Do advertisers need digital marketers to set Retargeting, while they can do it with a few clicks by themselves?

Retargeting or remarketing is a way of advertising everybody is using these days whether the company is managing its advertising account by itself or a media buyer or agency is helping them. Also, all popular advertising platforms like AdWords, Yahoo/Bing, Facebook, Adroll and others allow users to utilize their ads with Retargeting very easily. For example, AdWords worked on its Retargeting feature to make it very simple to use for everybody even without a knowledge of media buying and web analytics. So, some companies wonder why they should pay a media buyer to set their account when they can do it by themselves with a few clicks! (God bless them!)

As a result, we are seeing retargeted ads more and more these days. Every time you visit a website that sells a product or service, you are condemned to see ads of that product or service everywhere on the net for weeks afterward. But, is it effective!? How does this kind of Retargeting affect your brand? How do the audience feel about it?

Marketing is all about how people like you; don’t ruin it with bad Retargeting

Based on many lines of research, audiences don’t like to get tracked by advertisers. Here are a few of these findings and you can find a lot more on the net:

  • 80% of those who use social networking sites say they are concerned about third parties like advertisers or businesses accessing the data they share on these sites. source
  • 68% said they were “not OK” with targeted ads since, as the response continued, “I don’t like having my online behavior tracked and analyzed”. source

As you can see, this type of Retargeting that most of the companies are using is so annoying. Researches show Retargeting is irritating for about 70% of your audience. On the other hand, you can find many reports that show Retargeting increased the conversion rate, and I can say it’s true according to my personal experience. I have seen the same pattern in many clients’ reports even if they are using very basic Retargeting ads. This basic Retargeting shows you the specific product that you have visited on the website over and over for weeks. In fact, advertisers are only using Retargeting to remind the audience to buy the product by repeating the deal, product’s features or whatever.

But hang on a second. What is happening? Inducing a bad feeling to 70% of your customers or prospects to remind them and get more conversion for a few months? Isn’t there any better way? In my opinion, painting a good picture of what we are marketing, whether it’s a person, product, service or brand, is the major issue. We should avoid anything that could affect that picture negatively. Maybe we can earn more money next month with implementing bad Retargeting now, but if we look at the big picture, we are ruining everything.

How to use Retargeting and tracking tools in advertising

Forget about simple Retargeting or using your audience behavior information stupidly, that could destroy the potentials of online advertising. Rethink the whole process and try to act cleverly. There are three steps in online advertising (this should be an iterative process with testing and optimization at the end):

  1. Data gathering
  2. Segmentation and planning
  3. Exhibition

The worst Retargeting happens when you only use the data to figure out if the audience has visited a webpage or made an interaction with a product or not. Then, for the second step, you decide to show the person the product he/she has engaged with before! And for the third part, the ad is shown whenever and wherever possible! Bad news is that most of the Retagreting campaigns on the net are like this.

But the best Retargeting happens if we dig deep in every step. In the first step, try to gather as much information as you can. I want to say linking your advertising service to an analytic tools is a must-do. Don’t be satisfied with the (limited) data provided by the advertising platform, like AdWords.

Now, in the second step, it’s time to think and design smart plans. You can segment your audience based on a bunch of pages they have seen or a series of actions they have done on your website. With some tools like Google Analytics you can create complex audience lists who have done some specific things and have not done some other things on your website. Try to guess their personality and put them on detailed segments. Research each dimension and demographic. For example, we know younger people deal with Retargeting easier,source so put them in a different segment.

In the third step, focus on what, where, how and when you want to show your audience. It’s a good idea to create different contents and ads for each segment. Do not show one ad to everybody. Furthermore, you should choose where you want each segment to see the ads and in what format. There are lots of ad formats and hundreds of ad networks and ad inventories to choose from. Moreover, you can think of the time and frequency. Is work time, midnight or holidays a good time for the segment to see the ad or not? Last but definitely not least, please do not show one ad to a specific person over and over again. Surely, retaining customers is one of the most important things in E-Commerce but don’t over-show your ads. You can simply set in your advertising account to show an ad to a specific person up to X times; it’s called “frequency capping” in Google Analytics.

I know, there are too many decision that have to be made. There could be a hundred ways to segment your audience and many ways to display appropriate ads. It may seem impossible to choose the right one, but don’t forget free powerful analytic tools you have. Maybe the best gift internet gave to marketers is affordable and easy to implement A/B testing.

To be honest, it makes me afraid of telling people that I’m a digital marketer; every time they ask me what do you do and I answer digital marketing, I can feel they say “oh you idiot show me one useless ad from the morning to the night over and over” in their mind. Don’t do that to me guys.

Digital media has many advantages compared to non-digital media but lots of features and multiplicity in tools made them very hard to use. Although showing dynamic ads can be very effective, it depends on how we set it up. Moreover, we know while digital media is improving so fast, people and the audience are improving very quick too and it makes everything more difficult for marketers. It’s a good news for marketers that technology made analyzing and reporting easier and cheaper, advertisement managing simpler and displaying ads effortless. However. It also means that everybody, even your audience, knows a lot. There are too many tools for marketing and too many ways to implement, so marketers have to know more and more to act properly.