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The Process and Performance of Ad Retargeting, and Why You Should be Using it

  • By Sergei Kosiachenko
  • December 12, 2019
  • Comment
The Process and Performance of Ad Retargeting, and Why You Should be Using it

Nobody takes rejection well, especially when there’s money on the line. Lost conversions can be a nuisance, and no website wants to lose prospective customers. However, retargeting – or remarketing as it’s sometimes known – can be a great way to potentially engage with visitors, and get them to return to your pages.

Retargeting refers to a specific form of online advertising that’s fine-tuned to target visitors who have navigated away from the website in question at a certain point. This method of marketing relies on cookies to help to learn about their visitors and their behavior on site

But just how successful is retargeting, really? In this post, we’ll put retargeting under the microscope and look at the metrics that make this particular form of marketing tick.

Retargeting in a nutshell

As noted, retargeting is a cookie-powered form of tracking which enables a javascript code to non-invasively, and anonymously, ‘follow’ your targeted audience across the internet.

Website owners embed a small segment of code within their website – commonly referred to as a pixel. Whenever a visitor arrives onto one of your pages, this pixel will leave an anonymous cookie that will be stored in their respective browsers. From here on in, whenever your cookied visitor browses the internet, the code will carefully position relevant adverts to pique the interest of your former visitors.

Single Grain

These ads will only run if the code determines that they’ve previously visited your website. This is significant, as a visitor will evidently have shown some form of interest in your products or services – or at least enough interest to warrant navigating onto one of your pages. This clear sign of interest means that a retarget could be enough to motivate them into returning to make a conversion.

This makes retargeting one of the more effective forms of marketing, because you’re essentially advertising to an audience that’s already familiar with your brand to some degree, and therefore more likely to proceed with a purchase.

Businesses that retarget vs businesses that don’t

Some businesses may see retargeting as a little too intrusive to be practical, but their concerns needn’t be so pertinent. CMO has found that 25% of consumers actually enjoy seeing retargeted adverts.

And while this figure seems relatively low, having a quarter of your prospective customer base react favorably to seeing your products and services advertised to them a second or third time around can make all the difference to your profit margins. Furthermore, 60% of respondents remained neutral to the idea of seeing retargeted advertisements.

The appeal that retargeting holds here is that it can unintrusively remind audiences of the products that they recently visited – prospectively jogging their memory.


In addition to this, marketing website ClickZ has found that retargeting through the use of social networks can bring significant performance boosts for eCommerce websites.

In the chart above, we can see that cross-device retargeting campaigns launched on Facebook can bring businesses based in Europe and Japan double the level of impressions, while click-through rates (CTR) typically improve by at least 52% across the board.

When it comes to retargeted adverts, companies which embrace retargeting can generally expect to see 10x the CTR of your typical online ads.

Browsers who see retargeted adverts are also 70% more likely to convert on a website than those who don’t – meaning that retargeting performs 10x better than your run-of-the-mill display banners.

However, for all its significant boosts in CTR and subsequent conversions, it’s worth noting that retargeted search ads come at a higher price than traditional banners.

Due to the level of technology on show, and the better success rates involved, retargeted ads are typically more expensive than their display-based counterparts. Of course, in highly competitive industries, these higher costs can be a price worth paying to keep ahead of your rivals, but search ad clicks can run up costs quick. However, this isn’t necessarily the case with social retargeting, which could cost significantly less for website owners.

Key statistics

Customers are 70% more likely to convert when retargeted with display adverts, according to Software Advice.

Users like to browse multiple websites and take on a range of opinions before deciding on which brand to buy. With the help of some strategically placed adverts, you can delicately push them towards favoring your brand – and statistically well-positioned, retargeted ads make conversions 70% more likely among prospective customers.

Convince & Convert

It’s important to know your limits with retargeting. Although this chart from Convince & Convert has colored its bar charts in a way that’s a little too persuasive, there’s plenty of good advice that can be found in the metrics on show. Namely that it’s important not to spam your targets.

In fact, the statistics show that retargeting prospective customers over 10x in relatively quick succession will have a damaging effect on your brand – with nearly a third of visitors reporting an ‘angry’ reaction to seeing relentless retargeting.

Naturally, many audiences see all forms of ads as an annoyance, so it’s unsurprising to see some adverse metrics here – but consider too that the majority of respondents found one-to-three ads more ‘helpful’, ‘relevant’, ‘clever’, ‘surprising’ and, by a small margin, ‘motivating’.

And while the chart above shows that high numbers of respondents find retargeted ads as more intrusive, Pew Research Center reports that as many as 47% of consumers are willing to accept tracking tools like cookies if it helps them to gain a better deal online. This number is significantly larger than users who say that this perceived lack of security is unacceptable (32%).

This indicates that the security threats that many consumers are reportedly fearful of are somewhat over-exaggerated. If there’s a tangible benefit on show, then the majority of consumers would accept cookies from websites.

Retargeting tools

There are plenty of retargeting tools out there, and for many, Google Ads Retargeting is a great solution.

Naturally, anything with Google Ads capabilities is going to be strong when it comes to marketing online, but there are some excellent alternatives too that weigh into the reckoning with competitive rates.


One relatively new kid on the block is Finteza. The tool offers the ability to display optimized ads to consumers who have already visited your site and performed any kind of action.

AdRoll is another retargeting tool that enables businesses to turn visitors into customers by setting up laser-focused remarketing campaigns.

Another potential dream retargeting site for eCommerce stores comes in the form of Shopify ReTarget. If you’re already familiar with Shopify, then this could be ideal for your business – ReTarget enables users to tap into their Google marketing campaigns and offer up dynamic ads, all while operating at a budget that suits their individual needs.

The world of retargeting is big business for websites that have products and services to sell, so there are thousands of companies out there that will promise to help you in drawing in conversions.

But remember to do your homework. You never know, perhaps a well-crafted, retargeted ad will help you to make your mind up?

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