The idea of targeting ads to visitors who leave a site and continue surfing the web always made sense to me. Until recently, however, this "remarketing" was an afterthought. It just wasn’t producing enough traffic or sales to be valuable.
That’s likely to change.
When Google got into the remarketing business, there weren’t enough distribution deals in place to make it a top priority. By "distribution," I refer to popular websites that could potentially serve up a retailer’s ad because they were part of the retargeting network.
Google Changed Remarketing
So many sites have opted into Google’s advertising network that a web surfer could conceivably leave your site today, and if you do remarketing, they could see ads multiple times a day, for months, on the other sites they visit.
The web surfer will think that your brand is everywhere, even if you’re just paying per click, with a very limited budget. That makes retargeting through Google AdWords sound like a no-brainer, and it probably is. Until recently, however, it did not produce significant revenue for mid-sized online retailers.
That was due, in part, to two problems.
Problem 1. Failure of merchants to develop effective retargeting strategies.
We audit hundreds of campaigns each year and repeatedly find that merchants who use retargeting simply run “brand” campaigns. That means a shopper comes to Acme Tire, for example, leaves that site without buying, and then sees ads like the one below all around the Internet.
If Acme Tire cared only about branding, it might be very happy with the result of a campaign like this. Chances are, however, it wants to do more than make its brand memorable. It wants to generate clicks and sales. That requires a different approach.
Many of our clients have achieved success by advertising specific, time-sensitive deals that create a sense of urgency. Instead of the ad above, an alternative might follow the timely-discount concept, below.
Problem 2. Limited opportunity to customize who sees which ads.
While the “timely-discount” approach tends to work better than the “brand” campaign approach, it still isn’t optimal. That’s because remarketing platforms, including Google AdWords, haven’t given marketers the power and control they’ve needed.
Ideally, marketers could schedule remarketing campaigns that were more tailored to the needs of shoppers, based on their behavior on a merchant’s website before leaving. That might lead to ads like the following, targeted to shoppers who browsed to the particular product featured in the ad.
The good news is that merchants can actually run ads like the one above, which promote a particular product that a shopper browsed to. There are many other customized ads that can be run, too. Since these ads target only people who have visited a merchant’s site and who perhaps have exhibited particular behavior while they were there, the ads can be targeted to a potentially lucrative base of potential customers.