Content Retargeting: The Next Big Thing For Brand Publishers

daxhammanData-Driven Thinking” is written by members of the media community and contains fresh ideas on the digital revolution in media.

Today’s column is written by Dax Hamman, chief product officer of Chango.

If you’re a digital marketer, you likely understand the basics of retargeting, at the very least. If you don’t, tell no one. Retargeting, which allows brands to serve ads based on a user’s online behavior, on any device or format, is big business.

As with every widely used practice, there’s always a next best thing. In the case of retargeting, that’s content retargeting. As the name implies, content retargeting allows marketers to target users based on online content consumption. This is critical because the content someone chooses to engage with online is a strong signal of his or her interests.

Marketers spend a lot of money on recommended stories, yet to date there’s been no great solution to retarget that highly engaged audience following a click on a recommended piece. Nobody’s quite doing it yet, but content retargeting could be a golden opportunity to solve some of these problems by re-engaging consumers who’ve interacted with a brand’s content, third-party reviews or media coverage.

They’ve Engaged With Branded Content. Now What?

Content retargeting after a consumer has engaged with branded content extends the classic site retargeting beyond product pages. Brands can simply drop a cookie as their content loads and retarget users with display or video ads via the exchanges.

Ultimately, it will be possible to retarget users with recommended links on publisher sites. For example, a consumer who is looking for information on picking the best mortgage visits They could be retargeted with a recommended link, “5 things to watch out for when deciding on a mortgage,” by Citibank on

Brands spend huge portions of their budgets on content marketing, but all too often they have no way of re-engaging consumers who interact with it. With content retargeting, brands have a powerful new way to increase the ROI of their content marketing.

Retargeting Those Who’ve Engaged With Third-Party Reviews, Media Coverage 

This approach makes it possible to retarget consumers after they have browsed a third-party website. A publisher or recommendation provider can drop a cookie on a user’s browser and then retarget the user with display or video ads across the exchanges.

For example, the same consumer who read “5 things to watch out for when deciding on a mortgage” on would subsequently be shown a pre-roll video on YouTube from Citibank.

This is interesting when you think about brand perception derived from objective, trusted sources like media coverage and third-party reviews. I know Outbrain, for one, considers this a particularly interesting opportunity. These pieces of content, over which the brand has no involvement or influence, are highly effective at impacting perception high up in the funnel. After building awareness and consideration using third-party reviews and media coverage, marketers can then retarget these audiences to drive them to bottom-funnel actions.

Of course, content retargeting has its limitations. Reading a branded article or visiting a review site isn’t always as clear of a demonstration of intent as an online search or visit to a product page. Sometimes people like to read about products and services they have no interest in ever buying. Still, the willingness to engage with content can certainly be a very valuable signal. That’s why I expect to see content retargeting to be the next big thing for brand publishers.

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  1. Content Retargeting isn’t new. It was called Behavioral Targeting and it’s been around for 10+ years. Tacoda did it well, and it’s great for branding – which is why AOL shut it down in favor of, which delivered better results. The key isn’t knowing what a user was reading or what product they were looking at; the key is knowing their mindset LIVE, as it happens. And that is why Yieldbot delivers performance comparable to or better than Retargeting but without the reliance on cookies. Behavioral by another name just doesn’t stack up.

  2. And the first comment in is spam! Scott, respect for what Yieldbot has achieved, but to imply Yieldbot is the only Live tool is a stretch.

    Content retargeting is not being positioned here as something new, but it is something new to some marketers – some of which read ad exchanger. Live is always better, and second best is recent. We prefer live and focus on it, but marketers should be aware of recent (as apposed to past) and understand its place when balancing against reach. We have a $5m client running this sort of activity, and in which case recent is unavoidable when throwing in factors such as quality, fraud and viewability.

  3. Hi Scott, the intent of this article was to explore a new type of retargeting/ behavioral targeting that can piggy back on content published by brands on third party educational web sites. This is a little different from site retargeting or behavioral targeting which is everything but new. Content recommendation widgets like OutBrain, Taboola and many others are relatively new, and that’s why we felt there’s a an opportunity for content retargeting that wasn’t necessarily available 10 years ago.

  4. Thanks Dax for sharing this useful perspective on how retargeting can be applied to content marketing. I agree completely with your underlying point, but also believe some of the use cases here are just scratching the surface. One issue with today’s retargeting technology is that it frequently tends to beat you over the head with the same creative, potentially even with a product that you’ve already purchased. We’ve all experienced that annoying use case as consumers. What’s special about content is that it contains a ton of meta data, and for the best brands, there’s so much more to choose from that can be matched to a user based on their interests and context. So from my biased point of view, the more compelling end game is one in which an individualized series of content is served to the user over time. That way you’re not just cleverly using retargeting to show more content to someone, but you’re making smarter real-time decisions about which next piece of content is most likely to advance the relationship between the brand and the consumer.

  5. Taboola has had this capability (and it is widely used in several different use cases, for performance and brand marketers alike) for more than 2 years. Content serves as a non-threatening and highly-effective means to qualify new and undiscovered audiences from around the web; and it’s more efficient compared to other channels such as Paid Search, which relies on users to have their hands raised in the air. Contact me via if you’re interested in learning more about how to leverage sequential targeting to help accelerate your funnel with exposure to new audiences.

  6. Hi Scott,
    Excellent article. The content retargeting is an essential tool in the success of a digital marketer now a days.This is a powerful tool based on the mind set of the consumers . Thanks for sharing this informative article.