Is Retargeting Ready to go Mainstream? (Part 2)

In part one, we talked about factors that should drive the adoption of retargeting (also referred to by Google as "remarketing"). Now we'll examine the limitations of Google's offering, other tools, and some thoughts on how marketers can embrace retargeting.

Digital Getting Wiser

The growing maturity of the digital industry, and the level of knowledge within agencies and marketing departments, is an important factor here, too.

Most marketing departments have an awareness, if not in-depth knowledge, of search and display. Increasingly, campaigns are analyzed across channels as tools like MediaPlex, tag carriers, and a number of independents provide the ability to analyze the consumers full journey path during a cookie period -- from first impression, to first search, to last search, and the traditional last click.

Once marketers know consumers visiting Site A are likely to search and buy their products and have planned their display and search campaigns to leverage this trend, the next obvious step is to look at where drop-offs are occurring -- which consumers are searching, but then not buying -- and what sites can they be reached on with retargeting?

Third-Party Tools

Google's offering enables this sort of tactic, but only for sites with AdSense ad units on them. Using a third-party tool like MediaPlex or DoubleClick Boomerang as well, brands can run this sort of activity web-wide. Not just retargeting to "lost" prospects who didn't convert, but targeting existing customers with cross sells.

Once you've dropped a cookie that tells you things about the visitor/customer, your only constraints are your budget and ideas. No doubt, other tools providers are scrambling to introduce this functionality if they don't already have it.

Display's New Best Friend?

Google's announcement also included one other piece of important information: it's not just for search. Once you've added a piece of code to pages on your website, you can retarget consumers who visit the site through any source:

  • Sending a customer CRM e-mail out? Retarget customers who click but don't buy with a display ad.

  • Have a members-only area? Retarget recent log-ins with a new product.

  • Receiving a lot of direct traffic as a result of a new TV campaign? Don't let your competitors suck up sales from the interest you've generated -- run a display campaign featuring the TV ad tailored to people who have visited the site but dropped out mid-shopping cart, with your order line phone number in the advertisement.

All of these options could make retargeting display advertising's new best friend, a shot in the arm that could cause brands to fundamentally re-examine the interaction of search and display, and to remember a basic fact when planning: consumers don't operate in silos, and neither should we as marketers.

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About the author

Duncan Parry, COO of STEAK, began his career in search in 1999 at Lycos, during the early days of the industry.  

In 2002 he joined PPC engine Espotting and rose to the position of Agency Editorial Manager, working on campaigns for some of Europe's leading brands. He left Espotting in 2004 to work as a consultant in both paid and natural search, during which time his clients included publisher VNU's portfolio of UK IT, finance and recruitment websites.  

In 2005 he reunited with ex-Espotting colleagues to found STEAK. His roles at the agency have spanned PPC, SEO and Insight, as well commenting and writing in trade press for the agency, and contributing to STEAK’s social presence.