, retargeting banners have a positive effect as well. It allows them to show their visitors advertisements that meet their needs. They are experienced as more positive, making people less eager to click away.

How does it work?

First of all, in order to follow your visitor, you need to be able to identify him/her. To be able to do this, you need to add a single piece of Javascript code to your own website. This piece of code allows you to distribute retargeting cookies to the visitors of your website. Of course, the visitors first need to give permission before installing the cookies. You’re only acting legally if the visitor has given permission to install the cookies (your cookies are opt-in). After accepting the cookies, the surfing details of your visitor will be (anonymously) collected and analyzed.

The information the  cookie collects can be used in different ways for marketing activities. A few options are:

Site retargeting: You follow the visitors from the moment they enter your website. You see exactly what their interests are and when they leave your website. This provides you with detailed information regarding the behavior of your visitors on your website.

Customer retargeting: You can divide your website visitors in different categories, based on their behavior on your website. For instance, visitors that left during the order process, visitors that visited a certain page on your website, visitors that watched a certain video, etc. These visitors have shown a specific interest in one of your products or services. Now you know that, you can approach them in a targeted way with the right message. And that’s the key of remarketing or retargeting banner ads. When your ex-visitor visits another website (that offers advertising options), your banner will show up. Your ex-visitor will be reminded of your company/products/services. The banner is aimed at convincing your ex-visitor to reconsider doing a certain action (like ordering your products/services). As the banner shows information that is relevant, based on the interests of your prospect, it will be effective. Almost any website that sells advertising space, offers the option to use retargeting banner ads. This means retargeting can be applied widely.

Exclusion filtering: Once a visitor has completed the order process on your website, it is of no use anymore to approach this client to buy the same product or service. To avoid your existing customers being confronted with the special offers for customers-to-be, you can place them on a separate list. This is the exclusion list. Persons on this list won’t see the retargeting banner ads.

Don’t overreact

Of course, being able to advertise in such a targeted way is great. But take care you don’t exaggerate and turn your company into a banner stalker. Make sure you don’t pass the irritation limit. A positive sentiment easily turns into a negative association with your company. And you don’t want that to happen! By defining the amount of displays of your banner, you can prevent your client from developing negative emotions towards your company. This is called the frequency cap. By setting a frequency cap, you can define that your banner is shown maximally x times to a certain person. After that, the specific banner is not shown anymore to that person.

Creating a retargeting banner campaign

You can set up your own retargeting campaigns in Google Adwords. It is also possible to make use of the advertising options the large portals and advertising networks offer. A lot of these organizations offer a possibility to show your banner ad based on the behavior of the visitors of the portal or advertising network. In that case your banner ad will only be shown to visitors that are looking for a specific product or service.

Retargeting offers a lot of opportunities. However, it only works optimally when you use good banner ads with a convincing message and a clear call to action. Think thoroughly what specific message you are going to tell for which group of people and you’ll be happy with the results coming from your banner campaign!

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