Site Retargeting. Should I Be Doing This?

May 13th, 2010

On average 98% of the visitors who browse your site will leave without converting – whether that conversion is an action as simple as joining an e-mail list or as complicated as buying a product.

How Does Retargeting Work?

Retargeting works by anonymously observing consumers’ behaviors while they are visiting your website. Targeted messages are delivered to those consumers after they leave– based on whether or not they completed a desired action. While behavioral marketing in general uses online actions to identify, reach and convert good prospects, retargeting focuses on consumers who have actually been to your site.

Here’s an example of how it works. Let’s say you’re the new Cowboys Stadium with tickets that you want to sell. You can put a piece of code on the tickets page of your website, which will let you later show relevant ticket ads (such as last minute discounts) to everyone who has visited that page, as they subsequently browse sites in the Google content network (or whichever network you are running on).

You can also run a number of retargeting campaigns at the same time. For example, you could offer discount game tickets to users who’ve previously visited your tickets page, advertise VIP hospitality packages to users who clicked on your “Hospitality Suites” page, and advertise a sale on team merchandise to users who previously visited your online store.

It doesn’t matter where the traffic is coming from to your site (print ads, TV, radio, online) as long as the traffic volume is there.  Retargeting is a great way for businesses to reach users who are likely to be highly receptive to their ads and special offers. It helps advertisers and websites get higher returns.

Retargeting can effectively optimize value across all your marketing efforts. The TV spot or online ad running for your business leading consumers to your website was not cheap, and retargeting helps ensure those dollars turn into revenue.

You can also use Search Retargeting for display advertising.  Yahoo!’s Search Retargeting, for example, is a customized display targeting solution that lets advertisers capture user interest from search terms and retarget the user with display ads throughout the Yahoo! Network. For example, if a user searches for the keyword “sandals,” indicating strong purchase intent, an advertiser can target that user with a tailored display ad for footwear.

Remember to retarget your past website visitors even if they have already made a purchase with you.  Don’t be shy to keep in contact with them.  The trust is already there, they are familiar with your brand and service, and more than likely they have an interest in another one of your products…….Up-Sell and Cross-Sell!

Purchasing of retargeting ads is made on a cost-per-click (CPC) or dynamic cost-per-thousand (CPM) basis and requires that a website have at least 500 visitors per month to be eligible for retargeting.  You can also specify how long a person remains on your retargeting list.  You may only want someone to be on the list for a period of 10-days to ensure they are not overexposed to your message.  Frequency capping can be implemented, such as only serving an advertiser’s retargeted ad to the same user once within a 24-hour period.

 Possible downsides of retargeting 

  • Not everyone visits the websites that are on the Yahoo & Google content network.
    • Even though the Google content network reaches over 80% of internet users there is a chance that consumer X may travel to a site not in the network after he visits your site.
      • The Google content network reaches 80% of global internet users — making it the world’s #1 ad network.  
  • The CTR will more than likely be lower than what we usually see on display & PPC campaigns
    • This is due to a higher number of overall impressions being served while clicks may be lower
    • Very similar to the Facebook model.  Facebook advertising is great because you have the ability to run thousands of impressions for very little money.  The downside is that your overall CTR will more than likely be very low. 

 Upside of retargeting 

  • Advertisers have the opportunity, for very little money, to retarget consumers who we know have visited the website for one reason or another.
    • These are your most valuable prospects – they have already shown interest in your offerings just by visiting the site
  • This allows your company to continue to grow their customer relationships
    • Continue the conversation. Deliver product ads. Build your brand. Give your customers what they are looking for – and forge a relationship with your online visitors.
  • You can retarget anything that you want.  You can create one script code and put it on multiple pages (or top 3 trafficked pages) to build your retargeting bucket.   This allows your retargeting audience size to grow.  


  1. Samir says:

    Hey Karissa,

    Awesome breakdown of what ReTargeting actually is – I’m actually in the midst of writing up something similar for our ReTargeter blog.

    I think it’s important to note that each ReTargeting company is differet – speaking on ReTargeter’s behalf – we do reach more than just Google’s Doubleclick and Yahoo!’s Right Media (Fox, AdMeld, Glam Media, and others give us reach to effectively 95% ad inventory). I can’t really speak on behalf of other companies that specialize in this technology.

    Also, something cool for brands that are looking to build their social ecosystem – we have a product called Like ReTargeting in which we ReTarget a Facebook Like ad unit.

    Again, great job on explaining what ReTargeting is. Also, we appreciate the graphic you used :)

  2. Karissa Armstrong says:

    thanks Samir. I appreciate the additional resources on retargeting. Very cool stuff!