Search Retargeting: It's Ready

  |  April 4, 2007   |  Comments

If you haven't already, it's time to step into search retargeting. What it is, and how to use it.

Early adoption has its advantages, but being an aggressive innovator may not be the best idea when it comes to new targeting options. Hang back just a little bit while the bugs shake out. See what's really working among the dizzying array of options for online marketers.

Finally, it's time to step into search retargeting, if you haven't already.

What exactly is search retargeting? Where is it in terms of development? Who offers the technology, and how can you use it to effectively affect the results of your clients' campaigns?

Search retargeting adds a layer of relevancy to banners served to searchers after they leave your client's site. The technology recognizes a user's initial need based on the search keyword used. This should increase the value of a search listing by increasing the likelihood of a conversion.

Through this technology, advertisers can reach a target audience with display ads that are highly relevant to the way users search. Say user A comes to a site and browses for business suits but leaves without buying. If you use search retargeting to track user A onto the business suit landing page, the ads served to him after he leaves your site would feature business suits with perhaps a 15 percent off offer. While all retargeting can effectively increase site conversions, search retargeting can help by more closely matching a user's expressed needs with the creative served in a banner.

Caveat: Search retargeting for specific site pages only works if you have enough traffic volume on those pages. This requires search efforts be robust (paid and organic) to individual landing pages. For clients with a smaller volume of site traffic who primarily send searchers to the home page, search retargeting isn't the best choice. Other retargeting efforts and how you buy them (on a CPM or CPA basis) can also affect whether you can successfully add search retargeting to a campaign.

Readily Available for Testing?

Many of the ad networks tout search retargeting capabilities, but it's still a fairly new technology, complete with some kinks that need to be worked out both in implementation and in combination with other retargeting efforts.

A few networks currently selling search retargeting include, BlueLithium, and Revenue Science. DRIVEpm will soon join this list, as its offering (Search Remessaging) is currently in the beta testing phase. Each network calls this capability something different, but all offer the same basic concept. offers Search LeadBack. It places a pixel in the click-through URL rather than on the client's site. With Search LeadBack, advertisers can track a variety of behaviors, including clicks, registrations, and sales. Users demonstrating these behaviors are grouped according to the keyword search that initiated the site visit.

BlueLithium's AdPath Search retargets based on the individually tagged pages that correlate with that search term. Once a user reaches the tagged page, AdPath identifies them as a person who came via search. Blue Lithium claims AdPath Search has shown a 40 to 60 percent improvement in search conversions.

Revenue Science calls its offering Audience Connect Search Re-Targeting, which works along the same lines as Blue Lithium's AdPath. Audience Connect gives advertisers a second chance to convert interested leads by placing tags on the top search landing pages and marrying the creative to the retargeting banners for those pages. Revenue Science sells its service on a CPC (define) basis.

One thing that's not clear in search retargeting is how you differentiate between visitors who land on pages you can reach through search and visitors who just naturally end up there in site navigation. Does this really matter? So long as the ads go to consumers who are interested in the products your search efforts are driving, I'd think not.

As with any campaign, to effectively utilize behavioral search retargeting, strong creative and messaging relative to landing pages and search terms are imperative. These elements can have a huge impact on overall campaign performance. Developing special offerings and unique messages helps entice and bring back visitors back to your site.

Search behaviors aren't straightforward but complex and evolving. If you have sufficient traffic to individual pages on your client's site, this is definitely a tactic worth testing to increase conversion from all those searches in your next behavioral targeting campaign.

Meet Robin at Search Engine Strategies April 10-13 at the Hilton New York in New York City.

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Robin Neifield

Robin is the CEO and cofounder of NetPlus Marketing Inc., a top 50 interactive agency established in 1996 to focus exclusively on online marketing and advertising best practices. Robin brings innovative strategy and a depth and breadth of marketing experience to the agency's practice and management. As one of the industry's pioneers, she is a driving force behind NetPlus Marketing's ongoing success with a diverse and discerning client base that considers online results critical to their business success.

Robin is a frequent speaker at national industry events, including ClickZ,, OMMA, Ad:Tech, SES, Online Marketing Summit, and Thunder Lizard conferences and is a sought-after resource for industry and business publications for her insight and advice on such topics as digital strategy, social media marketing, and behavioral targeting.

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