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Remarketing, also referred to as Retargeting isn’t a recent innovation but has evolved substantially in recent years. Today I’ll discuss what it is, why you should do it and how you can implement it.


Remarketing, simply put, is any form of display advertising that is targeted to previous visitors of your website or other web properties. The premise is that since 98% of all website visitors do not convert there is a huge untapped market potential for future advertising.

A Remarketing/Retargeting campaign displays ads to your previous visitors on other sites as they surf the net.  Ads will run on a variety of ad networks as described in the “how” section below; your visitors are tagged with a pixel or cookie and then only those people are shown your ads. Modern Remarketing networks provide a range of options for advertisers. You can choose from CPM and CPC pricing models, real-time bidding auctions and a variety of ad formats.  Most importantly you can segment your retargeting list based upon a variety of parameters such as pages or products visited, level/type of engagement, original traffic source and more.

In order to have a successful Remarketing campaign, you must first have visitors to remarket to. In this regard remarketing works best in conjunction with other forms of advertising such as search engine marketing, traditional display or with social media and organic campaigns.


While display campaigns are great for brand development they often don’t generate a positive ROI. Thus display can be unattractive for small business. In contrast, Remarketing campaigns tend to generate a very high ROI, often outstripping top performing paid search. In addition, Remarketing has a low-cost entry point and is relatively quick & easy to set up making it highly attractive for small companies.


The first step in setting up your Remarketing campaign is to figure out who you should be Retargeting to. For many businesses with one product or service that answer is simply “website visitors,” which is perfectly fine. If you have several product lines, distinctive markets or complex marketing strategies you’re going to want to break up your lists into segments. If you use Google Analytics (currently only works with Adwords) to generate your lists we recommend creating one master list (catch-all) and then as many lists as you need to group your targets.

One way to segment is based upon which products, services, check-out or contact us pages were visited. Later you can advertise the specific products & services people showed interest in or focus on those that nearly converted. Another way to segment is to choose a specific traffic source type or specific campaign. Let’s say you ran a display campaign to advertise an upcoming tradeshow. Everybody that clicked through that campaign can be targeted with a reminder of the upcoming event.

Once you’ve established how you want to segment your lists it is time to choose which network(s) you will run your Remarketing campaigns on. The major players in Remarketing are Google, Adroll and Facebook. Each network has advantages and disadvantages; here’s a high-level breakdown.


Google’s Retargeting campaigns run on the Google AdWords platform so if you are already running paid search, this is probably your best bet. With AdWords, you have the option of using a built-in script to create your list(s) or you can import your lists from Google Analytics (recommended). AdWords has slick built-in tools to generate image ads though I generally recommend professionally created banners unless you are on a very tight budget.  Like all display campaigns, you can choose either the PPC or CPC pricing model. Lastly, Google plays nicely with Analytics right out of the box, i.e. you won’t have to generate custom campaign tracking codes. On the downside, Google AdWords network is on the low end of quality because it is made up of up mostly smaller publishers.


Adroll is the biggest independent Remarketing ad network.  All they do is Remarketing and they do it very well.  Adroll provides a higher quality network to advertise on and follows IAB creative standards which is a bit of a mixed blessing.  If you are not familiar with the IAB standards you will almost certainly need to work with an agency that understands the requirements. The costs of creative development aside from the setup for Adroll is a snap.  Just insert Adroll’s tracking code on any pages where you want to capture your retargeting list and associate with your ad campaign. Adroll works on a real-time auction CPM pricing model. If you work with an agency Adroll is a great choice either alone or in addition to Remarketing with Adwords.  Adroll also provides Facebook Remarketing so you can kill two birds with one stone.


Facebook Remarketing is only available on the Facebook network but with over 1 billion users that network is huge. FB Remarketing can be set up through the self-serve ad platform and is as easy to launch as other Facebook ad campaigns. Facebook Remarketing can be targeted to website visitors or a mailing list you already have on hand. The Facebook platform is a good option if you already have a large Facebook audience and are a B2C, otherwise stick with Google or Adroll.


Remarketing is a great way to generate more leads and sales for your business. There are a number of ad networks to choose from and the starting cost is relatively low.

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