Smart Cookies: Making the Case for Remarketing

PUBLISHED: December 17, 2017

Remember ten minutes ago? When you clicked on that article about neckties? You may not be in the market for neckties. You may not even like them. Nonetheless, something made you click that article, and now here we are… in a world of necktie advertisements. In the ad banner above your inbox: neckties. Facebook newsfeed: neckties. Even on your anti-necktie petition page: yup, neckties.

Welcome to Remarketing: the tool that online advertisers use to follow-up with previous customers… or make a second attempt at a sale with visitors who failed to purchase. On average, 97% of first-time website visitors don’t convert to a sale. Over time, advertisers have learned that marketing that targets the unconverted 97%, as opposed to marketing to the masses, is money better spent.

First developed in 1999, remarketing (or retargeting, or behavioral targeting) gave users the impression that the internet was “following them,” that Big Brother was tracking their online habits and search histories. And indeed he was.

Today behavioral targeting is as common as Craigslist ads. Whether it’s banners, trigger emails, or mobile push notifications, consumers have become desensitized after years of monitoring by online retailers, and thanks to ad regulations, personal data is never involved in the transaction. Also, technological advancements since 1999 have made “smart remarketing” possible, providing an improved ad experience for both the consumer and the website purchasing the ad.

So how we do get “smart” when it comes to remarketing?

  1. Make sure it’s enticing. To close the deal and guarantee a high ROI, make sure that your remarketing ad provides some incentive in the form of a discount, promotion or special offer. In a world of competing retail websites, you’ve got to give them a compelling reason to go back to yours.
  2. Experiment with placement. The brilliant marketing minds at Chubbies (popular online shorts retailer) played with ad placement as part of a successful remarketing campaign. After testing four ad placement options on various social media platforms, they analyzed the data and trimmed the fat, removing the ads that weren’t performing as well.
  3. Be dynamic. “Dynamic Remarketing” is a step up from traditional behavioral targeting. If a consumer abandons their online shopping cart filled with superhero underwear, then those same superhero underpants may appear in a sponsored tweet. Or perhaps a complementary superhero lunchbox will show up in a sponsored LinkedIn post. This type of refined, strategic remarketing also takes advantage of information published about the consumer, such as age, race, gender, and location.
  4. Review, revise, repeat. It’s all about the numbers. So track the statistics, double up on the campaigns that work, and ditch the campaigns that don’t.

Is remarketing an exact science? Far from it. A dad purchasing a one-time unicorn bicycle helmet for his 4-year-old daughter is not the ideal target for your unicorn-themed apparel ads, but it does happen. All we can do is learn from the imperfections and stay up to speed as the technology continues to evolve. Until then, check out these neckties.


Published online at Community Newspapers.

About Brand Poets

Founded by Tana M. Llinas, Brand Poets is a collective of strategists, storytellers, and digital artisans crafting smart, poignant campaigns that command attention.


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