Is Retargeting/Remarketing Right for You?

March 24, 2011
By Lisa Barone in Internet Marketing Conferences

Wow. Okay. Let’s group from the information overload of the last session that we all needed a PhD to understand.  You still with me? I sure hope so. Don’t leave me here alone.  Okay, next up we’re going to talk about remarketing with the super awesome Dax Hamman, David Szetela, and James Colborn.  Let’s just go.

Up first is Dax.

Why Are We Here? [Funny, I’ve been asking myself that all week…]

From a marketing sense, we all know that we want to talk to the right person, at the right time, with the right message. We’re trying to find the people most likely to respond favorably to the marketing we’re putting in front of them. Previously, a lot of advertising has been about shouting at the crowd. We want to focus on individuals who express an intent.

Classic Retargeting

Scenario 1: A visitor comes on to the site and abandons before they do what you want them to do.

Scenario 2: A visitor comes, is cookie, targeted, and you can bring them back to convert.

Doing It Right

Someone arrives on your home page – their intent is different than someone who starts looking at products. Maybe you’re not relevant, maybe they didn’t have enough time, etc.  You want to target people appropriately depending on where they left your site and why they left it.  You don’t want to retarget everyone.  You can save more by removing bad people.

The Concept of a Cookie Pool

You don’t know who all these people are. They’re an anonymous cookie ID.

Someone arrives on your home page, cookie them, tag them, they’re in the cookie pool.

If someone logs in and goes into your secure customer area, do you really want to be talking to them? Probably not. They’re probably already using your services and you can’t get them twice.

How did that person get to your site? What is the intent of search? If someone arrived on your site look for “jobs”, you’re either Apple or someone is there for a job, not to convert. Remove them from your cookie pool.

But there are OTHER types of retargeting. Search retargeting talks to those individuals who are searching for the terms that matter to your campaign but who have not visited your site.

Which cork, which lead

You probably have terms in your SEM program that you can’t afford to keep in there. Maybe they’re too general or just too competitive. Search retargeting is ideal in giving you a presence when people are searching for those types of terms. Same applies for brand competitor terms.  When you’ve got them to the site, that’s when classic remarketing comes into its own.  Throw everything you’ve got at the challenge once you get toward the bottom of the funnel.

Retargeting In Action

His mom is smart, but not tech savvy. She can browse, do email, buy things, RSS, etc. He was over in the UK visiting and she was shopping online. He watched her put all her items in a cart, logged in and then closed down the browser and said she’ll come back to that later.   He asked why. She said in 2 hours they’ll send her a coupon for 20 percent off! Heh! Be careful you don’t come off as a creepy stalker. If his non-tech savvy mom is on to that, so are lots of other people.

So is retargeting/remarketing right for you? Yes. It’s a very cost-effective technique with great ROI.  Also, Dax’s company is recruiting.

Next up is David.

  • Benefits: People who visit your site see your ads on Google Display Network sites thereafter.
  • Ads (and even landing pages) can be customized for the visitor behavior. They key to success is tailoring your ads to what you know about the people viewing them.

Don’t Fear These New Terms

  • Audience
  • Remarketing Lists


  • Define visitor subset
  • Create the corresponding remarketing list
  • Paste remarketing code on appropriate pages
  • Create an ad group targeting the entire display network

Example 1:

Return to site: Ad says “Come back to Snaptotes – We miss you” Good for people who came through to the site but didn’t convert. Clickthrough rates on ads like these approach those of search ads.   If you want the extra boost, you  match the messaging in your ad to the landing page.

Example 2:

Visited Department: Ad says SnapTotes Backback 4 u – You know you want it”. In this case, someone visited your backpack section. Acknowledges their behavior and encourages them to come back. Again, it’s coupled with a landing page that acknowledges the same thing.

Example 3:

Shopping cart abandoned: Ad says SnapTotes needs You Back – You were so close. Come back and finish. Show ads all over Google’s Display Network to get people to come back.  Be careful with your ad writing there. You can get a little creeptastic.

How do you do this?

  1. Turn on your Audience tab in the Adwords Interface
  2. Click on Ad Audiences Button
  3. Choose an empty Ad Group
  4. Create a list – a set of behaviors that people have exhibited when they come to your site.
  5. You’ll end up with different lists, all corresponding to different sections of your site.
  6. Create a custom combination – People who did X  and Y
  7. Paste the code on the appropriate page of your site

Top Tips

  • No keyword or placements – you want ads to appear on all Google Display Network sites
  • No need to weed out “poorly performing sites”
  • Target the top spot in Gmail
  • Target mobile with click to call ads
  • Use frequency capping – don’t show the ad to the same person 30 times. Not going to be effective. Under Advanced Settings.


You might want to exclude site categories using the Site Exclusion Tool


It may take 24 hours for a campaign to show impressions

Remarketing is only full functional once a list reaches at least 500 unique users.

Pay closer attention to attribution. Don’t put all your money into remarketing. You’ll dry up the pipeline.

Remarketing with YouTube is totally killer. You can put your ad in the same context as a YouTube video. You can relate the topic of the ad to the video and your site. “Justin Bieber buys my handbags, you should to”.

Next up is James. He runs a team at Microsoft that helps people with retargeting.

Remessaging, retargeting, remarketing – it’s all the same.  They all give an advertiser a second chance.  You can do site, search or publisher remessaging.

  • Site remessaging – could fit in most places in the purchase funnel. Most apply it to make direct response campaigns more successful. It’s the situation where it’s the second chance that I’ve got.
  • Search remessaging: brings the ability to make display a lot more accountable.  He adores it as a marketer. I love that he used the word “adore” to talk about remarketing.
  • Publisher remessaging – gives you the opportunity to make more of your brand investments to drive as much reach as possible. They used words like “making your marketing campaign work harder for you”.

Something is happening in the scaled display environment.  It’s growing rapidly. A lot of the products that are more commodities – it’s lending itself well to that product, morphing into a product where you buy it through partnerships through technology.

Where is remessaging headed?


  • Publisher/Network driven
  • Utilizing owned assets and technology

Scale and Simplicity

  • Evolving scale display ecosystem
  • Driven by DMPs, DSPs, DCO and Exchange

We don’t talk enough about creative. Creative is fundamentally the do or die of most marketing campaigns. We know that if we write a terrible piece of text, then the reality is it doesn’t matter how good the keywords are or how good you are at bidding, you’re not going to get the results you’re after because the creative won’t drive anyone to click. The same thing applies to display. Things like dynamic creative which allow an ad to be changed by remessaging makes that ad more attractive. It’s not spooky, it’s actually fantastically simple. Allows a lot more creatively to be delivered.

My brain is melting.

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