50 Shades of Retargeting

In my first blog in this series, I explained the very basic concept of a successful retargeting campaign. AdExchanger’s daily digest noted it quite precisely as a “marketer’s POV.” Following the Twitter feed for the term “retargeting” gives you a fair gist of what the world thinks of it. There are several who find it annoying and a stealthy follower of one’s digital footprint. And then there are those who are amazed by it, for whom a contextual banner ad is more welcome than an arbitrarily laid out one.

There are several strategies that one can devise to ensure your ads end up being perceived a whole lot more useful than annoying, but we’ll come to that later. Today I’ll give you a brief overview of the many different flavors of retargeting (they may not really add up to 50, in case you were going to count). There are several ways to classify types of retargeting.

Let’s Begin With the Marketing Channel

The image below should tell you all that you need to know. If my graphical skills fall short, you can read multiple articles from various sources available here, here, and here.

retargetingchart

In the Way You Bid for the User’s Impressions

The kind of retargeting can also differ in the way the brand invests in the user’s impressions. This is important from a marketing/campaign ROI perspective.

  • Bulk buying. This involves buying retargeting impressions in bulk from a publisher or ad network based on a fixed price (CPM based). Alternately there are marketers who utilize a portion of their overall display inventory for retargeting website drop-offs. Here the advertiser does not determine the worth of every impression individually.
  • Programmatic buying (or its street name, RTB). Here the advertiser (or a representative vendor or agency) microsegments its website visitors and utilizes long-term agreements with ad networks and/or ad exchanges to bid for every user’s impression. The cost (or bid value) of every impression is different in this case and mostly identified by a variety of algorithms applied in real time (more on this later).

In the Banner One Displays to Retarget the User

Feature Static/Segmented Retargeting Standard Dynamic Retargeting Advanced Dynamic Retargeting
Useful for Awareness campaigns where the communication is standard – e.g., a car launch or for the Customs department to remind users about things they cannot bring back. Businesses with less products, categories, or customer segments. Marketers running their own retargeting campaigns (limited ability to customize communication).

Businesses with large and frequently changing product portfolios, many customer segments – e.g., OTAs, e-commerce.

Marketers who work with an agency or vendor who can continuously optimize banners for them.

Personalization Nothing much to be done here. Messaging and banner design is standard. Banners developed on the basis of a few factors like last X products viewed, name, image, and price. Several factors affect banner content – e.g., top products bought, upselling, viewed-bought correlation.
Creative Optimization Rarely needed and no scope as there exist only one or two different messages/banners (pre-created). Some optimization possible if banner templates are loaded dynamically. High need and scope for optimizing banners based on several customizable elements.

On the Retargeting Vendor’s Business Model

There are different ways in which brands may engage with a vendor (retargeting specialist). These will include:

  • Pricing models
    • Click based – CPC or CPM: usually employed by brands that use retargeting products in a self-serve mode (through their marketing team/an agency).
    • Conversion/sale based – CPA: usually employed by brands that engage with vendors on a campaign or retainer basis.
  • Operational models
    • Self-serve: the brand marketing team (or agency) runs the campaigns by using the product themselves. All creative customization and optimization is mostly done by the team themselves.
    • Fully-managed services: the brand invests for a time period/a campaign and the retargeting vendor’s in-house operations team runs the campaign for the brand.

In every way one might look at retargeting as a marketing tool, I have tried to provide a list of variants that are disparate. However, there exist shades of grey, overlaps between many of them that threaten to be a variant in themselves – e.g., a website retargeting campaign that publishes on social media (think FBX), or self-serve operational models where the vendor provides creative design as a service. Maybe if we count all these variants, I will have indeed covered 50 shades in all. Let me know if you know of or use or sell variants that I haven’t covered here!

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