Retargeting's Evolution

By Tinuiti Team

This is a guest post by Ben Plomion, Director of Marketing at, a company that offers both search and site retargeting for online retailers.

At the beginning Ben talks about the evolution of retargeting and the various ways retailers can retarget their customers, followed by a couple questions from CPC Strategy.

If search retargeting is new to you, long story short, search engines are tracking those searches and can supply personalized product ads to you when you move from the search engine to a website like Yahoo, other news sites, or wherever you spend your time online. It helps retailers target users that are searching about things similar to products they offer, matching search intent to their product ads across the internet.

For more info check out the Wikipedia pages for search and site retargeting.

To be honest, it’s a little confusing to me as well. If you have any questions about retargeting Ben will be answering them in the comments.

How Retargeting Has Evolved:

Because the results usually outperform other display techniques on the media plan, most retailers are satisfied with basic Site Retargeting campaigns. They shouldn’t be. Even when it’s working, Site Retargeting can’t overcome it’s fundamental drawback: it only reaches people who already know about your site.

Retailers who limit themselves to basic Site Retargeting are ignoring the many different retargeting options at their disposal: SEM/SEO, Email, Consumed Contextually Relevant Content, Engaged with Dispersed Content, Socially Connected Retargeting, and Search.

Of these six additional approaches to retargeting, Search Retargeting can help retailers attract new customers based on the search terms they’ve entered into Google, Yahoo!, Bing, or other search engines.

For example, through Site Retargeting, a user who searches, “Cheap running shoes,” and then browses around the Web might encounter display ads for a running shoes sale from at a sporting goods retailer. Since the user never visited the site of that sporting goods retailer, the advertiser has the opportunity to acquire an entirely new customer.

In other words, Search Retargeting takes advantage of user intent just like traditional search advertising, while allowing retailers to implement it on the scale of a display campaign.

But if Search Retargeting is superior to Site Retargeting in many respects, it doesn’t mean that Site Retargeting is a waste of time or money. On the contrary, Site Retargeting has come a long way in recent years, evolving into Programmatic Site Retargeting (PSR), which combines many different data points to match the right ad to the right user.

For instance, let’s say you’re a general retailer. User 1 is a fan of your company on Facebook and visited the DVD page of your retail site. User 1 then bought The Sopranos box set from you and later searched for, “The Wire Season 3 DVD” on Google. User 2 is a one-time visitor to your Books section who recently searched, “Used Hemingway books.” Basic Site Retargeting would treat these users in the same way. But User 1 is potentially much more valuable than User 2. You’re probably willing to spend more to serve ads to User 1, and you want to target each user with different display creative. PSR allows a retailer to make these critical distinctions between users, making retargeting a much more precise science.

Retailers have the chance to combine their CRM data with other search and PSR data to turn searchers into visitors and visitors into customers.

If you’d like to learn more about Search and Programmatic Site Retargeting, Chango has published several white papers on the subject.

CPC Strategy Questions:

1. What type of retailers is search retargeting best for?

Search Retargeting is relevant to retailers who are actively prospecting for new shoppers. As opposed to Site Retargeting, Search Retargeting is a newest technique that identify customers who have expressed and interest for a given product or service but haven’t yet visited the retailer’s website.

2. How big should retailers get before they look into search retargeting?

Retailers who use Search Retargeting vary in size tremendously. Large retailers have dedicated retargeting budget and substantial media budgets. Smaller retailers have smaller budget but find that Search Retargeting is a cost-effective way to prospects for new customers. In fact, Search Retargeting can save retailers up to 96% per click over SEM, making this a great proposition for smaller retailers who are looking to complement their SEM activities.

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