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By Steve Tsai, Managing Editor, Internet Journal

During an "Ask the Expert" session at SES Conference in San Francisco last week, I was at the "retargeting" table and had a conversation with Marty Weintraub of AimClear and Scott Linzer of QuantCast. Later on, I also attended a session where David Monsees of Google talked about how Google has made remarketing easier for advertisers.

Retargeting and remarketing are two terms meaning the same thing. Google uses the term remarketing. There are two types of retargeting: Site retargeting and search retargeting.
I have written an article about B2B retargeting several months back. There, I explained how site retargeting works. In this article, I will revisit site retargeting and also explain what search retargeting is.

As an analogy, site retargeting is like if a prospective customer in a shopping mall went in your apparel store, and either promptly left, or browsed around a particular aisle and then left, or put items in her shopping cart, went to the checkout counter, but left without buying, and you can tag her, follow her around and serve her ads when she visits other places relevant to apparel. Because she has visited your store and you have her visiting history, you can more accurately serve ads that meet her intent.

Search retargeting is like if a prospective customer in a shopping mall went to the directory and look under apparel section. But instead of going into your store, she went to another store and she never visited your store. Search retargeting will allow you to target her, follw her and serve her ads when she visits other places relevant to apparel. Because she never visited your store, she is a new prospect.

Site retargeting or remarketing is to get a second chance on a visitor who left your web site without taking the action that you desired. Therefore, site retargeting is aiming at someone who has already been to your site.
Search retargeting is to get a second chance on a searcher who entered a search term in a search engine where you placed a search ad, but did not click on your search ad. Therefore, site retargeting is aiming at visitors who have never been to your site.

Site retargeting is a powerful mechanism to bring back visitors who have not become your customers. Site retargeting is done by placing the retargeting tracking code on each of your web page. When a new visitor enters your site, a cookie is created on his device and the remarketing vendor tracks the visitor's visit pattern.
While web analytics can tell where a visitor came from and what it did at your site. Retargeting uses that visit history (via cookie) to continue engage the visitor with more specific ad/message after the visitor left and visit other websites.
To illustrate this, let's say three visitors come to your site, each takes a different path of actions:
Visitor 1 comes to home page and bounce right out.
Visitor 2 comes to home page, then a product page, and then exit.
Visitor 3 comes to home page, then a product page, proceeds to shopping cart and then abandons and exits.

This visit history can be used to remarket to each visitor with a different plan of action. The first step is to put the visitors in different categories:
Visitor 1 has shown a general interest or no interest at all. But at least it has some exposure to the web site and the brand. Remarket will place display ads in other websites visitor 1 subsequently visits that are relevant to your site or product.

Visitor 2 has shown specific interest to a particular product, remarketing can show this visitor specific product display ads when she visits other webstie pages that are relevant to that particular product. The conversion is expected to be higher than those remarket ads to visitor 1 because visitor 2 has shown more interest than visitor 1.
Visitor 3 has shown even more interest than visitor 2, because she has put the product on the shopping cart but abandoned it during the checkout process. Retarget ads placed in other websites' pages that are relevant to that product should bring in even higher conversion.

The display ads for each visitor will be different based on their visit history and intent. If the website is sophisticated, it can direct the retargeted visitor to a retarget landing page specific for returned visitors.

Search retargeting/remarketing is aiming at searchers who searched a key phrase on which your search ad was shown but he didn't click on your ad. Search remarketer will continue to track the user. You can target these users through the remarketer and place a display ad in content pages that are relevant to your company or product. For example, you can specify to target those people who searched certain key phrases and then visited certain websites.

Since remarketing ads are display ads, when armed with visitor's visit history or searcher's search term, the display ads can be much more targeted and yield better click through and conversion.

About The Author
Steve Tsai is the Managing Editor of the
Internet Journal Internet Journal provides the insights and analysis on Internet marketing, eCommerce, mobile communications, eSecurity, and global e-Business. If you have any comments about Internet Journal, please send email to


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