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Search + Retargeting = Brand Embrace

  |  May 24, 2011   |  Comments

How to get value from consumers who don't convert from paid search.

More and more, the lines between search, display, and social are blurring. Nowhere do the lines get more blurry then when you start blending paid search with display ad retargeting. This strategy is what I like to call a "brand embrace."

The brand embrace is where you start with paid search to identify consumers and prospects that are actively seeing your products (or information on your products), and then you stay with those consumers throughout the purchase consideration phase with retargeting. Now of course you can use paid search (Google, Bing, and Yahoo) as well as banners, direct hits, and organic traffic to drive consumers into your retargeting bucket. But with paid search, you can start the process with an audience of exclusively "active buyers or information seekers."

Now I know there's nothing new about retargeting, but I have found that many clients still don't understand what it is, and if they do know what it is, they haven't realized the value of combining it with search.


What Is Retargeting (or Remarketing)?

I'm sure you've heard of paid search, banners, and organic search traffic, but let me make sure you understand retargeting. Retargeting is where you set a cookie on the browser of a person who visits your site and then you can serve text ads and banners to them as they surf around the Web on sites that are part of the retargeting network you are using. Most networks such as Burst Media, Advertising.com, ValueClick, and DrivePM (now part of the Microsoft Network) do retargeting. However, I like using the Google Network because of its size, the option to do both PPC text ads and banners, and the ability to choose the sites you want to be on. (So your ads won't end up on some college humor site or obscure, edgy blog.) This is very important for high profile brands or B2B brands that want to limit their ads to high profile or relevant sites. If specific site targeting and site transparency is not an issue for you, of course you can utilize all the engines and a few different networks to maximize the number of retargeting connections you make online.

The Brand Embrace Process

So let's walk through the full process of the brand embrace. (See the image below as well.)

  1. You drive consumers to your site via paid search. This identifies them as a consumer in the active purchase consideration phase.
  2. Network code on your landing pages (or whole site) sets a cookie on the consumer's browser labeling them as a retargeting candidate for your program.
  3. As the consumers surfs around the Web, the network will notice when they hit one of the sites they serve ads to and grab your ad to make the second, third, and even fourth connection.
  4. As time goes by, you start to build a huge base of active consumers who are familiar with your brand - your exclusive audience of active buyers.


Get Value From Consumers Who Don't Convert From Paid Search

So let's say you're running a lead gen campaign: the brand embrace will enable you to get value from the consumers who didn't convert on the first paid click and stay with those consumers who did convert and are in the purchase consideration phase. Look at it like this: your landing page has a conversion rate of 5 percent - that means 95 out of every 100 people who hit that page from your paid search ads don't convert and go away. Is that it? Are you done with them?

Heck no - with retargeting, you can stay with them as they surf around the Web. Let's say they did convert; you can target them with a different ad that helps you stay top of mind with them and influence the decision during the purchase consideration phase.

So that's the brand embrace!

Harry is off today. This column was originally published on March 15, 2011 on ClickZ.

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Harry Gold

As founder and CEO of Overdrive, Harry Gold is the architect and conductor behind the company's ROI-driven programs. His primary mission is to create innovative marketing programs based on real-world success and to ensure the marketing and technology practices that drive those successes are continually institutionalized into the culture and methods of the agency. What excites him is the knowledge that Overdrive's collaborative environment has created a company of online media, SEM, and online behavioral experts who drive success for the clients and companies they serve. Overdrive serves a diverse base of B2B and B2C clients that demand a high level of accountability and ROI from their online programs and campaigns.

Harry started his career in 1995 when he founded online marketing firm Interactive Promotions, serving such clients as Microsoft, "The Financial Times," the Hard Rock Cafe, and the City of Boston. Since then, he has been at the forefront of online branding and channel creation, developing successful Web and search engine-based marketing programs for various agencies and Fortune 500 companies.

Harry is a frequent lecturer on SEM and online media for The New England Direct Marketing Association; Ad Club; the University of Massachusetts, Boston; Harvard University; and Boston University.

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