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Remarketing, are you doing it and if you're not, should you be?

That’s the question I want to put out there for everyone. In the world of PPC, there are many players. For today’s discussion, I’m going to focus on Google since they own 80%+ of the market.

What’s remarketing you ask – great, glad you did. According to Wikipedia, Retargeting (or Remarketing as Google calls it inside Adwords) is…

is a form of online targeted advertising by which online advertising is delivered to consumers based on previous Internet actions that did not in the past result in a conversion (in other words, the action intended by the site owner, typically making a purchase)

The reason I wanted to start a discussion on retargeting was to see..

1. Does it work?


2. Are you doing it? If so, with success?

Retargeting From the Consumer Side

Here’s my personal story with retargeting:

About a month ago, I was searching for a new car – specifically an Infiniti G37. I didn’t plan on buying one anytime soon, but I was just starting to research. I was on Google and since my search yielded a very targeted paid search ad right to the Infiniti site on the G37, I clicked it. I arrived on the Infiniti site to browse for a few minutes and research. Then, I left.

Well, since Infiniti wants to maximize all their paid clicks, they were able to leverage Google’s remarketing platform to notice that I had clicked the Infiniti PPC ad, but didn’t (in the eyes of whatever Infiniti wants me to do) convert.

Since then, for the past month, every site that I visit that’s showing Adsense, I see something like so:

Photo Credit: Google

You’ll notice that I was on a site about C++, nothing related to cars in this case at all. Typically, Adsense is site sensitive and will serve ads to visitors based on the site’s content, except in the case of remarketing.

You will see ads based on the premise that you previously visited a site from a PPC customer of Google (Infiniti in this case) that didn’t achieve their goal. They do this in hopes to get you (the customer) to convert. So will I convert and give Infiniti my information so they can sell me a new car?

If they keep this remarketing campaign up, I just might indeed. See how this applies to the customers you’re currently losing that don’t convert once they click your PPC ad?

Retargeting From the Advertiser Side

Google makes this super easy. Basically, you select your campaign and then tell the Adwords rule that you want target visitors on the Google Content network (ie. Adsense) that you want to see your ads that previously clicked your PPC ad but didn’t convert. It’s that simple.

Now it’s your turn to share… are you using Remarketing? Is it working? What types of conversion rates are you all seeing? I’d love to see what everyone thinks about remarketing/retargeting in general…

Cheers, Matthew

About Matthew Swanson

My name is Matthew Swanson and I’ve been in the online world right at 12 years now. I started as a web developer at in 2000 working with Shane Pike. transitioned as we were bought by CareerBuilder in 2002 and I worked on the plumbing and site infrastructure team building the platform for about 7 years in several different roles. Before leaving CareerBuilder in 2007, I helped to launch the CareerBuilder – Facebook partnership. I’m currently the CTO at HBN Interactive and run House Buyer Network – our service helps connect tens of thousands of distressed and motivated home sellers with our network of top tier Real Estate Agents across the US and Canada.Starting in January 2011, our sister company, HBN Media, started the build and launch of Commissions, Inc., a platform connecting brokers and agents with home seekers across the US and Canada. We provide the tools necessary to increase the quality and quantity of buyer leads for brokers and agents. Our platform helps our brokers and agents effectively and efficiently manage those leads through our innovative software and data capture technologies. If your interested, let me know.

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  • Alex

    Intersting post, Matthew. I haven't used this (or PPC, for that matter), but from a consumer's standpoint I would think that it becomes a bit too intrusive and I would be less likely to follow up. In your example, you were looking for info the G37 (btw, the sedan is phenomenal, I was disappointed with the coupe), did you have any interest in having that in your face AFTER you left the site and progressed to different interests? It's a bit too 'in your face' for my taste but I'd love to hear from someone who has firsthand experience on this.

    • matthewswanson

      Great points Alex! Anyone else have thoughts on this? I can definitely see your point. I would think at some point in time, it would make sense to not show the remarketing ad any longer – maybe after 3 days or something? (thanks for the tip on the g sedan 🙂 )

      • I’m not sure how Google does it, but other platforms

      • samirsoriano

        I'm not sure how Google does it, but other ReTargeting platforms give controls over impression caps, and removing users from the ReTargeting pool after making a conversion. That said, you didn't buy anything, but you still saw ads. The fact that you noticed the ads is testament to something (I never notice ads unless they're for things that I have some interest in)– and while you may not have converted right a way, someone else who went to the Infiniti site very well may have.

        That said, as far as whether or not your company should be using ReTargeting — it depends how big your company is, and what you're looking to get out of it. For really small businesses, ReTargeting is a great tool for brand scaling. ReTargeting will let the small business' audience think that the brand is bigger than it actually is.

        For advertisers who are a bit bigger, then ReTargeting can be very useful for driving conversion by staying in front of the visitors (just like in your example – you didn't convert, but the reminder could have very well lead someone else to convert).

  • Wow. I didn't know about this feature. I can see how this could be uber-powerful. I have very small Adwords budget. I do get clicks, but I don't know if they “convert”… I can't tell if those clicks translated into IDX registration or if it was a registration from another source like trulia or craigslist. I'm sure there is a way to figure that out, but it must be over my head.

    At any rate, I don't think the average surfer would know or understand what “retargeting” is. I think they would get further exposure to your brand and think “Wow. He must be a really successful real estate agent… Maybe I should give him a second look.”

    Here is my question. Can you set your Retargeting ads to only show up to those who spent more than a few seconds on your site? In other words, can you weed out the “bouncers” who didn't find what they needed on your site?

  • geordieromer

    There are a number of different companies that offer retargeting and on multiple ad networks, not just Google.

    Much like PPC I think this would work best for very specific niches. For example, do you have a specific landing page for specific condo development or neighborhood? Retargeting visitors who visit that page would convert much better than just folks who visited your home page.

    Here's a great way to use retargeting in my mind. Let's say you have a specific landing page for prospective sellers or maybe FSBOs. Instead of serving them ads convincing them to list with you, why not show off your listings? The prospective seller will see your ads everywhere they go and think “wow, that real estate agent does a great job advertising!” (And you don't pay for the impressions… you just pay when they click.)

  • Joe Segal

    Has anyone actually tested this themselves with Real Estate?

  • Ben F.

    I’ve recently been going over this as well as I am in real estate but for the last few months I have been working for a retargeting vendor who supplies this for online retailers.

    Ideally, like how they do it with online retailers, I would like to serve ads to the users who already saw my site. This in itself gets tricky as you have to cookie users who come to the page. Not sure if there is a solution for this on a small scale so google may be the best option.

    This is pretty new for the real estate world it seems, maybe there will be a better solution in the near future to really be able to target users.

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