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The Myths And Realities of Retargeting

"Networking" is a new column focused on the evolving roles of networks in online advertising.

Today's column is written by Richard Frankel, President, of Rocket Fuel, Inc.

Richard Frankel of Rocket Fuel Inc.

  • He says there’s no doubt about it
  • It was the myth of fingerprints
  • I’ve seen them all and man
  • They’re all the same
    -        Paul Simon, Graceland

One of the most popular and fastest-growing display advertising tactics is retargeting, also known as remarketing. But as with any marketing technique, retargeting can be misused, misunderstood, and abused. So, as marketers dive in to leverage this promising technique, it’s high time to examine retargeting’s potential issues.

(1)   Retargeting doesn’t exist in a vacuum.

It’s a truism of marketing that advertising in multiple channels makes it hard to understand the unique effect of any particular channel. This issue is amplified online – a marketer may be using 2, 3, or even dozens of different tactics for engaging with audiences.  All of these tactics will drive customers to your site. Every time someone shows up, your retargeting partner will notice him/her, and retarget them later somewhere else on the web.  Some of these people will just show up because they know your brand, have a past history with the products, or are interested based on some other interaction.  They too will be retargeted.

Smart marketers are trying to really understand what the true lift is provided by retargeting. This is possible – and not even that hard – by using a careful test & control methodology. By doing this you can learn what the real value of retargeting is. Rocket Fuel did this recently with IMVU, a client that runs a virtual world and virtual goods marketplace. We measured the exact economic effect of our retargeting, and built a solid, fact-based business deal around those economics. We even had a bonus learning ; certain demographics had greater lift in relative value from our advertising. This allowed us to fine-tune our targeting and focus on higher-value audiences (within the total population of re-targetable people) for the client.

Best Practice: Invest in understanding the real incremental value that retargeting brings you.


Paid, Earned and Shared – Getting Rich with Social

"Networking" is a new column focused on the evolving roles of networks in online advertising.

Today's column is written by Alan Schanzer, Chief Strategy Officer of Undertone Networks.

networkingHistorically, media value was determined by a relatively simple calculation: divide campaign cost by the number of persons reached within a specified target segment expressed in thousands. Today, it’s clear that earned and social media are an increasingly important part of that equation. Reach, action, sentiment and engagement form the basis of a complex formula that is needed to determine media value.

First, a quick primer on terms, to ensure we’re all on the same page.

  • Paid media = exposure gained through fee-based advertising.
  • Earned media = coverage gained through editorial influence, like public and analyst relations.
  • Social media = awareness gained through grassroots action, often referred to as viral or shared exposure.

The focus of this piece is to explore how advertisers can synchronize their paid and social efforts to maximize campaign return. With the rise of social media – from user-generated content (UGC), to mass messaging through Twitter, the ubiquity of smart phones, etc. – brands have quickly jumped at these new opportunities to connect with consumers.


Is BT Just A Sales Tool?

Andy Atherton is COO of, an online advertising network.

Networking - Andy Atherton, Brand.netA senior agency executive who manages the digital account for an Ad Age 50 CPG manufacturer recently delivered the best line I have heard in a long time.  We were talking about Behavioral Targeting (BT) and he said, “In my experience BT is a much better sales tool than a success tool.”   He then enumerated, through specific, practical examples, the many weaknesses of BT.   Since I have been discussing this in private for years, this pithy formulation, delivered unprompted from an industry leader, convinced me that the time was right to do a little public debunking on BT.

I’ll frame the discussion using an example from another meeting I had the same week with a digital buyer for a major national peanut butter brand.  A bewitching sales person had convinced this fellow that through the miracle of BT, based on Nielsen data, he would be able to run a mass reach campaign against customers of a named competitive peanut butter brand who were going to use the product for baking rather than spreading.  In short, he could target, at scale, moms who are baking peanut butter treats for the holidays, but whose kids won’t eat PB&J sandwiches.  I have to say that sounds amazing from a sales perspective.  I mean, how could you not want to buy that?  Unfortunately, the expectations the seller had set in the buyer’s mind were far from the reality of what’s possible.


Transparency Versus Control: Which Matters More in Network Buys?

"Networking" is a new column focused on the evolving roles of networks in online advertising.

Today's column is written by Alan Schanzer, Chief Strategy Officer of Undertone Networks.

networkingOver the last several months there have been numerous reports about fraud impacting all facets of the online advertising industry – publishers, networks, agencies – and ultimately, brand marketers.

These shady practices run the gamut from the "sub-optimal" (stacked ads or incentivized clicks, from which no advertiser really benefits) to misleading (the common practice of URL padding) to the downright fraudulent —from organized click fraud to serving invisible impressions. Now, not only do marketers and agencies have to be increasingly careful about selecting their media partners, fundamental metrics like impressions and clicks need to be monitored closely for efficacy and performance.

The industry often turns to "transparency" for reassurance that a marketer is actually getting what they pay for. This is an especially sensitive hot-button for advertisers when dealing with ad networks. Media buyers look to ad networks for reach and scale, and for targeting and efficiency. But the reach and scale comes with a cautionary flag: what sites will my ads run on, exactly? How do I know you’ll be serving my ads in brand-safe environments?


Settling The Network Debate: What Are Publishers Missing?

"Networking" is a new column focused on the evolving roles of networks in online advertising.

Today's column is written by Andrew Pancer, Chief Operating Officer of Media6Degrees.

networkingIt’s become a sport to bash ad networks over the past couple years, with panels and articles calling for publishers to “fire your network.” My personal favorite was an article calling networks “a tax on lazy publishers” and publishers “idiots”. It’s interesting commentary and does bring to light some legitimate issues. The problem is that these network haters are trying too hard to make a complex solution into a black and white issue.

It’s a tough time for publishers. The publishing business is not easy to begin with. And advances in technology that have caused your traditional audience and brand sales strategy to be at risk have made it even harder. But bashing ad networks is not the answer. There is no going back. The industry has changed forever thanks to the fragmentation of audiences, the abundance of content and advances in technology – and networks and exchanges do provide a value in this new reality.

I am convinced that once the frenzy dies down, the end game will be better for the audience, publishers, and marketers alike. Having spent time on both the publisher and the advertising technology side, I’ve collected some ideas on what publishers should be doing now to adapt: