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Retargeting: Creepy? Try Effective...

Retargeting is the process of tagging someone that visited your website. The tag is then used to display ads directed toward the individual as they travel to other sites across the internet. This is accomplished through the use of a pixel, a piece of code embedded in your site that tells the browser to drop a cookie. Search engines can then use that pixel to identify which ads should display. When the user goes to a different site with a display ad slot available, the browser checks for a retarget pixel and notifies a “retargeter” of available ad space. The retargeter then places a bid for that space. If the bid wins, your ad will display on the site, exclusively for the user. Once a user converts or completes the desired task, the retargeter creates and assigns a “burn pixel”, removing that user from your tracking audience.

Here, we will discuss some of important reasons why retargeting is a powerful tool in your digital marketing strategies:


An old rule states that a person needs to have contact with your brand 7-12 times before they will decide to do business with you. In today's world, with a massive saturation of ads and promotional messaging, we are willing to say, it is probably far higher than that. Prospects become numb to standard ads. We read around or skim past them, unless they interrupt our thoughts or rigger a double-take: retargeted ads do exactly that.

Highly Effective

Frequently used in the consumer sector, retargeting often happens when someone abandons a cart or views a specific item. This is not to say that it can't be used with great efficiency in the B2B or industrial sectors. Statistically speaking, retargeted ads are incredibly effective. 70% of users experiencing retargeted ads, are more likely to convert. Users are also 10x times more likely to click through to your site vs traditional ad words or display ads. Retargeted ads are also up to 500% more effective than ad words or display ads alone. This is because the user is getting multiple ad exposures, fostering a sense of familiarity with the prospect. Also, over 68% of ad agencies and 49% of major brands using them. With statistics like these, we can understand why so many companies like retargeting. They wouldn’t be doing this, if they didn’t work.

Illusion of Scale

Another reason why retargeted ads are so popular, is because they create the illusion that a company has advertising in many places. They place a veil around the user, making them feel like they are seeing your ad everywhere (which they are). This must mean, that you are very successful to be able to afford advertising at that scale. In reality, it’s actually, a select few seeing your ads. This makes your prospects feel like they are seeing a mega brand. It makes far more sense to focus your efforts on a few people, ensuring the ad is seen and absorbed, than to run one ad to thousands (or millions) of people, resulting in another skim or scroll.


Retargeting ads are also an opportunity to have a little fun with your prospect, by injecting some creative storytelling. Logos and brand messages are still important to tie it all together. However, if you tell bits of a story each time the customer sees the ad, you are more likely to show that you are invested and understand them. This helps build a connection. Customers appreciate a tailored message. Make sure your message ties back to the page or information they visited on your site. When completed correctly, this entices the user to return to the site, feeling more confident in your products and services.

Retargeting is a Long Game

It is commonly held it takes time to build momentum in marketing. This is no different with retargeting. The ideal display range for picky prospects, is showing a retargeted ad up to 12 times, spread out over a month. We all want instant gratification, but the reality is, if you are patient, you will build a better relationship with a customer. One of the great things about retargeting, is even though it can be time-intensive to build an ad story line based on the customer’s discovery cycle, once implemented, the process is fairly automated and only requires monitoring and tracking effectiveness, making minor modifications as needed.

A Word of Caution

An article on retargeting would be remiss, if it did not discuss the potential abuse of such a powerful advertising medium. It is important to remember that advertising is a fine line between leveraging data and over exposure, or abusive follow tactics. Retargeting is no different, in this sense. If you are going to use retargeting, make sure is done tastefully. Don’t try to hit users 100 times in a month. Over exposure causes users to view your company as “creepy” or “stalker-ish”. This, of course, is not what you want your brand to be associated with. Stick to a range of 7-12 impressions, per user, per month. If you treat your prospect respectfully, you should avoid this perception.

Overall, the benefits outweigh the negatives with retargeting. Although some may say that it is “creepy”, many companies use retargeting to get more ROI out of their paid search campaigns. This is an important tool when maximizing the mileage in your company’s marketing or advertising budget. With some creativity and strategy, your company could see major improvements in return traffic and conversions. If you are considering retargeting ads for your website, reach out to Nesbit Marketing with questions about how to get started.



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