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How Does Online Retargeting Work?

I recently bought some shoes online.   Since summer is here, I have been looking for some new summer kicks.  I searched online for some shoes that I was interested in and I shopped around a few sites looking for the best price. I went with a 20% off coupon on one site, selected my shoes and my checkout was seamless.  You’d think as a consumer once you make your purchase online that all you need to do is wait for your product to ship.  Not so. Since my purchase, I’ve seen ads for that online retailer EVERYWHERE – following me as I browse the Internet.  This phenomenon is called online retargeting.

Retargeting is a relatively new marketing strategy.  It works when a consumer visits a website and a pixel that lives on that site “fires,” placing a cookie on the browser of that consumer.  This cookie allows marketers to buy media that will display ads to those consumers as you browse the Internet.  Super advanced technology, created by really smart people and computers, then figure out, based on the cookies you have, what ads are available to retarget to consumers that you have in your retargeting list.  It’s really quite complex process on the back end.

If retargeting is not executed right, these ads can be annoying, frustrating, and even creepy.  If marketers don’t have a well thought out strategy, brand exhaustion can, and likely will, occur.   Marketers should consider the following best practices when starting a retargeting strategy:

  1. Focus on targeting the most interested groups of people.
  2. Target those who have been to your site and haven’t converted.
  3. Limit the time that you serve retargeting ads.
  4. Determine an optimal frequency of how many times as user will see your ad – both daily and weekly.
  5. Align relevant content and create a clear message.
  6. When applicable, use an offer or create benefit for users to come back and re-engage with your brand.
  7. Tell your brands story in a new way; say something new, give them something they haven’t seen.
  8. Test, Test, Test!

These are just a few things that we have learned in retargeting and would recommend considering when creating a healthy retargeting campaign.

When done right, online retargeting can be a valuable source of information for a consumer, if aligned with relevant content – ads served at the right times and in the right place.

And yes, I do really like my new shoes!

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