3 Questions to Ask Before Starting a Retargeting Campaign

Ben Bradley

Director of Strategic Accounts - Client Consulting

retargetingRetargeting is obviously very popular, spend 5 min on Facebook and you are likely to see proof of this. If you prefer more quantitative data, according to AdRoll the number of marketers spending on re-targeting from 2013 to 2014 increased from 34% to 71%. Knowing that AdRoll as a data source for re-targeting growth is biased, you can also see the popularity in Google Trends on the keyword “retargeting”:


With the massive growth and popularity of these services, it’s important to make sure that you are asking the right questions before executing on this tactic. Here are 3 questions you need to ask to prevent being swept up in the hype!

#1 – What data powers this?

retargeting data sources

Before we can talk about data, we need to all have an equal understanding of the definition of data. There are several types of data available:

  • 1st party data – Data collected through a direct relationship. As well said by DigiDay here, this means there are 2 types of 1st party data in the advertising world:
    • “An advertiser’s first-party data might include things like customers’ email addresses, purchase histories and behaviors demonstrated across its site”
    • “publisher’s first-party data usually comprises behavioral information collected from around its properties”
      • This is also commonly referred to as 2nd party data.
  • 3rd Party data – Data collected from outside sources. For a deeper explanation see this AdAge article.

It is well understood that 1st party data is the optimal source to use. 1st part data provides context – injects the “what” into the targeting, while 3rd party data is more the “who” and goes after audience demographics.

  • 3rd party is often diluted and is less useful without context.

Many of the retargeting services available today will use your (advertiser) 1st party data.

Ask if they have other data they can supplement this service with? Do they pull in 3rd Party data (ehhh…okay) do they pull in publisher 1st party data (better!).

#2 – Ask if you can identify and retarget people based on attributes outside of your site

If every potential prospect visited your site often and early, marketing would be a lot easier. Fact of the matter is many contacts won’t visit your site, and many will only do so after they have already framed a problem and potential solution out. So the idea that most retargeting services are based on visitors to your SITE, is inherently going to miss a lot. Ask if you can identify and retarget people based on attributes outside of your site visitors such as:

  • Contacts that have seen your banners on a publisher network
  • Contacts that have downloaded content from a channel other than your site
  • Contacts that are actively engaging with your competitors
  • Contacts who based on behavior data have a higher propensity to buy

retargeting attributes

This is so important because understanding a user’s point of origin is paramount. How the user is qualified should include the combination of 1st party publisher data. What did they read, did they click on a banner/watch a video? Isolating that trigger that defines the user as “eligible” for retargeting improves the CTA and performance. The more specific we can get the better result we will see.

#3 – What type of pages do I WANT to be on?

retargeting mindset

Most throw out data about how many millions of pages they can cover, like Facebook. Ask yourself, what type of pages do I WANT to be on? Being contextually relevant is the king of display. Contextual alignment is still crucial because it is indicative of the user’s mindset. When retargeting, you have to make sure you target the user while they’re only a degree or two away from that type of relevance otherwise you will see huge drop off. For Technology Marketers, make sure your avoiding sites like Facebook, and looking for alignment on sites where there is a strong contextual alignment to IT buying.

Re-targeting is a great concept, and one I would recommend for most marketers consider. That said, before you start (of if you already have something live) make sure you ask these questions to get the most out of your efforts! Good luck.


Retargeting image via Shutterstock

1st party data, data sources, marketing intelligence, retargeting

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