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We’re still getting a number of questions about retargeted advertising so we’re going to take a couple of minutes to see if we can clarify this “channel”. We’ll start by covering what retargeted ads are, why they might be good for your business, and how to use retargeted ads and not be “creepy” about it.

What Is Retargeting

This still is the most common question that we get. Retargeted advertising is very targeted advertising where people that have visited your website or are a member of your contact list are shown ads for your company. In fact, you’ve probably received ads from a retargeting campaign, in your day-to-day website visits.

How Does This Work

There are two ways that a company can use a retargeting campaign to deliver highly targeted ads to both prospective customers and current customers. The first and most common method is to “flag” a computer, with a piece of javascript code (cookie), as having visited your website. Then as this person visits other websites, sites that are part of a network that delivers retargeted ads, they will very likely see one of your ads that will now be highly relevant to them.

The second method of retargeting is generally used on social media platforms where the platform has a user’s email address in their database. With this method, you will upload a list of contacts, with an email address, and when they visit that platform (i.e. Facebook) they will see your ads.

The beauty to retargeting ads is that you’re showing ads to people that have already demonstrated an interest in your company, your products, or your services.

Depending on how granular you want to get with your campaigns, you can show a generic, brand building ad to anyone that views any page on your site, or you can show an ad that is very specific based on a specific page that they viewed.

As an example, if someone viewed the page on your website that had information on blue widgets that you manufacture, those people would see ads for your blue widgets. If they looked at red widgets, on your site, then they would see ads for your red widgets.


There are a lot of benefits to using retargeting campaigns as part of your marketing mix. Increased conversions being one of them. It’s important to realize that people have a lot going on in their lives, both personally and professionally, and they’re not going to convert on their first visit to your website. A retargeting campaign will keep your brand in front of them and remind them of you.

Some Examples

A couple of examples that would make great sense if you’re running an e-commerce site:

  • You could use retargeting campaigns to offer discounts to people that have looked at a specific product in your store, more than once, encouraging them to make the purchase.
  • You could use retargeting to encourage additional sales of related products to people that have purchased something from your store.
  • You could use retargeting to re-engage people that have abandoned a shopping cart without completing the transaction.

It’s not just commerce sites that benefit from retargeting campaigns. If your website is used to generate leads, as opposed to direct sales, you’ll benefit from a retargeting campaign. Here’s a couple of benefits of retargeting for increasing lead generation:

  • You could use retargeting to build your brand’s visibility or brand value to someone that has visited your website.
  • You could use retargeting to re-engage someone that has visited your site, spent some time researching, and then left.
  • You could use retargeting to give a special offer only to people that downloaded a brochure or white paper from your website.

The Creepy Factor

There is a downside to retargeting that has to be addressed. We’ve heard a number of people claim ads that “follow them” after they leave a website are “creepy”. There have been a number of reports that dispel this, but even if you have one person that feels that way, it’s important to your brand to do whatever you can to not appear “creepy”.

Here’s how you can get all of the benefits of retargeting without being creepy.

  • Don’t show the same ad to people over and over and over. Change it up a bit. Show different products, promote different services, or improve the quantity and quality of the ad creative.
  • Make sure that you are showing highly relevant ads. Don’t show ads for red widgets to people that were looking at blue widgets. The strength of retargeting campaigns is its ability to highly segment and target your audience. Be sure to use its capabilities.
  • Provide value with your ads. Offer a discount or a special offering.
  • Lighten up on the frequency. You can set how frequent your ads will be shown. Don’t bombard people with your ads, be more subtle and your brand value will avoid taking a hit.
  • Don’t show ads for red widgets when people have purchased red widgets unless people are buying red widgets on a regular basis.