A Retargeting Plea – End Audience Annoyance

This is a guest post from Aaron Levy, Director of PPC at SEER Interactive.

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I like to take a more holistic look at digital marketing, thinking of it from both a traditional marketing point of view, and from a user’s point of view. After all, we trying to reach honest-to-goodness human beings. Robert’s late January post on the Dark Side of Re-marketing really got me thinking. Retargeting (the broader tactic) is, at its core, terrifyingly creepy. Follow someone around until they do what you want. When they do what you want, follow them again in 3 months so they do it again.

From a traditional/face to face point of view, the incessant style of retargeting reminds me a ton of the Animaniacs’ Survey Ladies; really any sample people in the mall food court would suffice for this example. Effective? Sure. Good marketing & branding? No way. Annoying? Absolutely. So why are we doing it to our digital audiences?

Without further ado, let’s explore 3 things to stop and start doing with your retargeting campaigns to end audience annoyance.

Stop: Repeating Yourself

One of the more common strategies for retargeting campaigns is to simply start with the best performing text ads from search, or best image ads from display campaigns. The inherent problem with this strategy is that users have already seen these ads. They’ve already been exposed to the same value propositions, they’ve already been to your site and already read what you had to offer.

Start: Making Retargeting-Specific Creative

Give ads with value propositions a user may not have already been exposed to. Tell them something they don’t know. Try something crafty – for some time the Moz team ran ads with Rand’s recognizable bearded face, a clever way to extend the brand experience. It may be a bit of a strain on the creative team, but it’s worth it.

Stop: Harassing Window Shoppers

How often have (you as a consumer) opened a tab just to see what a site was and quickly bailed out after seeing it wasn’t what you wanted? How often do you (as an advertiser) follow those people around and treat them like more in depth browsers? Stoppit!

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Start: Segmenting Audiences Based on Engagement

Create a list for site bouncers & irrelevant/junk pages using either re-marketing for Analytics or creative tagging solutions. Target them separately with softer messaging or better yet, don’t target them at all.

Stop: Following people everywhere

The image (below/right/above) is a screenshot of Cookie Clicker. Fab has a retargeting ads are present that’s exclusively designed for users to fervently click everywhere… probably not going to yield very relevant traffic?

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The old adage of retargeting is to follow your audience wherever they go. The Aaron adage is hey, it may be your audience but selling they don’t want to be sold to will only yield wasted spend and a damaged brand.

Start: Layering Your Audiences

Audience layering is a tactic that can (and should) be used across all display campaigns, but can be especially effective for Retargeting. Add negative topics to alleviate some of the junk. I suggest at least games, jobs and communities to start, but really any topic that’s wildly irrelevant to your brand should probably be excluded.
To further improve relevance, think about layering your retargeting audiences on top of placements or topics and increase bids accordingly. Create context with your retargeting efforts by showing ads to your audience as they’re thinking about your product, rather than simply blanketing them with everything.

Aaron Levy HeadshotIn his career, Aaron has run the gambit of clients; he’s worked on fortune 500 juggernauts and large circus brands as well as small a regional spas and local adoption agencies. He currently oversees the PPC team at SEER Interactive, working to ensure to ensure the team has everything they need to drive for SEER’s PPC clients across paid search, social and display. Aaron can be found speaking nationwide at industry events, preaching digital to college students or imbibing at your finest local beer bar.

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4 Responses to “A Retargeting Plea – End Audience Annoyance”

  1. personally i think the whole “remarketing is creepy” meme is rather over-done. for my own business, i’m finding that a 30 day membership with caps of 100 impressions per day (yes, 100) is still very effective. Show me the data.

  2. Thanks for the comment Larry! I don’t know that the “re-marketing is creepy” meme will ever die, nor that there will be any data to support it. If data were to exist, it’d likely come from brand affinity surveys, longer term revenue and customer churn instead of just from digital in isolation.

    Even if that was the case, the data STILL may disagree with my points. What can I say, I’m brand guy too

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