Search Retargeting – Where Search and Media Meet

Search retargeting is about increasing the relevancy and, therefore, the performance of banner ads served to searchers. While not exactly new, it represents the latest stop in a long remarketing progression in technology and approach that began with display campaign retargeting and moved through site retargeting, Google retargeting, and search retargeting through networks.

Current third-party providers like Magnetic, Chango, and can connect search queries to banner inventory and relevant messaging whether or not the searcher clicked on a search term or ever visited a site. They can access top comScore sites for premium display placements or tap exchange inventory or other real-time bidding sources for cost effective, scalable solutions to connect first-party and third-party data with search query data from the major search engines.

Where Search and Media Meet

Search often reaches those who are information or task oriented. Display often reaches highly desirable demos or profiles but you may not know if they have an immediate need or any interest in your product or service. Retargeting based on search brings these together to use search query history to signal intent but still allows for all the behavioral, day part, recency, demographic, geographic, psychographic, and other sophisticated targeting that you can layer on to improve messaging, relevancy, and conversion in your banner buy.

10 ways to think about search retargeting in your overall plan:

1. Search retargeting provides a hyper-focused, ROI positive addition to your marketing toolbox.

What if you have maxed out your search campaign within your acceptable ROI? You’ve implemented every step in the best practices search handbook, and you’ve hit a plateau in terms of visibility and spend. This allows you to continue to use search to reach new customers via display, open up the top of the funnel during the awareness phases leveraging search intent.

2. Search retargeting allows you to target competitor terms or brands without bidding up click costs or starting a range war.

There are many situations where overt competitor targeting might not be a good idea. This allows you to target competitor terms and engage with (potentially) their customers in display media, giving you the opportunity to introduce your brand or a specific promotion to motivate trial or sale.

3. Search retargeting has the potential to optimize overall marketing spend by reducing and shifting marketing dollars from SEM on expensive keywords.

If you can’t sustain the broad, high funnel keywords because of competitive pressures and the attending high CPC ranges, low quality scores, or short budget then you have the option to include those keywords within your search retargeting campaign. This allows you to continue to target key terms more cost effectively while joining reach and brand awareness with intent for effectiveness. These are typically the high-level brand awareness keywords that often don’t meet ROI guidelines for a traditional search campaign. Also the ad inventory used through the ad exchanges is typically more cost effective than other targeted display inventory so budgets stretch further on that score as well.

4. Integration. The value shifts to cross-discipline media folks, rather than search or display experts who work in silos. As a result, practitioners must research, plan, buy, and maximize in an integrated fashion – each channel for its strengths.

5. Consumer ad relevancy is improved as ads are more targeted to their needs. This leads to improved performance and efficiency.

Recency: Using search retargeting we can target intent with recency – not 30 days after they searched for something random and not because they visited your homepage once by accident.

Messaging: Ad creative and messaging can be tailored and sequenced. Segmentation is based on nuances in the specific search queries. Customized messaging can be tailored to audience interests.

6. Closes the loop. Search retargeting provides a rich feedback set to understand gaps in SEO and provide further data points for SEM optimization.

SEO efforts/results are an arduous process and the payoff is long term. Much like how SEM is the short-term visibility partner to a longer-term SEO effort, search retargeting can provide visibility and reach where otherwise you were unable to do so.

7. Takes your search efforts off the search page to reaches consumers when they are not searching.

The paid search landscape is huge but still limited, and the majority of people searching on Google are not going to land on your site. When program growth in certain search campaigns is stunted, this is an option to expand efforts in a targeted manner.

8. Provides another tool and testing platform to refine attribution modeling.

Often the lion’s share of credit is attributed to branded searches without the thought or technical structure to track what terms really drove awareness and consideration. Search retargeting gets us closer to a true valuation of originator and assist terms that may have just as much value in a robust campaign.

9. Offers an additional tactic to target users at the top of the customer consideration funnel.

The typical conversion funnel places display media tactics at the top of the funnel creating awareness while placing search tactics at the bottom of the funnel impacting consideration, intent, and purchase. Search retargeting blurs the placement on that funnel by allowing awareness and intent to work together. Search and display have synergy, but through search retargeting, they truly work together. Many recent studies suggest an amplifying effect of integrating search and display media, lifting both the volume search activity and increasing positive brand metrics.

10. Leverages the concept of behavioral targeting by utilizing search intent as the actual qualifier.

Search retargeting gives you the reach and scale of display leveraging the intent of search. This is a powerful combination and simplifies the process of learning about your profitable customers. You may not have the hundreds of behavioral points that define your target consumer. But if you can simply place a Google Analytics tag on your site to find out the high value keywords, you can use that info to reach out to searchers across exchange inventory with rich, segmented, strategic display ads.

Search retargeting is a hybrid model that combines the ability of search queries to signal intent with the targeting capabilities of display media for optimum ROI. Advertisers or marketers who do both search and display media buying can jump in quickly because they understand both sides of the process. They just need to understand how to connect the strategies.

Related Reading

To learn more about site and creative retargeting, see “Retargeting – 3 Approaches for Advertisers,” by Rob Graham.

Related reading

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