There are many different ways to re-target Internet users: According to their search activity, their interaction with your ads (ads viewed, clicked or not displayed to them) and their behaviour on your website.

In this post, we will talk about the last one only, i.e. site retargeting.

Site retargeting allows us to show ads to Internet users that have previously visited your website. Ads are displayed across the site network offering the retargeting solution for the time-frame you set, or until Internet users are not in the targeted audience any longer.

Some of the main retargeting solutions are:

  • Criteo, arguably the world leader and 100% specialised in retargeting
  • Large advertising networks such as Microsoft Advertising, Yahoo! advertising, Value Click, Specific Media, etc.
  • Google, specifically Google Remarketing.

Founded in 2005, Criteo was the first to offer a retargeting solution based on a performance-based CPC model. The main advantage compared to other solutions is its ability to manage dynamic ads with a real time CPC bidding system: After visitors have left your site (for example an apparel e-commerce website), they won’t see just a generic ad but instead a personalized ad based on what they’ve seen on your website. The ad content can be customised down to a product category (shoes, pants, handbags, etc.) or to several product pages (like sunglasses, high heels, leather purse, etc).

Below are some examples demonstrating this capability:

Types of banners available with Criteo Retargeting

Note: When choosing a retargeting solution, you have to make sure that its network is relevant to your audience (demographically and geographically). Unfortunately, Criteo isn’t available in New Zealand in the absence of any publishers’ network

But, of course, Google retargeting is available in NZ.

Well, Google doesn’t allow dynamic ads (yet) but its huge network of publishers (Google Adsense) as well as its flexibility will counter-balances this drawback. And no doubt the Googlers are working hard to further improving the ad formats.

So why should you use Retargeting?

Site retargeting is particularly suitable in the following situations:

  • You have a conversion process on your site (purchase, signups)
  • Your products require an engaging conversion process (high information need, comparison, quotes, assessment etc)
  • Your products encourage impulsive conversions (low price products, fashion products/brands, bargains, etc)
  • You have ROI or CPA oriented KPIs
  • You want to increase the number of new clients
  • You want your current clients to be more active (increase in visits, time and pages per visit, increase in repurchase rate, average basket, etc

To get the best out of your retargeting campaigns, you will have to qualify your visitors into several audiences according to you main objective (eg. more purchases or signups). Some common audience segments are:

  • visitors who converted, i.e. your clients
  • visitors who abandoned the conversion process (during the signup / purchasing process)
  • visitors who visited any specific page (a product you want to push, a video demo, etc)
  • visitors who didn’t convert

Whilst it wouldn’t be very useful to retarget people who have already converted on your site (email marketing is best for that), targeting the last three audiences in the bullet point list above will help you improve your conversion rate. In addition, it will also help you understand your visitor’s behaviour better.

How does retargeting improve the conversion rate and ROI/CPA metrics?

By retargeting people who already know you and your products, you have a second opportunity to attract them (often at a lower cost than the first visit cost) and to invite them to convert for a product or service which we know is of interest to them.

Indeed, there is little point in retargeting people with the same ad than the one they have seen before visiting your site the first time. Thus, to be successful, retargeting ads should be personalized according to visitors’ behaviour on your website, e.g. show the same range of products that the visitors saw on your website or better, show the last product they saw or added on their shopping cart before leaving your site.

By doing so, you will not only target people who already demonstrated an interest in your site but also spur them on with what they most likely appreciated in the first place. Consequently, your conversion rate will likely be much greater than any other display channels targeting your prospects.
And since the bidding model and the placements are the same as other campaigns running on the Google Display Network, retargeting campaigns will often end up with a lower CPA and a higher ROI.

How to measure retargeting campaign performance

Some people criticize retargeting campaigns because they don’t see the added value of retargeting people that already cost you some money from other advertising channels (sponsored links, display ads, TV commercials, etc.). This is because they actually analyze each traffic source in a compartmentalized way instead of analysing the overall performance. Thus when assessing the different digital advertising channels, you shouldn’t use the “last click model” to attribute conversions to each supporting channel (i.e. the conversion is 100% attributed to the last ad that has been clicked on). Instead, you should analyse performance through the “halo effect”, i.e. assessing each channel according to their contribution to the final conversion.

The problem is that few websites have the right analytics tools to track their conversion paths. Hopefully the new cross-channel tracking feature for Google Analytics will be soon available for everyone.

So, the best thing to do for now is to assess your retargeting campaign performance through metrics from your returning visitors segment and from the overall traffic as well (the conversion rate being the most important indicator to look at).

How can retargeting campaigns be further improved?

Retargeting campaigns can be optimised at different levels:

  • Ad relevancy:
  • Does your ad content match the scenario you are targeting? – Don’t show lingerie to visitors interested in sneakers…it could work though!
    Is your creative appealing? Be specific, exclusive and use call to action. Don’t use text ads as they will be barely seen, resulting in a very low Click Through Rate and almost no visits from your retargeted audience.
    Is your ad accurate enough? Google doesn’t offer dynamic (product) ads, so perhaps you should choose between promoting your best products or product categories.

  • Ad targeting:
  • Are you retargeted audiences coherent and not too small? Check your tag settings to see if you are rejecting some visitors you shouldn’t be and if tags are implemented on the right pages.
    Is your ad displayed on relevant websites? With Google Adwords, you can combine audience targeting with keyword targeting to not only display your ads to the right audience but also on the right place and thus significantly improve the chance of conversions.

  • Ad frequency:
  • Set up frequency capping to not over-expose your ad to a unique user. You don’t want to upset them!
    In addition, you can customise the number of days that visitors will be retargeted. The default duration is 30 days but it could be much lower according to your specific business needs.

Finally, a couple of months ago, Yahoo! released interesting research about ad relevancy. It shows that:

“people spend 25% more time fixating on ads that are personally relevant to them versus those that are not”

and that:

“time to first fixation increases by 15% when ads are contextually relevant.”

Thus site retargeting combined with contextual retargeting appears to be a very powerful advertising solution to reach these two levels of relevancy and thus generate high conversion rates.
Contextual ad relevancy

At First Rate we can help you retarget the right person at the right time at the right place. So do not hesitate to contact us for a no-obligation quote.