Tag Archives: search retargeting

Somebody’s Watching Me

Google, with their recent privacy policy change had people speculating that the giant was becoming more evil.

In order to provide more personalized (highly tailored) online experiences, Google tracks what maps you look at, what videos you watch on YouTube, the emails you send and receive in Gmail and the searches you perform. They cross-reference that information and use it to serve up ads that they feel are best suited to you and your interests.

Sure, all this data this is good for the advertisers, but I have a problem with the whole concept of personalized online experiences in the same way I take issue with retargeted advertising. But that’s another post.

The following print ads by Goodby, Silverstein & Partners out of San Francisco made me take notice. They look like they were hand-drawn, which portrays Google less as a giant who tracks your every move, and more like your buddy. The tagline casually points out that “Maybe the best ads are just answers”. It asks you to change the way you perceive Google ads. They’re not ads anymore. They’re answers. Helpful answers from your buddy, Google.

I think an alternate line could have been “We know you better than you know yourself”.


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Pop a Cap on that Ad: Retargeting 2012

If you spend as much time online as I do, you’ve probably experienced “retargeted advertising”.

There are two types of retargeting advertising: site retargeting and search retargeting. Both are great concepts, but you need to be cautious as they can easily infuriate prospective and existing customers if done wrong.

Site retargeting is meant to increase brand awareness, retain website visitors and drive users through your conversion channel. It’s conversion-based and it works when someone comes to your website. A string of code drops a cookie on the visitor’s computer. When the guest navigates away from your site to other popular sites, your banner ads will pop up as they surf, driving them back to your site to encourage a purchase.

Search retargeting is all about finding new customers. It is acquisition-based and will target folks who have not yet visited your site but who perform a related Google, Yahoo or Bing search for a product or service similar to yours. Search retargeting will “extend the interaction with the same searchers when they move away from the search query results page to other online activities.” In other words, when a customer does a Google search for something like “mattresses”, then goes to check the latest celeb gossip, there’s a good chance an ad for Sleep Country or something similar will be waiting for them. (Don’t confuse this with search advertising, which is a method of placing ads in the results of search engine queries.)

How can it go wrong?

FREQUENCY CAPPING: Put a cap on the number of impressions you serve to any one prospect in a given time. This should be a mandatory part of a retargeting campaign. Without a cap, you’re basically just stalking your customers and could be hurting your ROI. The number of impressions that are right for a company will vary, some say 2-3 times a week, others say 3-9 a day. It depends on your product, brand, objectives and your other marketing efforts.

EXPIRY DATES: People will usually make up their mind about making a purchase within a certain amount of time. Don’t waste your hard-earned advertising dollars on running retargeting campaigns for last season’s shoes. Keep your advertising fresh and current.

EXCLUSION OF PAST PURCHASERS: Many online complaints point to advertisers who are stalking people with ads for products of which they have already purchased. How do you fix this? There was some talk about creating exclusion pixels which would detag people who have already purchased. On the other hand, if you detag past purchasers, you are no longer nurturing your already-engaged audience. You could be retargeting past purchasers with complimentary products. If you are basing your retargeting campaign on CPA, these are the low-hanging fruit. Again, you need to decide what’s best for your product and brand

YOUR WEBSITE: Make sure your site is worth a retargeting campaign. The goals are conversion or acquisition. If you can neither convert or acquire through your current website, there is no reason why you should be spending money trying to drive people back to your site.


So to recap, here is a list of things that you should keep in mind when building a retargeting campaign:

  1. Don’t retarget customers who have already purchased. But if you must, be sure not to serve ads for products that they already bought.
  2. Serve unique relevant, targeted ads based on your visitor’s surfing habits or searches.
  3. Build in some time between when you retarget and when someone has been to your website (In other words, don’t be an obvious stalker). And scatter your impressions.
  4. Be selective on which pages of your site will retarget. Don’t retarget pages like “press releases” or “about us” or “careers”.
  5. If you’re a hosted app like “Go To Meeting”, don’t cookie people your customers invited to your domain.
  6. High volume advertiser? Pop frequency a cap on your ads and add an expiry date.
  7. Search retargeting keywords should be clear and concise and optimized. For example, “ladies shoes” versus “girls shoes” will provide totally different results

Fun fact: when you do a Google search for “Retargeting + stalking”, you get 280,000 results.


Filed under Just General Ad Stuff