Retargeter Blog

A Brief Introduction to Retargeting

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Retargeting is a hot topic in the online advertising space. If you aren’t using it as a part of your digital marketing strategy, you’re probably being retargeted right now by someone who is.

Despite the fact that retargeting (referred to as remarketing by Google) has become an established part of the digital marketing lexicon, many marketers are still unfamiliar with how it works and when it should be used.

What is Retargeting?

Retargeting is the practice of serving ads based on prior engagement. While there is more than one form of this technology, the most frequently used is site-based retargeting. (Other forms include search retargeting, email retargeting, and CRM retargeting.)

Site-based retargeting is the practice of serving ads to people who visit your website after they leave. These ads appear on a variety of other sites around the web, keeping your brand in front of your bounced site visitors in an attempt to bring them back.

How Retargeting Works

How Does It Work?

Site-based retargeting uses cookies to stay in front of previous site visitors. When someone visits your website, a few lines of code provided by your retargeter will drop an anonymous browser cookie. This cookie is a small file that stores information. The cookie will store the site visit, but does not store any sensitive information, such as the site visitor’s name, address or any other piece of information that might personally identify the visitor.

When someone comes to your site, a cookie is dropped, and eventually, they leave and visit another site. The cookie lets your retargeter know when one of your bounced visitors appears on another site. If there is available ad space, your retargeter will bid on that space in real-time, and if they are the highest bidder, will secure the ad space before the page loads.

This entire process is automated and occurs within a fraction of a second. By the time the page loads, the ad space will have been purchased and your ad will appear alongside the page content.

Who Can Benefit From Retargeting?

The prototypical use case is the Zappos example: you visit Zappos, look at a pair of shoes, and leave the site without buying. Then you see Zappos ads all over the web.

This example describes the process simply and effectively, yet its ubiquity may help reinforce the misconception that retargeting is only an ecommerce solution.

Retargeting is very commonly used by ecommerce companies, and rightfully so, as it is one of the most effective ways to bring back bounced traffic and combat shopping cart abandonment. However, ecommerce companies are certainly not the only businesses that can benefit from this technology.

B2B companies are often the perfect candidates for retargeting, as it can help them stay in front of leads during longer purchase cycles. Schools, particularly higher education, can use retargeting to increase enrollment and donations. Recruiters can use retargeting to keep their companies in front of qualified applicants and increase application completion rates. Events or entertainment brands can use retargeting to increase ticket or merchandise sales.

And these are just a few examples. Ultimately, any website that does not see 100% conversion rates is a great candidate.

Getting Started and Avoiding Pitfalls

It sounds easy to set up and launch a retargeting campaign (and it is), but it’s also easy to make mistakes that end up doing more harm than good. If you’re interested in starting a campaign, be sure to thoroughly educate yourself on best practices, or work with a full-service provider who will manage your campaign for you.

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