ReTargeter Blog

The Top 5 Retargeting Myths

Retargeting is a highly effective marketing tool that targets your ads to people who have already expressed interest in your site. It allows you to focus on the people who are in-market and remind them how great your product is or why going with your service is the right decision. When run correctly, retargeting can perform incredibly well and result in the amazing ROI and brand lift you may have heard about. Despite the fact that retargeting has become an established part of the digital marketing vocabulary, many misconceptions still exist surrounding the technology.

Here are the top 5 retargeting myths, and why you can ignore them:

Myth #1: Retargeting Only Works for Retail

There is a common misconception that retargeting is purely an e-commerce solution. This confusion may, in part, stem from the fact that the most common explanation for how retargeting works is the “Zappos example:” You visit Zappos, look at a pair of shoes, and after abandoning your purchase you begin to see shoe ads all over the web. Nevertheless, retargeting can often provide significant benefits for B2B companies and in some cases even performs better than it does for retailers.

Any B2B company that uses a free trial, has a freemium product, engages in active lead generation, or runs lead nurturing campaigns can use retargeting to increase conversions and drive revenue. If your business offers a free trial, serving retargeted ads can encourage your trial users to come back and complete the final steps to enroll in your service. Similarly, if you’’re encouraging post-trial sign-ups via email, email retargeting offers additional touch points without inundating inboxes.

If you are devoting traffic to a lead capture form or a landing page, retargeting can help keep your brand top of mind while users are in the evaluation process. This is especially helpful in a B2B context because the sales cycles tend to be longer than in B2C transactions. Serving retargeted ads will keep your company ahead of the competition, and nurture leads through the funnel.

Myth #2: Retargeting is Only for Big Companies

Retargeting is a powerful tool for both enterprise companies and small companies alike. No matter what your budget, retargeting is a high-ROI tool that can help you look bigger than you are online, compete with established players in your space, and increase your conversion rates.

Retargeting lets you dramatically expand your online visibility, and look as big as your biggest competitor. Large businesses can afford to buy banner ads on all of the major ad networks, but that’s just too expensive for small businesses. With retargeting, small businesses can create the impression of online ubiquity by only serving ads to people who have expressed prior interest in your brand. While the outcome is the same– the appearance that your company is huge and has incredible online reach– your spend will only be a fraction of that of your largest competitors.

Myth #3: It’’s Only for Direct Response

Retargeting is often associated with direct response campaigns, but a significant percentage of Internet users are just not clicking on ads. Even in the absence of a click, a return visit can still be influenced by a retargeted ad. In fact, when it comes to retargeting and display in general, most return visits come through direct visits or through search. One comScore study found that brands saw up to a 1046% increase in branded search, or users searching directly for the brand name, during retargeting campaigns. This massive increase in branded search is a clear indicator that retargeting is highly successful in building brand awareness and isn’’t only effective for direct response campaigns.

As evidenced by the decline of clickers, only measuring clicks can devalue your campaign, and lead to improper optimization. The view-through conversion, a conversion which occurs after an ad is viewed but not clicked, serves as a valuable metric for your retargeting campaign.  The success of your retargeting campaign is dependent on your goals, and you must set your metrics accordingly to ensure you are investing in the channels that are driving revenue.

Myth #4: Retargeting Only Accesses Remnant Inventory

When first introduced, RTB was primarily seen as a mechanism for monetizing remnant ad inventory. As a result of the early days, there remains concern that programmatic buying only provides access to low-quality inventory, but this is simply no longer the case. Today, premium inventory is increasingly becoming accessible through RTB, and the technology is evolving from both the buy side and the sell side. According to the IDC, RTB display advertising will accelerate at a 59% compound annual growth rate through 2016 with global spending to reach an estimated $13.9 billion.

For advertisers, real-time bidding provides greater transparency, flexibility, and control when it comes to their purchases. On the publisher side, making all inventory, not just remnant, accessible via RTB has proven to be a lucrative option. Releasing inventory to RTB means advertisers can set their parameters, fine-tune their targeting segments, and buy inventory across countless sites, all without having to deal with publishers directly. Like any other efficient market, RTB subjects inventory to supply and demand, ensuring both publishers and advertisers are collectively determining the value of each transaction.

Myth #5: It Doesn’t Respect User Privacy

There is a large misconception that retargeting abuses user privacy. Retargeting pixels do not collect any personally identifiable information (PII). This includes names, addresses, or IP addresses, which means all targeting is done completely anonymously. Retargeting uses cookies, which are small text files that store information. In the context of retargeting, a cookie stores anonymous data about whether or not a user has visited a certain site, which allows advertisers to focus their ads only on people who have been to their site before. So, why the confusion?

Retargeting providers who fail to follow best practices are largely responsible for the negative association with retargeting and user privacy. When users visit your site and then begin to see your ad everywhere, it’’s no surprise that they might feel an invasion of privacy. Frequency caps will limit the number of impressions a user sees so that your brand can stay top of mind without being annoying. Similarly, a burn code will ensure you stop serving ads to users who have already converted (i.e. made a purchase or submitted a lead). Successful campaigns will always implement a frequency cap and a burn code.


The first step to any successful retargeting campaign is to understand how retargeting can work for your company. When used correctly, retargeting serves a valuable component of any marketing mix. If you were apprehensive because you’d only heard the rumors, now you know that retargeting works for businesses of all sizes and brands of all kinds. If it isn’t already, make sure retargeting is part of your digital marketing budget.



Case Study – Watters

Watters Logo | ReTargeter

Watters is the brainchild of designer Vatana Watters. For over 30 years, it has been the leader in offering luxurious designer bridal gowns, innovative bridesmaids dresses, classic special occasion dresses for mothers of the wedding, and adorable dresses for flower girls and junior bridesmaids around the world. Selling primarily at trunk shows and in third-party […]

Read more