Home Online Advertising Marketers Eye The Higher-Hanging Fruit In Retargeting

Marketers Eye The Higher-Hanging Fruit In Retargeting


ReTargetLong paramount to the performance marketing strategies of online display advertisers, retargeting is still subject of a great debate.

From a user standpoint, the most obvious form of “abuse” is the all-too-familiar feeling of being followed by an ad or brand across the Web. And then there’s the question of how much spend is wasted on targeting consumers who have already converted – or at least made up their mind — by the time an ad is served.

Some marketers are pushing for more nuance. And vendors say they are responding.

“There is a fine line between being a stalker and being useful,” remarked Kelly Gillease, VP of marketing for global travel and tours site Viator.com. Viator uses Rakuten MediaFORGE to retarget adventure-seekers in search of unconventional deals like night tours of the Vatican.

Gillease said, “If you’re showing people ads that do something useful, that help you continue shopping or provide something interesting instead of saying ‘Come back!’ it provides something contextual to what they were viewing on the Web,” making it less spammy.

Ecommerce marketers that have invested significant resources perfecting email segmentation have come to realize they can achieve
similar personalization in the display channel, according to Jason Kelly, CEO of Sociomantic Labs. “This gives them the 
opportunity to create an amplification effect between two previously 
disparate performance marketing channels, both of which give them the 
chance to use personalized offers to increase conversions.”

To ensure media spend actually results in consumer influence, advertiser and vendor should implement proper frequency caps and minimize overlap in spend so that dollars are not wasted.

“One of the things I find most valuable…is the way we can evaluate post-engagement,” Gillease said. “It’s not about post-impression data. I take all the transactions that come in with my campaigns and I look at where these people fall within our other attribution” sources.

Viator runs what Gillease describes as a “big and robust” search marketing program, branded display campaigns, an affiliate program, email and unpaid programs. A key concern is minimizing overlap, where Viator wants and needs to know that a remarketing placement is not bringing back a customer who would have otherwise returned to the site through other means.

Data-Driven Retargeting And Scale

Some marketers miss the mark by failing to make their retargeting efforts more data-driven over time. In addition to MediaFORGE media and first-party email data, Viator has done a campaign with LiveRamp to cookie-match and find and reactivate customers who haven’t transacted with the site in two years. There are plans to expand that threshold to consumers who are on the fence with travel – they haven’t been lost yet, but it’s been awhile since they’ve traveled.


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Measuring nuances in visitor personas is a pillar in the progressive approach to retargeting.

“People are realizing that there is valuable first-party data for ‘everyone else’ who is not necessarily at the bottom of the funnel. Being able to activate that data is critical,” Mark Flaharty, Criteo’s SVP of Sales, North America, commented in a recent interview. “Often, retargeting can be a shiny object…where people say, ‘Oh there’s a cookie — send them an ad’ and if I only focus on one particular source of inventory, I can, in theory, get plenty of reach.”

A recent American Marketing Association journal titled, “When Does Retargeting Work?” found that consumers respond positively to ads displaying detailed product information when they have “narrowly construed preferences.” If a consumer shows evidence of “evolving” product preferences, such as searching product review sites, dynamic retargeted ads have more of an impact. So, if a consumer is just beginning the search process, generic, high-level ads could show stronger performance.

Consumer-Centric Creative

Viator has seen an engagement rate of 20% when delivering dynamic retargeted ads that surface details in a product “carousel” displaying destinations that site visitors had browsed on-site. The key, she said, is to replicate the experience naturally while adding value.

“Rather than generating a generic ad or creating some sort of offer people may or may not be interested in or asking for an email address, it’s really extending our presence on the Web [to] pull in images, star ratings, pricing and titles of products,” Gillease said.

MediaFORGE’s creative services made scaling content in nine different languages to reach various global markets the “main differentiator” for Viator, Gillease said.

As Jeremy Post, director of acquisition marketing at vintage ecommerce site ModCloth.com, a Sociomantic customer, pointed out during a retailer roundtable at the Shop.org Summit in Chicago — there’s a certain creep factor that’s unavoidable in retargeting.

The way the brand has adapted to it is by getting creative with its messaging. For instance, an email subject line “Lookie Here” generated a higher CTR than any form of messaging tested. “We wanted to avoid the ‘in your face’ retargeting approach, Post noted; rather than by bombarding consumers with generic win-backs, you might say something like “items in your shopping cart will be eaten by gnomes” to keep a flair of frivolity.

“Some people focus on the ‘who put what in the shopping cart?’ low-hanging fruit of retargeting, but we wanted a more holistic look at customer profiles across a lifecycle [that regardless of whether or not] a cookie expires, we can keep adding to her profile,” Post said.

“What we’re seeing is that advertisers are getting smarter about how to 
manage their customer relationships from the first display touch-point 
throughout the customer lifetime — from prospecting, to retargeting, and 
then on to loyalty,” Kelly noted. “All three of these phases are critical to creating 
sustainable revenue growth.”


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