Retargeting, Remarketing & Remessaging: Reconnecting With The Ones That Got Away

This weekend I used the old Internet machine to drool over a pair of Jeffrey Campbell boots that I can by no reasonable means afford. And now, thanks to retargeting, the Internet won’t let me forget this Saturday morning foray into expensive footwear. First they appeared in the sidebar on Slate, then VentureBeat, and now they’re staring at me from the righthand column of Facebook.

In the marketing world, we call this virtual product tailing retargeting. Let’s take a look at retargeting and its siblings, remarketing and remessaging.

What is Retargeting?

Retargeting is the generic term for targeting users according to their previous online behavior. Add a quick line of code to your site, and you’re all set to serve related display ads to visitors once they leave the gates of your web property.

Maybe you want to target visitors in general. Maybe you want to target those who put an item in their shopping cart and then navigated away without purchasing. Maybe you’re looking to target those who started filling out a form and then got distracted. Retrageting is all about reconnecting with visitors who did not make it as far into the funnel as you had hoped – whatever your sales funnel may look like.

What is Remarketing?

Remarketing is simply Google’s branded version of the term, and refers to showing visitors relevant ads on other sites in the Google Display Network.

What is Remessaging?

Bing also wanted to jump on the branded term bandwagon, so they refer to their retargeting service as “remessaging.

What is Social Retargeting?

Retargeting also exists in the social media world. Rolled out in the summer of 2012, Facebook Exchange targets users by tracking cookies. Partner sites then use those cookies to identify Facebook members and drop a related ad into your Facebook sidebar.

Retargeting: The Bottom Line

Retargeted users are valuable because by visiting your site, they have raised a virtual hand to say “hey, I may be interested in what you’re offering.”

Success with retargeting depends on the product, the user and the execution of the campaign. Remember there’s such a thing as overdoing retargeting, and that web users are easily annoyed. An ad that follows a visitor all day everyday because of one simple search could end up doing more harm than good for your brand.

In the end, the answer to whether or not retargeting works for you and your products all comes down to testing.