Remarketing: Truly good, or too good to be true?

Earlier this month we took an in-depth look at the ins and outs of Google AdWords.

The general sentiment was that while AdWords can be a great tool for getting your brand or offers noticed, it can be a bit of a waste if it isn’t done properly. You can read the full article Help we’ve gone all Google-Eyed!

This week we’re carrying on with our Google theme, and as promised we’re taking a look at Remarketing, which is a sort of sister product to AdWords. Actually, it’s more than just a sister product – in our opinion it’s a much smarter, better-looking and more effective sister product.

In fact, Remarketing is almost too clever; it makes super-relevant ads repeatedly appear in your internet browser, making it seem like certain brands are following you all over the internet. Like stalkers. Psychic stalkers!

This causes unease in some people, but figures suggest that the vast majority of customers (and the advertisers they buy from) don’t mind it.

In this article we’re going to look at what Remarketing is, how it works, and whether it’s good, or too good to be true.

Let’s get started.

Remember the movie Minority Report?

You know that scene in Minority Report where Tom Cruise is walking down the street and the futuristic digital posters all know his name and start targeting specific ads at him?

This is similar to what Remarketing does. I’m calling this the Minority Report Effect. It’s kinda creepy, but there’s no denying that it works incredibly well.

Imagine you’re doing some online research on digital cameras. You’re reading reviews, visiting camera retailers’ websites, watching YouTube demonstrations and so on, trying to decide which one to buy.

After an evening of searching, you decide to call it a night. You leave a camera in shopping cart on the JB Hi-Fi website, but don’t go through with the purchase. It’s expensive, and you want to spend a little longer making your mind up.

The next day, you get home from work and decide to watch a couple of YouTube videos. You notice that the display ads on YouTube are showing you more camera deals than usual. Strange.

You start browsing a couple of blogs, forums and news sites, and again notice that you’re seeing a lot of camera ads showing models you’ve been looking at, and JB Hi-Fi is featuring pretty prominently among them.

It’s as if the internet knows what you’ve been looking at, and now it’s showing you ads based on your browsing history.

This is Remarketing, and this is exactly why it’s so powerful.

How do they know what I’ve been looking at?

Depending on your level of internet knowledge, you may or may not know about cookies.

Cookies are little snippets of coded data that load from a website into your browser (Chrome, Safari, Firefox, etc.) and are stored. They’re the things that help your favourite websites remember that you’re in Australia and not the USA, or that remember your saved usernames and passwords.

Unless you clear your stored cookies, the next time you visit that same website, it’ll remember things about you. This is how Remarketers know to target you.

Who serves these Remarketing ads?

If Remarketing basically consists of targeted ads following you all over the internet, someone has to be making money from these ad placements, right?

No prizes for guessing who’s making all this money. It is, of course, our friend Google.

The Google Display Network, as it’s called, is a list of millions of websites and online properties that Google has teamed up with to serve ads.

Think of a popular site that you visit fairly often, and chances are it’s part of the Display Network. Google actually claims that the Display Network serves 90% of the world’s web traffic with text ads, image ads, video ads and mobile ads. That’s a lot of coverage.

It’s also worth noting that Google isn’t the only company that offers Remarketing, but it is the largest.

What makes Remarketing so good?

To be honest, there just aren’t many downsides to Remarketing. Perhaps the only real negative is that people might sometimes feel like you’re stalking them – but this is easily avoided by tweaking where, when, and for how long your ads persist.

Remarketing actually doesn’t even require your customers to have visited your site and picked up a cookie from it. If you want to target people based on keywords or search terms (more similar to the way basic AdWords works), you can do something called Remarketing Lists for Search Ads, which gives you all the same benefits.

1. It’s cheap
With Remarketing, you can either pay per click, or per impression. The cost will vary according to your industry, but as your ads are much more targeted to a much smaller pool of web users, you’re paying a lot less than AdWords.

2. It’s super targeted
People who see your ads have already been to your website. You can set up your Remarketing ads for extremely specific criteria; for example, you could target people who have put one particular item in their shopping cart in the last 5 days, but who haven’t completed their purchase, and the ad only appears once you’ve lowered your price by 10%.

3. It’s about converting warm leads
Warm leads are far more preferable than cold ones. With Remarketing, you can focus on getting the ball over the line, rather than trying to get a totally new prospect to go from zero to purchase. You know that your customers know your brand, you know where they’ve been on your website, and you know what they want to buy.

4. Your ads can be more visual and creative
Because Remarketing allows images, animated banners and videos in addition to standard text, you have a much larger arsenal of creative tools at your disposal. Imagine how much more compelling a targeted, relevant animation looks compared to a simple AdWords text ad.

5. It integrates with your Google advertising tools
Remarketing isn’t just about closing warm leads – you can also use it for more generic purposes like building brand awareness and stimulating loyalty, or simply to remind people about your brand once they’ve already visited your site.

6. It’s multi-purpose
Being a Google product, Remarketing syncs up perfectly with your other Google advertising tools, including AdWords (which it is technically part of), Google Analytics, and so on. This makes for excellent data collection, performance tracking, analysis, and more.

It sounds too good to be true. Is it?

Remarketing is one of those rare cases where something sounding so good isn’t actually something to be worried about.

If you’re considering learning a little about Remarketing or giving it a try, it’s important to remember that nothing is going to work on its own. Just like we said in our AdWords article last month, these Google tools should be used as part of a wider strategy, not just on their own.

When executed correctly, a Remarketing campaign can offer excellent re-conversion for dropped leads, and an extremely low cost per acquisition. It can boost your overall AdWords campaign’s performance figures, and it can significantly boost your company’s recognition among infrequent or one-time visitors to your website.

Want to learn more? Check out Google’s own rundown of Remarketing, or give the Sketch team a ring on 07 3352 6657.

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