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What is Retargeting and Why are These Ads Following Me Around the Internet?

By February 17, 2014May 13th, 2019Uncategorized

For most websites, only 2% of web traffic converts on the first visit. Retargeting, also known as remarketing, is a tool designed to help companies reach the 98% of users who don’t convert right away.

How does retargeting work?

Retargeting is a cookie-based technology that uses simple a Javascript code to anonymously ‘follow’ you all over the Web.

Here’s how it works: advertisers who employ retargeting place a small, unobtrusive piece of code on their website. When you visit that website, the code places a cookie in your browser. Then, as you browse the Web, the cookie will tell pages that serve ads to show you ads for the brand you were looking at. This is often helpful if you’re searching for something that you are considering purchasing, as it shows you the product you are considering on many different pages.

For example, I recently purchased a Samsung Chromebook. In the process of doing so, I compared the Samsung model to the HP model. Now I see ads for Chromebooks from both brands “everywhere” as I surf, especially on news websites. In this manner, retargeting is effective because it serves Chromebooks ads only to people who are interested in that brand or product and have previously visited a site that sells Chromebooks.

Retargeting can work well with inbound marketing. Using content marketing and other inbound techniques to drive traffic and AdWords/retargeting to increase conversions can make sense. However, remarketing can also bee seen as annoying, so be sure to test this strategy before deploying it widely.

How Google Adwords determines when to show you ads

Google may show you ads based on many factors, including:

  • Types of websites you visit and mobile apps you have on your device
  • The DoubleClick cookie on your browser and the settings in your Ads Settings
  • Websites and apps you’ve visited that belong to businesses that advertise with Google
  • Previous interactions with Google’s ads or advertising services
  • Your Google or YouTube profile

Google ads don’t do the following:

  • Link your name or personally identifiable information to your DoubleClick cookie without your consent
  • Associate your DoubleClick cookie with sensitive topics like race, religion, sexual orientation, or health without your consent.

How you can manage the ads you see

You can manage your ads from Google with web-based tools and controls. Below are a few of the tools developed by Google to help you do so:

Tools & Resources What it is
Ads Settings A Google tool that lets you opt out of Google’s interest-based ads or edit the interests and demographics associated with your browser.
Security and privacy tools Google’s browser controls, plug-ins, and product features designed to help you protect your privacy. Choose from over a dozen.
Privacy policy Google’s worldwide privacy policy.

Retargeting as a web visitor and as an advertiser

I couldn’t find much information about web viewers’ response to retargeting, probably because this practice is still so new. I got tired of the incessant Chromebook ads, so I used the Google tools above to “turn off” the ability for Google Adwords advertisers to “follow me.” And I dumped my cookies 🙂

As a marketer, I think retargeting has a place right alongside PPC and should be considered with any PPC campaigns that you run. As with any new technology, be sure to set up proper tracking so you can determine if retargeting actually works for your campaigns or not.

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Larry Levenson

Larry is passionate about inbound marketing and is a HubSpot Certified Trainer. He's learned the "secrets" of leveraging HubSpot to make marketing hyper-effective and customizes that information to help our clients meet their goals. Larry lives in Prescott, AZ, and when not at work, he is hiking or hanging out with teenagers as a volunteer with Boys to Men USA.