Retargeting: Consumer Research Opportunity for Brand Marketers

The development in retargeting technology has given marketers a new tool not only to target a relevant audience online but a new way of understanding the behavior of their consumers.

The advantage of retargeting doesn’t stop at understanding the consumer behavior of your target audience, it can also give you invaluable inputs in terms of what works and what doesn’t in consumer motivation to “show interest” or “make a purchase”(of your brand/product).

In my 15 years of marketing experience, the biggest challenge has been to understand consumer behavior and getting to know the right “motivations” for the target audience.

As a management trainee in Daewoo Motors, I was standing with a questionnaire studying over 600 Cielo (car brand) owners talk to service advisers. In my TV marketing days, we did loads of focus group discussions to test out new concepts for TV serials, why competitor TV serials were doing better – again trying to get some insight into users’ minds. As we know, the best research happens by studying the user, while she is naturally going through her activities, rather than asking direct questions. Retargeting is a great tool to understand consumer behavior in the most natural manner.

For example, if you are an auto brand and want to understand which color is most preferred by relevant users for a new model, first, you should deploy the retargeting cookie solution on your website. Then, you ask the remarketing agency to create a pool of users who have visited the site (including traffic source) to study the newly launched model. After that you retarget these users on various retargeting platforms like GDN (Google Display Network), DSPs, and others.

If you have five colors, you may use five different kinds of banner creatives or dynamic banners in which different color car models are rotating one by one. In a simple experiment – we can study which color gets clicked the most and derive the conclusions.

But with the help of a good remarketing agency, you can work on both click-throughs and view-throughs, and add a lot of other action data to this research. The “other action data” can be a view-through leading into a Google search for your model, or a view-through leading into directly typing your site url (direct traffic).

Now the next insightful step is to break up this cookie pool into various buckets of users. To simply understand this:

  1. You have a cookie pool of interested users who came on your website.
  2. You targeted them for different product and brand attributes, like color, power, styling, fuel efficiency, price, reliability, and so on.
  3. Basic retargeting results of click-throughs and view-throughs – you get different actions from users, which we will add against each respective user.
  4. Now you will create a bucket of users. Example: the red color has come out as most popular – should we now target these users for fuel efficiency or styling? We can do both and identify which attribute is working for this bucket of users.
  5. The next obvious retargeting step is to measure “the attribute” for which you were able to get a maximum number of “interests” or “leads.”

With the retargeting data and behavior buckets you have created, you have the insights to compare it with the offline behavior of users, like primary research on users’ preferences, sales numbers, and other data. You need to combine the intelligence from both online and offline data using your resident expertise in the respective field.

The next step is to draw conclusions in terms of  what “motivations” worked for the consumer and a plan to use more of them in consumer communication. You can test these “motivations” through a strong online campaign, or use them at POP (point-of-purchase) or below-the-line communication and see the results. If your assertions are yielding the results, then it can make a case for using them in the next big above-the-line blast.

It is a very scientific process, and the best part is that users are being most natural in choosing attributes. All these are interested users, which can be further targeted as buckets of “fuel-efficiency preferring users” vs. “style and design preferring users” or any other attribute buckets you may want to create. This works for most products and brands, like cosmetics, mobile phones, apparel, shoes, computers, and so on.

One important note is when marketers plan to do this, you need to guide the remarketing agency in terms of objectives of the project. The objectives are both desired actions (leads, interests, or sales) and creating user buckets and understanding of user motivations.

Remarketing experts will generally focus on using remarketing to increase conversion rates, ROI, and converting non-buyers. As marketers, you need to give them a perspective of your challenges in terms of understanding consumer behavior and using retargeting for the same.

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