Home Data-Driven Thinking Retargeting By Any Other Name Is Still Retargeting

Retargeting By Any Other Name Is Still Retargeting


justin-petty“Data-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 Justin Petty, vice president of global media and partnerships at dunnhumby.

We’ve all done it. Days after browsing a product online, maybe across several different sites, we see it out of the corner of our eye on the screen. “You know you want me. C’mon, just click this ad.”

For many of us, it works. We’re sold.

It’s similar to a friend saying, “You look great in that jacket, just get it.” We might not buy immediately; we‘re uncertain or think we might find it cheaper elsewhere. But we like instant gratification, so typically only wait a couple days at most before breaking down and buying. And that’s one of the reasons retargeting works.

Retargeting has always been a label applied to advertisements triggered by a consumer’s online behavior. In today’s world of big data, the lines are blurring between offline consumer behavior and online ad targeting. In essence, everyone can now retarget, even if it’s not labeled as such.

Mention retargeting and you often get a reaction as if the person has just eaten a lemon, peel and all. Then they tell you about a pair of shoes that followed them around online for weeks. It’s annoying when you’ve already purchased the product and don’t intend to buy it again.

More positively, retargeting can remind you that the brand you love is out there, always waiting for you. Whether you like to browse cars or guitars, seeing the ads repeatedly is relevant and sometimes more interesting than the article you’re reading.

What about products with limited online availability, like CPG products? Historically, these brands haven’t had a way to retarget customers in the traditional sense, instead being limited to retargeting website visitors. Without an ecommerce platform, measureable value is limited. However, with the increase in programmatic buying and robust consumer data available, offline verticals can now retarget based on purchase history.

Programmatic media spending is expected to grow more than 25% each year for the foreseeable future. The CPG industry is now the second-largest buyer of programmatic media behind retail, according to Casale Media’s Q2 2014 Index Quarterly Report. This is for the same basic reason that retargeting works: When historical shopping behavior is used to target an online audience, based on purchases made in a physical store, it’s the offline to online equivalent of retargeting.

Other verticals, with significant ecommerce presence, have always had the data needed for retargeting. The rise of CPGs in the programmatic space is due to the increase in data available for CPGs to leverage. Offline buyers of their brand are available as online audiences through various forms of data-management platforms. Like retargeting in the traditional ecommerce space, it’s now extremely effective for offline sales, too. Though the ad isn’t triggered by online behavior, it’s still a form of retargeting.


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Brand loyalty makes this work particularly well for CPG brands. When you see an ad for your favorite beverage, it’s relevant and often provides a promotional message or coupon that delivers value back to you. With programmatic buying based on consumer behavior, ads can be targeted to the right individuals – that is, those who buy the brand in-store. Advertising to already-loyal customers may seem counterintuitive to marketers who only aim to find more people who look like their current consumers.

Savvy marketers understand that targeting existing consumers is effective for two reasons. First, it will take, on average, 20 new trial consumers to equal the loss of one brand loyalist, and second, even the most loyal consumers still have capacity to buy more. Programmatically serving ads to these people gives a better online experience, through more relevant ads for the consumer, and delivers a better long-term return on investment.

Where common retargeting fails is when you have browsed a product at multiple ecommerce sites and purchased from only one. Those you didn’t patronize think you’re still interested in their ads. This is exactly why the retargeting idea works for products and brands one repeatedly buys: Brand awareness is critical to good marketing and routinely delivering ads to loyal consumers makes sense.

Consider frequent travelers with multiple hotel chains to consider. They might browse rates at several hotels and then select one. Even though they’ve already made their choice, continuing to see ads for other hotels may lead them to make a different decision on subsequent trips, especially if the ad is compelling. For a hotel chain, systematically and consistently serving ads to their best customers, even if they haven’t recently visited their website, helps sustain brand awareness. Using their CRM database to identify to whom to serve those ads is just another form of retargeting.

Targeting brand loyal consumers has proven to deliver between four and 10 times as much ROI when compared to targeting nonloyal households. Programmatic buying and retargeting are essential in achieving such ambitious results – no matter what you call it.

Follow Justin Petty (@just_n_petty), dunnhumby (@dunnhumby) and AdExchanger (@adexchanger) on Twitter.

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