In the world of digital advertising, the options available to marketers can be overwhelming. One absolute must for any digital advertising strategy is to have active retargeting and remarketing campaigns. The terms retargeting and remarketing are often used in lieu of each other but there is also a fundamental difference in the approach for each. In this article we will cover the basics of retargeting and remarketing.

What is Remarketing and Retargeting?

Imagine you walk into a store in the mall. The store knows that you have walked in a customer service agent greets you. Now imagine that in an ideal world for advertisers they could know if you walked out of the store with a purchase or not. They could then could tailor signs in the mall to display an ad for a 15% discount if you left without a purchase or show an ad for new season styles if you walked out with a purchase. This is not far from reality and with Google’s integration of machine learning it has become a reality for advertisers. However before Google started to crunch an astronomical amount of data there was retargeting and remarketing ads.

In the situation above we can think of a website as a store and the display ads you see around the web as the signs in the mall. At the fundamental level what is happening is that when a visitor goes into the store (visits a website) the ad network pixel (like Google AdWords) drops a cookie on the visitor’s computer and can follow them around the web as they visit other websites. This data is used by the ad network to create segments of visitors. These segments can be as broad as the visitor has bought something from the website to as detailed as they like iPhone 8.

Advertisers can use these segments to create targeted ads that will attract the visitor back to the store or website.

What is the difference between Retargeting and Remarketing?

At ICRC Group we come across many clients,small and large, who have never heard of these terms. As part of nearly any digital marketing strategy, ICRC will include both remarketing and retargeting plans. These types of campaigns are some of the highest ROI since the customer has already expressed interest in a page or product. Increased ROI is also helped by the fact that such segments are unique to the website so each action (click, view or conversion) is a fraction of the bid price for unsegmented visitors.

Often ad agencies will use the two terms interchangeably however, there is a fundamental difference in the approach each campaign should take. At ICR we explain the the two types of segments like this.

Retargeting is a campaign to track visitors to a page or product that then never completed an action such as a purchase or reservation.

On the other hand, Remarketing is a campaign to track visitors that completed an action such as a purchase or reservation.

How do campaigns differ between Retargeting and Remarketing?

So now your question is probably what to do with these segments. Well it is pretty straightforward if you think about a physical store and what they would ideally want to do in the conversion funnel.

For example, customers that did not complete an action, the retargeting segment is ideal for a call to action that entices the visitor to return to the website. This might be through displaying an ad group with discounts for the products that the visitor was looking for. It will offer some kind of special for returning visitors. There are plenty of variations that can be run towards the retargeting segment. All ads will have a limited number of times that the visitor will see them so they need to stand out and have a clear value proposition that will bring the customer back. We typically use a limited time discount code or sale price to entice visitors back. It is worth noting that in either segment the visitor is often unaware they are being tracked and served ads for sites they have expressed interest in.

On the other side Remarketing campaigns are used to upsell the customer because they have already completed a purchase or other action. An example of remarketing would be if a customer buys a blue t-shirt that after checkout and for the next 30 days the user will see ads from the same store and for the same t-shirt in other colors. The philosophy is that if the customer already expressed interest in the t-shirt by buying one they might be interested in the same style but in other colors. This is just a simple example but you can imagine how specific the ads could get by leveraging data the ad network now knows about the visitor.

Why ReMarketing and ReTargeting campaigns are a must!

In today’s competitive business environment every advertiser needs as much advantage as they can get. With visitor segments, advertisers can leverage the fact that the visitor has already expressed top of funnel interest in the page or product. Using this information and other visitor attributes such as page visits and bounce rate, advertisers can laser focus ad campaigns towards visitors that have a higher conversion potential.

These focused campaigns will see a higher conversion rate and a much lower CPC, CPM and CPA. These are the critical KPIs that the success of a campaign can be empirically measured in. So when your boss asks what campaigns are performing the best you can answer with impressive results from your retargeting/remarketing campaigns!

It is worth noting that as of writing this article Google is preparing to roll out their flagship browser, Chrome, with an integrated ad blocker. Stay tuned to learn more about what built in ad blockers will mean for digital advertisers.