Live from SMX West: Retargeting & Remarketing — The New Behavioral Ads

By Janet Driscoll Miller | Feb 28, 2012
More Articles by Janet

Ah, last session of the day! I’m pooped! But this last session should be really good. Some think retargeting and remarketing are creepy — but it can be incredibly effective. I’m looking forward to hearing what this panel will share on this topic. The panel today is comprised of Eshwar Belani, VP of products and business development at Rocket Fuel, Darrin Clement, CEO of Maponics, Luke Coltrin, Senior Manager of Online Marketing at, and Brad Geddes, Founder, Certified Knowledge.

Brad Geddes

Brad kicked things off by explaining that only Google AdWords calls retargeting “remarketing”. But it’s all really the same thing.

The most common remarketing tactic he sees is adding the code to every page on your website. WRONG! Just because someone is on your home page for a few seconds doesn’t mean you should treat everyone the same. Segment your visitors.

Step 1: Segment your Website

For instance, if someone was looking at the SMX Stockholm page, you wouldn’t want to serve them ads for SMX West per se.

Step 2: Determine the Average Days to Purchase

You can set the remarketing timeframe. So look at when you should be marketing to them based on when they are likely to purchase.

Step3: Align Segmentation and Days to Purchase with Page Views

Google requires that you have at least 500 page views for a segment during the cookie duration. So check in Google Analytics to see if the segment has at least 500 page views during your preferred duration.

Step 4: Create Your Ad Groups

You may want to have multiple types of groups — positive vs. negative. For instance, one ad group for a category page and one for people who didn’t check out (negative). What ads should the users see? Users who look at women’s shoes shouldn’t see ads for men’s jeans. Rotate offers in the ads and have different ads rotate.

Step 5: Ecommerce Shopping Cart

If you have a shopping cart, think positive v. negative from buyers v. those that just added to the cart.

Step 6: Remarket to Converters

For instance, if someone purchased flowers on Valentine’s Day, then they are likely to purchase flowers for Mother’s Day. Set the ad to show perhaps 30 days after the initial purchase for the next purchase opportunity – Mother’s Day.

Consider Your Time v. Possibilities

There are so many possibilities — think about what will work best for you first instead of trying to do it all.

Be sure to set a frequency cap to help prevent the “creepiness” of remarketing.

Luke Coltrin

Luke was up next. Luke is from — really excited to hear how they are using retargeting.

In the beginning, Overstock went direct. They were able to manage relationships with the ad networks directly and they had to create their own ads. With limited human capital, they then looked at third party options for managing the retargeting and went with a partner. The partner manages the media buy and it is more of a turn-key solution.

Luke then talked about segmentation. He emphasized that the more you know about a user, the more relevant your ads will be and the better performance your ads will have. Segementation is key to that.

How many of your conversions would happen if your targeting click did not occur? Think about your attribution model. Is it first click? Last click? Many of their retargeting clicks are not the last touch point to conversion.

Think beyond site retargeting as well with search retargeting and email retargeting.

Eshwar Belani

Eshwar focused on retargeting and beyond. The problem is that people see early success and then throw a lot of money at retargeting. But you can saturate your audience too quickly — it can have adverse effects on your brand. Eshwar shared data that showed negative lift in certain age groups in one particular retargeting campaign. Don’t pay money on ads to drive people away!! Take a look at your data and see which segments may be experiencing negative lift.

Why move beyond retargeting? It’s like shooting fish in a barrel. It’s just the tip of the iceberg. Success is determined by your attribution model. No one purchases just because of one ad. Retargeting gets a disproportionate amount of attribution credit because it often is the last or near last ad the buyer saw. Some other tactics that Eshwar recommended included:

  • Search intent targeting (companies like Magnetic, datonics, Pretarget and others)
  • Target new prospects with lookalike models (if you see a demographic in the retargeting pool that works well, target them demographically in other ways)
  • Drive offline impact

Darrin Clement

Darrin closed out the panel and began his presentation by focusing on how remarketing will be used for mobile moving forward. Ads in the mobile world are inherently based in location.

Remarketing in mobile will differ than we understand remarketing today. Remarketing in mobile will be:

  • More discovery v. searching
  • Behavior and location will nearly be inseparable — there will be geo-granularity (truly local – neighborhood level)
  • Remarketing will also be social in nature (not always cookie based). Users will do some of your remarketing for you.
  • The time window can be minutes or months. The ads don’t necessarily follow you around the web – instead it follows you around in the real world based on where you were and when (CREEPY!)
  • The tools are not really self-serve yet.

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