Retargeting:  Is That Ad Following Me?

It happens to everyone. You are searching online, browsing through websites for a particular product. You decide not to purchase now and leave the site.

Then you check out a different website, like YouTube, and notice the website you just visited is advertising on the front page. You visit your Facebook page and you see their ad on a sidebar. There is no doubt that this can be a little creepy, but the truth is that this method of advertising is quickly taking over digital space all over the web. It’s called retargeting.


What is retargeting?

Retargeting is the practice of serving advertisements to prior engagements on different types of media. While there are a number of different mediums where this can be achieved, the most popular form of this is site-based retargeting.

Site-based retargeting focuses on advertising to individuals who have visited a website, but never completed the action the company wanted them to take. The company running a retargeting campaign will keep in front of these lost visitors in hopes that they will return and complete the desired action.


How does retargeting work?

Retargeting is a cookie-based system that anonymously ‘follows’ users who have visited a website.

Here is how it works: A small, unnoticeable pixel is place on a company’s website. This pixel does not interfere with the performance of the computer or the website. Every time a new visitor visits this website, an anonymous code drops a browser cookie.

This completely harmless cookie will than let the retargeting company know were to serve the ads online.


After shopping on Zappos, retargeting ad campaigns follow you through to Facebook, YouTube, and other display networks


Is retargeting effective?

Retargeting has become a highly effective tool for online businesses, when it comes to branding or conversions. The average person doesn’t buy something on their first website visit, in fact they often visit a dozen times before they purchase.

The results are quite astounding:

  • Website visitors who are retargeted with display ads are 70% more likely to convert on your web site. (Source)
  • While current display ads generally get a 0.07% CTR (Click-Through-Rate), retargeted ads receive .7% CTR. (Source)
  • Retargeting advertisements have been known to boost response up to 400% (Source)
  • In a comScore study, retargeting proved to be the most effective method of driving prospects back to a website. Retargeting prospects resulted in a 726% lift in site visitation within four weeks of initial ad exposure. (Source)
  • Retargeting also has a huge impact in the increase of branded search: The same study found that retargeting resulted in a 1046% lift in branded search in a four-week period following initial exposure—again, the most effective results of any type of ad placement. (Source)

We want to know: Do you think retargeting is a useful marketing tactic, or is it just plain creepy? Is this something your business could use?