Taking the Bait: A Day of Retargeting

Imagine investing your time and money into a product that only works 1-3 percent of the time. Most of us would stop pouring our resources into said product and look for better options.

Unfortunately, most Internet retailers are getting this return from their ecommerce sites - a 1-3 percent conversion rate - which is why they are turning to retargeting in droves. In fact, a recent study by Chango and Digiday revealed that brand marketers strongly believe (3.98 on a scale of 5.0) that retargeting is so standard that it is budgeted for regularly.

Most Website Magazine readers are familiar with the concept of retargeting, but Ted Schuster, director of advertising at Resolution Media, describes it as using display and search campaigns to "target the 97 out of 100 visitors who came to a site but didn't convert." Like in all digital initiatives, however, there are best practices to leverage, players to know and obstacles to avoid.


In order to get some real-world examples of retargeting in action, and see what went right and wrong, I spent a good part of a Friday trying to bait companies to follow me around the Web. Here are the companies who bit, along with some strategies advertisers should throw back.


Nordstrom via TellApart

Online shopping isn't typically how I start my workday (really), but in the name of research, I decided to visit Nordstrom.com. Once there, I added a pair of wedges into my shopping cart. I ultimately left the site, went about my Website Magazine business, and within minutes was presented with the ad in Image A, which includes the shoes I had just shown interest in, but ultimately didn't purchase, as well as a pair of boots I viewed several months ago and didn't purchase. Using TellApart, Nordstrom was able to marry my past viewing behavior and current intent with real-time incentives (the boots in the ad were now 50 percent off) to deliver a highly personalized advertisement.

There is little risk for merchants who are looking to do the same. TellApart does not charge upfront costs and is only paid when shoppers click on retargeted ads and go on to make purchases.

Retailers who are on the fence about retargeting can start simple by focusing on shoppers who have abandoned their shopping carts and then expand their retargeting campaigns, as they feel more comfortable or learn more about the practice. Additionally, merchants who are already familiar with paid search, can leverage the Google Display Network, according to Katie Johnson, associate director at Resolution Media, and do text-based ads, kind of like retargeting training wheels.


Alex and Ani via AdRoll

After my Nordstrom experiment, I received a case study on Kenshoo's Facebook advertising successes with Alex and Ani, an eco-friendly jewelry retailer, which prompted me to visit AlexandAni.com for the very first time. They later retargeted me (Image B). More impressively, when I clicked through the ad, AdRoll sent me to a near-identical landing page (certainly a best practice many merchants are aware of from their experience in display advertising) featuring one of the two products shown in the ad (Image C). Exceedingly more notable, however, is that later, when I logged onto Twitter on my smartphone (all other activity was on my work desktop), Alex and Ani promoted a Tweet to me even though I was on a different device and had never interacted with the brand prior to the aforementioned website visit.

Turns out, in Dec. 2013, AdRoll announced support for retargeting on Twitter and Alex and Ani (along with business-to-business companies New Relic and Salesforce), were "alpha test" participants. These companies saw engagement increase by as much as 170 percent and acquisition costs decrease by up to 74 percent. As early adopters, AdRoll's Twitter retargeting allows Alex and Ani to have broader reach to high-value customers by using customer intent data and re-engaging site visitors on Twitter, desktop and mobile, using a Promoted Account or 140-chararacter Promoted Tweet (Image D). Users don't stay on one device all the time, neither should retargeting efforts.

As for costs, AdRoll's retargeting campaigns have a CPM range of $1-$2.50, which it states is the industry's lowest.


Volkswagen via Google's Display Network

After unsuccessfully trying to get high-end luxury vehicle companies like Bentley and Porsche to retarget to me (basically to try and prove a point that not all browsers are buyers and not everyone should be retargeted), Volkswagen, using Google's Display Network, picked up my auto-buying intent, as well as my location. The ad in Image E is a good example of the proper use of geotargeting (showing a Chicago dealership to someone in a Chicago suburb). Additionally, once I clicked through, the landing page showed the same-exact creative, providing a consistent experience. As I showed more intent (clicking through the original ad), VW increased the frequency of my ads, but not everyone thinks this is always a good thing.

Schuster of Resolution Media, actually says that one of the concerns/ misconceptions that retailers have about retargeting, is that they are going to bother consumers too much. For them, Schuster recommends "frequency capping" to not send out quite so many ads. A retailer can say, for instance, "I only want to show this ad five times a day or five times a week."

While these retargeting examples displayed many best practices, I saw a few notable mistakes in my day of retargeting. For instance, Comcast delivered an ad to me with an incentive to purchase services I already have, making me ineligible for the promotion. Both Johnson and Ben Plomion, VP of Marketing at Chango, recommend using an exclusion pixel to avoid targeting people who have already converted on products, especially those with long purchase cycles, like cable and Internet. Wrong or mismatched creative and incorrect geo-targeting also top the list of retargeting mishaps, according to Plomion who recommends retailers hire the right people, put the right processes in place, and make sure that vendors are accountable and working 100 percent on their behalf.


Image A



Image B



Image C



Image D



Image E



By Amberly Dressler, Managing Editor