Retargeting Steps ExplainedSeptember 20, 2013: Remarketing — originally known as “retargeting,” “behavioral targeting,” and “remessaging,” is a technique for showing ads — usually display units — to browsers more than once, based on their prior behavior on the web. It’s effective for two simple reasons:

1. Message repetition addresses the fact that most people need more than one stimulus to remember a message or perform a conversion.

2. A high percentage of consumers do not complete a transaction in a single browser session. Remarketing lets marketers continue to gently “nudge” people who’ve abandoned their sites and shopping carts (perhaps due to an interruption) back toward a conversion.

How it Works
Marketers who want to retarget audiences must drop a cookie (often called a “pixel”) on the user’s computer at the time that a user visits the marketer’s site. This cookie contains no personally identifiable information, but will allow ad servers running on 3rd party sites to detect this user and serve ads reflecting the fact that he or she has visited the marketer’s site.

Who Does It?
Retargeting is offered by 3rd party ad networks and major online players such as Google.This past June, Google introduced what it calls “dynamic remarketing” that provides a high degree of remarketing precision, down to the product level. For example, e-tailers can use the fact that a user has viewed a given SKU to auto-generate customized ads reflecting this browsing behavior. According to Google, ads served in this way result in conversion rates up to 5 times higher than with non-remarketed ads.

Remarketing Tips
Remarketing can be highly effective, but there are some “rules of the road” that you — or your agency — will want to abide by:

1. Be Transparent. If your ads are following people around the web, some share of the audience you’re following will wonder why this is happening. Make sure that your creative addresses their concerns by including a “why you’re seeing this ad?” message. Because your web site is dropping cookies on users’ machines, you’ll need to have — and abide by — a privacy policy protecting their privacy, and give them a way to easily opt-out.

2. Use Unique Creative. Craft effective creative for people who’ve already been exposed to your messaging. For example, if you know that a given user has spent time in your store’s hardware section, show him another relevant hardware item, not a generic ad or one from another store department. Use the opportunity of a second exposure to deepen — not simply duplicate — engagement with your brand.

3. Create Relevant Remarketing Lists. Setting up a remarketing campaign involves creating lists reflecting classes of user behavior. This is done by using the URL associated with an action to name the list. URLs can be general (yourstoreURL.com/running_shoes) or very specific (yourstoreURL.com/adidas_black_model_404). Remember, the more specific you get, the more work you’ll have to do to create specific messaging for each behavior class.

4. Watch Your Timing. Set your cookie duration to align correctly with your offer’s duration. For long-cycle offers, a long (540-day) duration is fine, but not for an item that will no longer be on the shelf.

5. Avoid The Creep Factor. A fine line exists between helpful following and the perception of stalking. While some users will genuinely enjoy being reminded of your offer, along with the chance to be exposed to more relevant ads, others will not. Set your frequency caps so that you won’t creep people out and drive them into the Ad-Block camp.

Remarketing is a powerful technique with high profit potential for those who do it correctly. If you’re transparent, willing to do the extra work associated with creating remarketing lists and custom creative, time things correctly, and avoid the creep factor, you’ll likely enjoy success with it.

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