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What is Retargeting?

Have you ever been shopping for something online and later you notice ads following you wherever you go? If you’ve ever shopped on Amazon or Zappos and had the same pair of Crocs follow you onto ESPN or some non-shoe related site, you’ve experienced a type of targeted display, called site retargeting.

Perhaps you’ve been shopping for a new Toyota and started noticing ads for the local Subaru dealership showing up. This competitive targeting was not a coincidence. Our ability as marketers to target customers has become, well, better targeted and more effective generating sales for clients.Dominant Dog Targeted Display Advertising

Notice the site where the ads appear doesn’t matter anymore, you can follow the user wherever they go. This is a huge shift in how display ads are bought and delivered.

For years many businesses thought they had to decide which site to advertise on based on site traffic and demographics. This old way of buying digital led to tons of wasted impressions reaching a broad audience that may have few or no buyers in it.

For example, if I’m in the market for a new Toyota, am I no longer in the market for this car when I’m on ESPN checking the latest sports news? Or when I’m on some recipe blog? Of course not – I’m still in the market for that Highlander!

By following this person across the Internet regardless of the family-friendly site they visit, you can keep your company top of mind throughout their buying process.

Before we (I) get too excited about the amazing targeting tactics you can use to drive quality customers to your website or storefront, let’s take a moment to review our targeted display strategy. Then we’ll get down to the details and discuss some real life examples of the technology at work.

  1. An actual person, let’s call him Alex, located within your service area, has shown interest in products/services that you happen to sell.
  2. He starts seeing your ad on any number of family-friendly websites. Alex continues to see that ad, building familiarity and trust with your brand.
  3. When Alex is ready to buy, he goes to Google and searches for your business by name, or if you have a physical storefront, he drives his vehicle up to your store and makes a purchase.

That’s targeted display advertising in a nutshell. Get customers who already plan to buy your products/services from somebody to YOUR website or store and make a transaction. It’s not entirely different from other forms of creative advertising like TV/Radio/Print if you think about it, but it’s MUCH more targeted, cost-effective, and efficient.

Targeted Display Advertising Tactics


Site Retargeting

This is the most common form of retargeting we see everyday as consumers, when you visit a company’s site and leave. Before you know it, you start seeing that company’s ads on whatever site you visit for days or weeks later.

On average 97% of your site visitors will leave your site without taking an action. When you think about the time and effort put into making your website great, plus the money you may be spending on search engine marketing to get clicks to your site, it’s no wonder businesses don’t want to give up on these visitors.

display advertising

Studies show 8% of those visitors will return on their own, but when site retargeting is used, you can expect 3x the return rate on those visitors. If your site has a decent amount of traffic, we’re talking some serious revenue here!


Search Retargeting

Google may have more search traffic than any single site, but it’s far from the only site with search capabilities. Next time you’re on a website, look for a search box or magnifying glass at the top of the page. Lots of sites like WebMD and Home Depot have a search box where you can search for content within the site and drill down on what you’re looking for.

There are enough of these vertical sites (Travel: Orbitz, Medical: WebMD, etc.) to create a long tail scenario where the sum of many can rival the searches from a single site like Google.

These searches signal web crawlers that allow us to target these individuals with ads. I’ve posted a video on the site to see how search retargeting can be used to win customers from competitors.


Contextual Retargeting

If you thought you were the only one reading what’s on your screen, then I’m so sorry to break this news for you. Virtually every click and action we take online is tracked somehow. Your identity should be hidden, but we’re always leaving breadcrumbs that allow savvy advertisers to target us with ads.

Contextual retargeting will identify users who are reading content online that contains keywords that are part of your advertising campaign. For example, if a homeowner in Denver is researching HGTV’s article on Granite vs. Quartz, and you sell beautiful granite slabs in Denver, you can now reach this potential customer based on what they read online.



Targeting by city and zip code has been around for years. Even geo-fencing has been around for a bit, but with the proliferation of location-based apps on our phones and tablets, we can now target customers on their mobile devices with great precision.

Here’s how it works. Many apps rely on you granting permission to track your location so they can operate properly. iPhone’s Weather app is just one example. Wherever you travel, it’s sending and receiving signals on your latitude and longitude so it can update your weather report. We can now literally draw a fence around the area you want to target, and anybody with a mobile phone that enters this customized shape on a map will be targeted with your ads.

If this concept is new to you, let it sink in for a moment. In our granite store example earlier, that business could create a targeting zone around the local Home Depot and go after the home improvement crowd. They could also draw a map around their biggest competitor who does a ton of TV advertising, and serve ads to anyone who’s shopped there and follow them for up to 30 days after their visit.

Does your organization do event marketing? You can geo-fence multiple events all over the country. Let’s say you sell sporting goods and apparel, and you have a new product you know Broncos fans MUST have, we can draw a fence around Sports Authority Field at Mile High during game days and serve ads to a stadium filled with potential new customers.

But it gets better. You can geo-fence your own store as a conversion zone and track store visits that resulted from your targeted display campaign!


Programmatic Video

A recent study found that a full one-third of Internet users’ time spent online is watching videos. While it’s great to have a video on your website, or upload one to YouTube, it’s just not enough to wait for people to come to you in order to view it.

Through programmatic video, we can show your video commercial pre-roll (before free video content) on publishers like CNN.com, Forbes, ABC Family, MLB.com, Local News Sites, and others. In addition to pre-roll, you also have options for mid-roll, post-roll, non-skippable, and others. And with any of these video placements, we can layer other targeting tactics on top of your video for a truly customized advertising campaign.


Why Buy Targeted Display Through Us?

When you buy targeted display with us, we’ll have our team of talented designers who are skilled at designing ads for this specific program go to work. We’ll even design multiple versions of your ad and see which ones work better than others, then auto-magically shift your ad impressions to the better performing ads, rinse and repeat.

We work with most budgets, large and small, so contact us today for a free consultation of your business needs.


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