While there are many things you should ask a potential retargeting vendor, these eight fundamental questions are the right place to start.
Retargeting is built on data collection. And some of the most important data you'll ever collect is on your site retargeting vendor. Choosing a retargeting vendor isn't easy - especially when so many vendors are selling their services with jargon and buzzwords that tell you very little about what they actually do. You don't need to be a tech whiz or to have an engineering degree to choose a vendor, but you do need to be able to ask the right questions. Here are eight fundamental questions that will help get you started:
"Reach" refers to the sites where your vendor can see your visitors after they leave your website. Be sure that your vendor has direct integrations with every source of real-time inventory (Google, Yahoo, AppNexus, and eBay, as well as dozens of other exchanges). Your vendor should also have access to premium inventory sources through private marketplaces. And don't forget the new social media exchanges when considering a vendor's reach. It's critical to be able to reach customers on both Facebook Exchange (FBX) and Twitter's Tailored Audiences.
"Effective" retargeting means using intent signals from multiple sources rather than only relying on your website data. Adding intent data, such as inbound searches that lead to a site visit, will vastly improve your retargeting capabilities. With more intent data, you'll be able to convert more customers more effectively than with standard retargeting alone. Equally important when it comes to the effectiveness and overall cost of your campaign, you'll also be able to determine which visitors shouldn't be retargeted.
"Transparence" starts with being aware of all the websites where your ads are running and being certain that they're all brand-safe websites. Also, make sure you understand how your vendor eliminates questionable traffic. A good vendor should have sound technology for identifying non-human traffic, click fraud, and low-quality publisher websites. Ask vendors if they have a team of experts who inspect and report suspicious sites, traffic, and clicks.
"Agility" comes down to your vendor's ability to help you improve your campaign over time. Always ask vendors about their most common optimization practices and whether they're using dynamic creative for more personalized targeting. Even more importantly, try to determine the number of people who will be working on your campaign. Your vendor should have a combination of optimizations managers who run the campaign day-to-day and also support people who identify key patterns and test the latest optimization tactics.
"Recency" refers to the amount of time that passes between data collection and retargeting of site visitors. In many verticals, it's crucial to retarget customers before their attention is gone. This is especially true with respect to low-involvement intent, where sales cycles tend to be shorter. Customers change their minds quickly and often, but many vendors still use outdated data-processing technology that can take hours - sometimes even a full day - to identify audiences. Such slowness is simply unacceptable for an industry that made its name on real-time bidding. Make sure you know which technology your vendor is using and whether the data processing and target identification is actually happening in real-time.
"Granularity" is the practice of retargeting at the most individual level possible. Retargeting is a breakthrough technology precisely because it allows you to target the exact right person at the exact right time. But not every vendor can actually fulfill that promise of retargeting. If you want to be certain that your retargeting will be sufficiently granular, then you can't afford to be shy when asking vendors about their technology. Specifically, you want to know whether the technology is built to retarget individual customers with personalized ads, as opposed to providing only a more generic, blanket solution. Also, be absolutely certain that you have the ability to set basic targeting variables such as frequency caps and geo-targeting.
"Efficiency" in retargeting starts with being certain that there's no audience overlap (retargeting from multiple vendors going after the same audience). But avoiding overlap is just the beginning. You also want to watch out for high-frequency caps, too many placements on low-quality sites, and a number of other factors that may be favorable to the vendor but not at all favorable to you.
"True costs" can only be determined when you first understand how your campaigns will be measured. Ask vendors how they go about finding the right balance between click-through and view-through attribution. Remember: click-through alone will never provide an accurate assessment of your costs or your return on investment. Also, it's important to keep in mind that the true acquisition cost of a customer includes not just the cost of the site retargeting itself but also the cost of driving the visitor to your site in the first place.
These eight questions aren't the only questions you'll want to ask. Generally speaking, the more questions you ask the better. But fundamental questions are the right place to start. If a vendor begins to toss out jargon when answering these questions rather than responding with ease and confidence, it's probably time to start looking for another vendor. You can download the guide here.
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Ben is Vice President of Marketing at Chango, where he heads up all marketing and communications initiatives. Prior to joining Chango, Ben worked with GE Capital for four years to establish and lead the digital media practice. This led to the development of GE Capital's digital value proposition and its execution worldwide.
Ben graduated from GE's Experienced Commercial Leadership program after completing his MBA at McGill University. Before GE, Ben held a variety of marketing and business development roles in the e-payments industry, while working at Gemalto in London.
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