The world according to pglewis

Social Media, the World Wide Web, SEO and some random ramblings…

Are the same ads haunting your Internet usage?

Posted on | March 26, 2010 | 7 Comments

I recently watched the film Paranormal Behaviour and since then I’ve been a little bit paranoid that strange things are happening to me…

The thing is, I’m noticing more and more when visiting a wide variety of websites I use, the same advertisers following my online journey.  It’s like they know who I am and just won’t quit stalking me from the depths of Marketing Hell..

Now don’t get me wrong, I don’t think these companies are using  the latest and greatest “Ouija Board Campaign Planning tool” but they are employing a great online display strategy – Online Retargeting..

So what’s all this about Retargeting?

Retargeting campaigns can really make the most of your online media/display spend and essentially help you to reach out to consumers who have left your website (or interacted with your brand) and talk to them in a much more friendly manner than the normal cold hard sell you have to employ on banners.

Here’s a good example of what I mean –

  1. Bob see’s one of your banner ads on the web selling Sunglasses and decides that because he’s going on holiday soon he’ll click the banner and check out what you have to offer.
  2. Bob, being the ever studious man he is, decides to leave your site to compare prices on a pair of Prada sunglasses he likes from your site.
  3. The next day, Bob sees one of your banner ads online again (Lets say on his Yahoo Mail account) with an offer to buy the Prada sunglasses he’s been doing his homework on.
  4. Bobs decision process goes into overdrive with excitement and he clicks the banner ad and buys the sunglasses.

The beauty of this process is that this is exactly how retargeting can work for you but how does this actually work and what else can it do?

At a basic level, retargeting will mean you can re-connect with people who have visited, but not bought anything from your site. Contact can be driven through any channel from Email, Display or perhaps through dynamic personalisation on your site.

Look at Amazon and how they utilise Retargeting on their website.  Try clearing your cookies on your computer (warning here – Maybe best to use a test or second browser for this so you don’t loss all your lovely cookies) and visit the Amazon site without signing in to your account (we’ve all got one)..  Click around a category like Electronics and then leave the site..  On the same browser you used, go back into the Amazon site the next day and I’ll bet you see Electronics and items that you looked at advertised on the Homepage..  Classic Retargeting.

With something so powerful as this why aren’t more companies using it?

According to the study run in August last year, almost half (46.3%) of the online marketers surveyed felt that retargeting was the most underutilised marketing strategy, by a wide margin, with the remaining being:

– Geo-targeting: 18.3%
– Traffic source optimization: 15.9%
– Keyword targeting: 13.4%
– Other: 3.7%
– Category targeting: 2.4%

For something that can really help channels such as Display become ROI positive it’s a wonder why more companies aren’t using it.

The mechanics of Retargeting comes from Cookies and Cookied data..  Imagine that you use the adserver and optimiser Mediaplex to serve all of your marketing ads across all channels (Affiliates, PPC, Display etc).  Depending on your online media spend you could be dropping a whole load of cookies on people that don’t end up being a customer of your site and looking at the Click to Conversions, you’ve probably had an unsuccessful campaign.

On your website you can tag up (Mediaplex tags that are also referred to as being 1×1 pixels) as many pages you want to start gathering cookied data on.  For example, Registration page, Fund Account page and Basket Confirmation page (when they buy something).

With all of this Cookie information it’s then possible to set up rules in your adserver (Mediaplex in this case) to show tailored banners/messages to previously cookied people and hence show them more relevant messaging to aid conversion or repeat business (Whilst the non cookied people will see your currently optimised creative and acquisition message).

The more advanced side of retargeting stems from actually buying media specific to the cookies you are looking to retarget, so instead of buying 10 million impressions across a blind network (cheap media) and setting rules to retarget if a cookie appears that you know, you can actually buy media that is specific to and will only show up for each and every bucket/rule that you have set up for your cookies.

There a multitude of campaigns that you can plan using the likes of retargeting and with any luck I’ve helped put your mind at rest that, like me, you’re not going mad seeing banners follow you around the web and always showing up in the same placement on the same site..

Finally, I can thoroughly recommend watching Paranormal Activity..  Haven’t had a good scare like that in years…


7 Responses to “Are the same ads haunting your Internet usage?”

  1. Neil
    March 26th, 2010 @ 4:25 pm

    With this kind of targeting it does make you wonder why every online brand that is driving conversions isn’t doing it. I love the idea of serving an tailored banner to people who have already interacted – the creative possibilities are huge.

    Nice article Paul 🙂

  2. Paul Lewis
    March 26th, 2010 @ 5:30 pm

    Thanks Neil,

    Could not agree more. When you can start to look at display media as an extension of customer marketing (CRM) then retargeting really does become a very powerful strategy.

    With so many more companies cropping up that can help companies with retargeting campaigns there are now plenty of options to look at.

  3. Yaniv Nizan
    March 27th, 2010 @ 4:47 pm

    Putting aside the privacy issues, this feature can really turn the web into a much better place for users publishers and advertisers. You can read more here –

  4. Tweets that mention Are the same ads haunting your Internet usage? | The world according to pglewis --
    March 27th, 2010 @ 6:16 pm

    […] This post was mentioned on Twitter by Paul Lewis, Paul Lewis. Paul Lewis said: @cianw – Hows your retargeting strategy going then? […]

  5. Mark Spizer
    May 3rd, 2010 @ 8:49 am

    great post as usual!

  6. Jason
    May 4th, 2010 @ 7:35 am

    I can see why retargeting may be perceived as a bit “spooky”, but when done properly, it can yield great benefits for businesses and consumers. It’s all about taking the right approach. You have to find a balance that respects the consumer. How do you do so? Here’s a great article that highlights the do’s and don’t of retargeting.

  7. Jonathan
    August 10th, 2010 @ 12:09 pm

    Hi Paul,
    We met last year while you were at Betfair when we spoke about PPC Search marketing tools. I’ve actually just moved into personalised behavioural retargeting joining Criteo.
    Great article and I’d love to have a brief telephone chat with you to hear your specific thoughts on our technology.

    Many thanks and I look forward to speaking with you again.

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