Retargeting: So Money, Baby

Mike: So how long do I wait to call?

Trent: Tomorrow… then a day.

Mike: So two days?

Trent: Yeah, I guess you could call it, two days… You know, I used to wait two days to call anybody, but now it’s like everyone in town waits two days. So I think three days is kind of money. What do you think?

Sue: Yeah, but two’s enough to not look anxious.

Trent: Yeah, but I think three days is kind of money…

Mike: Yeah, but you know what, maybe I’ll wait three weeks. How’s that? And tell her I was cleaning out my wallet and I just happened to run into her number.

– Swingers, 1996

Retargeting is to marketers what dating is to single people – not essential but very worthwhile if you can get it right – IF. As Mikey in Swingers knew too well, it’s easy to scare away your target. But done skilfully, retargeting is an elegant courtship… okay, maybe not elegant but definitely better than speed-dialling messages to someone’s answering machine.

Most of us have been exposed to that banner ad for a BBQ or couch we bought two years ago that just keeps on coming and coming. You can be pretty confident of some wasted ad dollars on those campaigns! But by working with the right media partner (aka Discover Media House) you’ll avoid that mistake and substantially up your odds of turning a random pass into a sure bet. Here are some tips and tricks we’ve picked up.

Generally, a very small fraction of consumers become buyers at first exposure to your offering… nothing personal, just human nature. Retargeting works by courting the large percentage that don’t initially convert by serving ads based on a prior engagement. #TECHALERT: The actual mechanics of retargeting are a little complex, but to boil it down to essentials, a retargeting service provider puts one or more pixels on the marketer’s website. A pixel is an invisible piece of code that tells the browsers of computers visiting the website to download and store cookies with information which is subsequently read by pixels on other websites in the retargeter’s domain and results in the appropriate ads being served to the consumers.

Here are the basic types of retargeting:

  1. Site Retargeting
    This is where the game all started – consumers will visit a marketer’s site, for example shopping for a dress on the H&M website, and when they go to another, ostensibly unrelated website like the Weather Network and…. Bam! There’s that dress. If the Weather Network has more page impressions available than ads they have sold, they will contract out those impressions to retargeters. Note that the Weather Network wouldn’t typically do a deal with a retargeter directly; instead, the ad impressions will be purchased through an ad exchange (essentially a big online stock market for ad impressions). Keep in mind that you can add additional layers of targeting based on actions taken by the consumer – called behavioural targeting. For example, if it’s the middle of winter and the consumer shops for a variety of dresses and bathing suits, a retargeter might serve them ads for tropical travel destinations.
  2. Search Retargeting
    Unlike the way site retargeting aims to reconnect with visitors to your site, search retargeting sets out to attract new visitors. Businesses can utilize keyword data to target consumers based on their search history. For example, a marketer like Expedia might be promoting travel to Mexico and might work with Google or MAGNE+IC to analyze user’s search terms on a search engine to determine who has the greatest likelihood of booking travel to Mexico. Like the date who correctly guesses your meal order, Google knows you better than you think!
  3. Email Retargeting
    As with site and search, email retargeting also uses cookies. Here a cookie is triggered by a pixel in the email signature. Rather than bombarding your email list with repeated offers in their inbox, you can work with a retargeter to serve ads to your email recipients when they are surfing the web.
  4. Social Retargeting
    In the same vein as site retargeting, social retargeting involves placing a pixel on your social page (i.e. Facebook, Twitter, etc.). If you’re a travel company, for example, you could use social retargeting to engage travelers as they view their friends’ vacation photos on Facebook and drive high quality traffic from an audience you custom tailor for yourself.

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Once you figured out the venue for retargeting, it’s time to practice your moves. It’s fine to be attracted to the idea of retargeting, but first quickly ask yourself why do I want to retarget? Then set a strategy with clear parameters for success, and finally consider the following tactics:

Frequency capping – This is what Mikey needed on his telephone. You can set the maximum number of times a consumer is exposed to an ad, typically daily, weekly or monthly. Unlike dating,15-20 times per month is a good general rule in web marketing.

Audience Segmentation – By dividing your audience up into different buckets based on how far down your purchase funnel they got to (e.g. homepage vs. shopping cart vs. customer feedback page), you can deliver them customized messages that correspond to their different levels of purchase intent.

Creative Rotation and Testing – Just as you wouldn’t wear the same gettup to the every date you have with someone, as a marketer, you need to keep the message, look and feel fresh. Try out different lines so you find out what actually works, versus what sounds good in front of the mirror!

Don’t badger people – Once you’ve converted your target, turn your sites elsewhere, so you don’t annoy the person you’ve spent time and money to attract. An easy way to do this is to put a “burn pixel” on a post-transaction page. It removes your cookies from the consumer’s browser and stops serving them ads.

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OK, baby, it’s time to get out there and start retargeting. Be careful with the bear claws, but don’t be too shy. Be money, make money. You definitely got this!

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