Is Ad Retargeting Still Effective?

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What is Ad Retargeting?

Ad retargeting is a type of online advertising that involves sending targeted messages to users based on their behavior on previous websites.

Ad retargeting utilizes a JavaScript tag in a website to keep track of people who visit the site and displays advertisements to potential customers as they visit other sites. Retargeting is a powerful tool because it recaptures the interest of your potential customers and helps increase conversions.

Ad Retargeting: Your Online Salesperson

A lot of consumers turn to online shopping as an alternative to making in-store purchases. Whether it’s because going to the store is inconvenient or time-consuming, online retailers have been seeing increasing success for years. Studies show that shoppers now make 51% of their purchases online, continuing to increase year by year.

Much of the increasing success can be accounted to your modern online salesperson: ad retargeting. Think about retargeting as a salesperson who is trying to seal the deal after you’ve left a particular site by showing products in which you’ve expressed interest.

This is a key difference between online and in-store sales. Foot-traffic stores cannot continue to sell to you once you’ve left their doors, whereas online stores can. But how?

There are two common types of ad retargeting:

  • pixel-based retargeting, and
  • list-based retargeting.

Pixel-Based Retargeting

When consumers visit a website, their browser collects cookies of information about their visit. Cookies collect what pages they viewed and in what order, among other details. Upon leaving the website, consumers’ online activities are analyzed by ad agencies to serve relevant and targeted ads to visitors in a timely manner.

Here’s how it works: One day you are online shopping on You’re looking at a specific pair of heels. An hour later, while on Facebook, you see an ad in your feed for a similar pair of heels. It’s important to note that Zappos is not serving you an ad for sneakers — as you weren’t interested in sneakers.

Pixel-based retargeting is specific to a user’s web traffic across a particular site. Because of this, pixel-based retargeting is useless for customer acquisition. If a customer has not visited the site, it is impossible to retarget pixel-based ads for them.

List-Based Retargeting

With list-based targeting, the website owner has more power in terms of who is served with what ads. List-based retargeting involves taking the contacts that a site already has in its database and giving them to a platform that is running your ad retargeting campaigns – such as Facebook or Twitter.

The social media site will match the emails the site provides with their list of users, and retarget ads accordingly. This gives the advertiser more freedom to select what ad they show and to whom they show it.

The challenge occurs when a user submits a different email address to the website than to his or her social media network. If the network can’t match the user, marketers can’t serve the ad. Similarly to pixel-based retargeting, list-based retargeting helps to serve targeted message but may be lacking for customer acquisition.

Cross-Device Retargeting

Ad retargeting is easily implementable and beneficial for sending targeted messages to current consumers and driving conversions. Agencies even have the power to run cross-device retargeting campaigns, in which they can engage with an individual consumer across multiple digital devices.

Cross-device retargeting is an efficient advertising strategy because it reaches users where they are consuming media and serves them targeted, relevant ads.

However, cross-device retargeting can be ineffective due to its inability to accurately verify individual users across various channels.

Introducing: People-Based Marketing.

It’s not pixel-based, it’s not list-based. It’s people-based.

People-based marketing is about making a user more than just a cumulation of data points. It’s about combining personally identifiable data, such as an email address, with online data from a DSP, such as online activity, as well as offline demographics, lifestyle data, user behavior data, and more.

People-based marketing is truly data-driven with a humanistic approach.

It’s taking that cumulation of data points and deterministically identifying users for who they really are, whether it’s a stay-at-home mom of three kids who loves online shoe shopping, drives a minivan, is married and graduated from Harvard, or a recent high school graduate who waitresses, played three varsity sports in high school, made honor roll, loves animals, and is newly licensed.

People-based marketing is different because it takes data one step further than ad retargeting does. Rather than expending times and money to serve ads across every device consumers use, people-based marketing provides the accuracy of targeting them where they are most likely to engage with and respond to media.

By serving consumers media where and when they would like to engage, people-based marketing has the power to provide the ultimate customer experience. Media is no longer a nuisance but is rather welcomed with a people-based marketing strategy because the reach is personalized, relevant and relatable. Individualized media plans are served on the consumer’s terms.

Get On Board

Though ad retargeting is an effective marketing strategy, people-based marketing is a quickly emerging industry trend. Contact Bridge to get on board with people-based marketing before the trend becomes the new normal.

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