Remarketing (also known as retargeting) is based on the idea that many people will not convert on their first visit, but might need to come back a few times before making a purchase, getting in touch or otherwise taking a valuable action. Simple analytics often backs this up with hard numbers. For some sites, especially those that involve a significant business decision or a purchase with high value, it’s actually quite rare for someone to convert on their first visit. Bringing people back is crucial.

Remarketing works by placing a cookie on the viewer’s computer, which then tells the advertising platform that this user can be served display ads from a corresponding ad campaign. Limits can be set on the number of your impressions they’ll see, so they don’t feel like your ad is following them wherever they go.

The remarketing audience can be tightly targeted, for example to people who added a product to their basket but didn’t actually buy.

In many cases, a well-run remarketing campaign will have an excellent conversion rate, and as we’re talking display ads, clicks are often much cheaper than they would be with a traditional search campaign. We have run intelligently created, continually optimized remarketing campaigns on several different platforms and for dozens of clients.

Social media, email and other audiences

A remarketing audience doesn’t have to consist of people who have visited your website. It can be made up of those who have watched one of your Youtube videos for example, or who have signed up for one of your email lists. You can show this audience standard text ads, static or animated image ads, or video.

Image, video and text ads can also be shown to audiences that may never have had any contact with your brand. You can choose the kind of site you’d like your ads to appear on (or even list specific domain choices in many cases) and/or who you’d like to see them by age, gender, interests, precise location and a huge range of other factors. Those platforms with the most detailed in formation—Facebook for example—will also allow targeting by political preferences, marital or home ownership status, job and more. LinkedIn offers a similar depth of advertising for B2B customers, by dimensions like job title and field.

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Balancing impressions and quality

More general display advertising can be very cheap when considered on a per-click or per-thousand-impressions (CPM) basis, but the results can also be less immediate and more difficult to quantify than those of more search-based advertising. It’s easy to waste money on digital advertising if ROI isn’t properly quantified, and that is particularly true in the display sphere. No matter how high impression counts are or how cheap clicks appear to be, it pays never to lose site of costs on a per-acquisition basis, not just per click or per interaction.