DS-Foto / Pixabay

It wasn’t too long ago that marketers were learning about retargeting. Now there’s a new sibling in the advertising family named ‘pretargeting’. So what’s the diff?

Pretargeting is an online advertising technique where marketers target individual buyers based on profile, past behavior or both. It’s pre- and not re- because your ads get shown before your targets have ever been to your website. To my mind, pretargeting is a refinement of the age old advertising demographic; it is much more personal, down to named individuals.

How might a marketer use pretargeting? You could place your ad in front of all people who have visited your competitor’s website. A ski manufacturer could place ads in front of those who have checked the ski report in the past month. Or you could display your ad to people with a specific title, or who work for a given company. The idea is to get in front of likely buyers even if they have never heard of you, which is of course the aim of most advertising, but this new technique is, uh, more targeted.

Pretargeting works using cookies. These cookies track all kinds of information about your online life, and combined with information about you and your profile from other sources, creates what is known as audience data. This data can then be used to create very specific audiences who can be shown ads on most major platforms – Google, Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter and others. You can work with one of these vendors, create your own advertising data management platform, or work with a service like Terminus to target specific buyers. With so much data available, the possibilities for creating custom audiences are almost endless.

I personally am very excited about all the possible applications of pretargeting. I also love how the innovation in martech is changing the language we use – marketing neologisms spun up like never before. Seems like only yesterday I was learning what a retargeting burn pixel is. Now I find myself in strategy sessions deciding on my pretargeting vs. retargeting spend. What’s next?