Three powerful (and under used) digital marketing techniques PART 1: AD RETARGETING

OK, I’ve got the itch. The biting little sensation to do a series of posts on a specific subject. A while back, I did this on LinkedIn, and readers gave me many thumbs up. And while I love approving thumbs, the real reason I do blog series is because I have a lot of info to share with you… way too much for a single post.

So this, and the next two blogs (a total of three, if my fingers serve me right) will cover some very powerful digital marketing techniques—but ones that a lot of us either A: Haven’t used at all or… B: Only at half throttle.

On with the show!

Retargeting lets you market to a single, interested prospect. It’s like be an archer in a field of easy bulls’ eyes.

Retargeting lets you market to a single, interested prospect. It’s like being an archer in a field of easy bulls’ eyes.


You’ve likely heard the advice that 80% of success in life is showing up. That’s probably why retargeted ads work… they show up at the right times in life. The technique has been around a while… I was first pitched the idea five years ago, but I know it goes back at least 15. Basically, it works like this:

Someone visits your website. She stays a while, looks at specific products or offers, but she doesn’t buy, download or convert in any way. She just leaves. No “good buy” (eek). BUT, she is tagged.

As that potential customer pokes around the Internet—including popular sites like Facebook, Google, Yahoo, Huffington Post and others—she, oh, just happens to see banner ads for the exact product/service she was looking at on your site.

Often, she’ll click through, go to your site again, and convert.

Interesting concept, but come on! Do people actually do this? Yes. According to Adobe CMO, retargeting can boost ad response up to 400%. The site also reports that nearly HALF of search engine marketing pros believe retargeting is the most underutilized online marketing technique. Wow.

Here’s why I think retargeting works. It makes the perfect ice cream sundae of all the classic ingredients we marketers love:

  • Scoops of relevance
  • Swimming in luscious targeting
  • Drizzled with awareness (I was going to say “cherry on top of mind.” I really need a vacation.)
  • Served frequently

And, at least right now, no ill health effects? eMarketer says about three in five online buyers in the U.S. notice these ads and about a third of them have a “positive to very positive” reaction to them. Eleven percent hate them. And about 60% are neutral.

But not all reactions to retargeting are that awesome. AdAge did an eye-opening article called, The Pants that Stalked Me on the Web, where a person was pestered to death about a pair of shorts he looked at on Zappos. In it, he suggested a national “do not track” list, akin to “do not call.” Like the ghosts of media past, retargeting can be abused—and if the feds don’t act, consumers might by shoving it into the “ignore” category with so many other media relics. That’s why some retargeting companies, like Criteo, offer consumers an opt out.

In most digital marketing, bigger brands often lead the way. Think of the Super Bowl Oreo and the invention of “real-time” marketing. Until now, retargeting has been the domain of emarketers, like Zappos. But it is now showing up more and more in the marketing holsters of many household-name brands.

An article in DigiDay gives a good example: Consumer package goods giant Kimberly Clark. The maker of Huggies, Kotex and Kleenex is seeing 50-60% conversion rates among its retargeted consumers. My guess is B2B will start experimenting too, if it isn’t already.

It makes me wonder… where is this headed? We’ve all heard that our experiences on Google, Amazon and Yahoo are unique to us and our surfing habits. With advertising, will customers, in time, only see ads that matter to them?

Looking for companies that do retargeting? There are many. I can’t directly recommend any of these, but in my Internet travels, these names came up a lot. And you can learn a lot about retargeting, beyond my feeble blog, from their sites:

Ad Roll

DoubleClick (subsidiary of “the universe is ours” Google)


– Andy Badalamenti is the creative director for CI-Group

Blog button

1 Comment
  • Re-targeting works indeed- with the kind of erratic behavior an average consumer can exhibit , this can show some positive results indeed.

    10 April, 2014 at 8:05 am

Post a Comment