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Remarketing - the Ads that Follow You Around

Posted by Steve Cameron
Steve Cameron
Steve Cameron is the Director Owner of Advent Communication. With more than 25 years experience he has a deep...
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on Friday, 14 June 2013 in Google

Have you ever wondered how it is that sometimes, when you visit a website, their ads start to follow you around? The page you visited yesterday suddenly has an ad on one of your other favourite sites that you'd never seen before. Or did you just not notice before?

How did they know?

Well, it's called remarketing and a client recently referred to it as just that - the ads that follow you around.

The principle is simple. You visit site A. Google knows (after all, they know most things, right?). Then you visit site B. Site B carries Google ads - these may be text ads or they may be image ads. In most cases Google will serve ads that relate to the site content - so if the site is about pets and pet care, then the ads will generally be related to that area - dog collars, dog boots, etc. But when you visit, Google's serving system stops and says "Hold on a second - that's the guy that was on site A yesterday - don't serve the flea powder ad - serve Site A's ad!"

And there you have it - the ad just followed you from one site to another.

So why do marketers use this technique? Well, in the first place it's effective. In many cases there is no way to know who visits your site. Unless a person fills out a form, completes a purchase, sends you an email or actively interacts with your site in some way you cannot follow up on their visit.

But with remarketing you can do just that. Think of it this way. It's like having a person come into your store and look at your blue widgets. The next day they go to another store and while they are there they see your blue widgets displayed on a shelf. Not someone elses. Your blue widgets. And if they decide to buy them after all, they buy them from you - not the other store. Of course, you pay a small commission to the other store - but it's usually a little less than what you paid for the initial visit to your store - so you're OK with that.

And you can get cute with remarketing. How about running specific ads to people who looked at blue widgets and a different ad to those visitors who looked at red widgets? Or how about running an ad with a "10% Off Our Blue Widgets - Today Only!" - but let's only run the ad to people who looked at blue widgets, but didn't complete a purchase - why make the offer to those who already bought.

You can get started with remarketing in a few moments, but, as with most things, it's best to do some planning first. Think about your site visitors. Who looks at what? What might push a visitor to complete a purchase the second (or third) time around? And test. We have developed sophisticated remarketing campaigns that target small groups of visitors and then take them to specific landing pages on their return visits - pages with headlines such as "Hey - Welcome Back - We Missed You!" or "Thanks for Coming Back - Here's a Promo Code for 10% Off - Valid Today Only".

And now you can extend your remarketing beyond Google. In addition to placing ads on other platforms such as Yahoo and bing sites, specialist companies are now able to place your ads in a previous visitor's Facebook News Feed! Done correctly, remarketing can be extremely effective. Done badly it gets to be a little creepy and more than a little annoying very quickly - so structure your campaigns well. There are ways yo cap the frequency of ad impressions so that a single visitor will not see an ad more than a couple of times a day, and you can use scheduling to ensure that a single person might see, for example, four ads from you in a day, but the four are different ads running around the same theme. It's a thin line between remarketing and stalking - so take care.

However you decide to structure your campaign, remarketing is the best way to get back in touch with someone who visited your site. Remember, they came to you once - now you can get a second bite.

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