Search + Retargeting = Brand Embrace

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.

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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.

search-embrace

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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