This blog post is a a quick guide into the world of remarketing - a show and tell on how a remarketing ad works.

Remarketing – How Does It Work?

Remarketing is a brilliant way to re-engage visitors who have already expressed an interest in your brand – they visited your website! Quite simply, remarketing is a way of getting previous visitors to return to your website and (hopefully) finish what they started.

Disclaimer: After reading this quick guide on remarketing, you will be targeted by our annoying ads, ha! Unless you really are in the market for bananas supplied by Precis? In that case you’ll find our ads highly relevant.

(Pro tip: Click on one of the ads to get rid of them again).

A Very Basic Walk-Through of The Concept:

  • When a visitor is browsing through your website, the visitor ends up on a remarketing list.
  • The visitor eventually leaves your website to browse other parts of the world wide web. It could be to compare prices, religiously check Facebook, or watch a video on YouTube.
  • Once the visitor is on your remarketing list, you can present them with relevant ads including offers on the products or services that he or she has shown an interest in.

Tailored And Targeted Communication

It’s very important to tailor your communication. In this case it’s the messaging in your remarketing banners. We’ve seen way too many instances where marketers use the very same banners for awareness increasing display campaigns and their highly targeted remarketing campaigns. Let’s make it more interesting and engaging for everyone! We guarantee that the performance will be better as a result.

If a user looked at a certain section of your site, you should be communicating about this topic specifically. If a user has looked at different products (without buying them), you can leverage dynamic remarketing and show the user exactly these products. This is great for e.g. ecommerce and travel sites. If the user has shown signs of being close to doing what the marketer wants i.e. being close to converting, you should include stronger and clearer call-to-actions in your messaging. The whole point is that we know a lot about these users based on the actions they have performed on the website. We need to leverage this information to persuade the users to come back and finish what they started.

In our case, we’re monkeying around and you’ll be going remarketing-bananas in no time!

Digging Slightly Deeper – Cookies, Browsers, and Scripts

So how does this actually work? Is Google sending everyone’s data with express mail to all kinds of third parties, labelling it “Important Info About Jane Doe For Sale”? No, luckily not. That isn’t how it works.

What happens is that a cookie is placed in the user’s browser. This happens after the user has performed a pre-defined action on the website. This could be simply visiting the website, looking at certain products, putting products in the shopping basket without purchasing them or completing any type of goal that has been defined in Google Analytics. The possibilities are quite frankly endless. It’s up to the marketer to think about which actions that makes sense and, hence, decide which kind of remarketing lists that should be created in order to reel those potential customers back in. In this case, we don’t want you to forget this valuable lesson, which is why Precis will be stalking you for a bit.

We already established that a cookie is placed in the user’s browser. This means that the ads will go wherever the user goes. As a marketer you don’t have to think about other targeting methods. Not to begin with at least. The user has already engaged with your brand and performed one or more actions as mentioned above. Your ads can be shown on any kind of website, app, or video – what is collectively known as “placements”. Whichever specific content a certain placement has is of less importance as long as it doesn’t create problems for your brand. If a user is deliberately going to certain websites, the websites should have content that is relevant for that specific user. At the beginning, we don’t recommend to narrow the targeting further.

A clear disadvantage is, however, that the ads only follow the user while he or she is using that specific browser (Chrome, Firefox, Safari, etc.). The remarketing ads will not follow the user across browsers and therefore not across devices either. Not unless you’re more advanced and have implemented User-IDs for cross-device tracking, but let’s save that talk for later. If the user chooses to clear the browser’s cache and cookies, the marketer also looses track of the user and the stalking abruptly comes to an end.

This whole ordeal is controlled and triggered via one or more scripts, also sometimes referred to as “pixels”. This can be in the form of a Google AdWords remarketing script (dynamic or not), a Google Analytics script that has been updated to support this feature, or a Facebook pixel etc. The choice of remarketing script has to do with how far and wide you want to stalk the user as well as with how sophisticated the actions performed on the website should be. Precis highly recommends to implement any of these types of scripts via our favourite tag management solution, Google Tag Manager. This makes it easy and convenient to keep track of the different scripts (no pun intended) and remove redundant ones.

Remarketing vs Retargeting & Increased Reach

Remarketing is actually Google’s term for the marketing discipline / targeting method that is generally known as retargeting. This has resulted in a lot of confusion, which is very understandable. As more people in the Nordics are looking for information about remarketing than for retargeting, we decided to use the former in this blog post.

You can leverage Google’s Display Network to reach your target audience across a very wide variety of websites, apps and videos – literally millions of placements. All of the available placements are collaboratively known as “inventory”. If you want to increase your reach and stalk your visitors across even more inventory, Precis recommends leveraging DoubleClick (DBM). With DoubleClick you can remarket/retarget across a variety of other networks than only Google’s Display Network, including some of the biggest networks in the Nordics such as Rubicon, AppNexus, and – let’s not forget – Facebook Exchange to get those tailored and targeted ads shown right in the user’s own Facebook News Feed and on Instagram.

We hope you enjoyed this article. Let’s be a lot smarter when it comes to targeting users who have visited our websites. Gone are the days of undifferentiated communication and – please – no more remarketing ads showing products I already bought!

Christopher Brixen & Trine Palm