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Illustration of a target

How to Create Effective Retargeting Ads

When people ask me what I do, my go-to response is usually “digital advertising.” If that leaves a question mark, I explain it this way:

Let’s say you’re shoe shopping, and you view a pair of shoes online. You don’t decide to purchase right away and leave the website. Then, on the next website you visit, you see an ad for that same pair of shoes right next to the article you’re reading. I’m responsible for placing that ad there.

Nine times out of 10, this description will elicit a head-nod. What I’m actually describing is known as retargeting.

The Internet Advertising Bureau (IAB) defines retargeting as “the use of a pixel tag or other code to enable a third-party to recognize particular users outside of the domain from which the activity was collected.”

More specifically, the IAB further defines site retargeting as “a method that enables advertisers to show an ad specifically to previous site visitors when they are on third-party web sites.” This is the most widely known form. The above example goes a step beyond this and into the world of dynamic retargeting, or “a customized ad that is able to transform itself upon delivery to target relevant audience segments.”

Regardless of the method, most of us know that retargeting ads work, at least to some degree. Research shows that retargeted ads average a CTR 10x higher than that of standard ads and that people who see retargeted ads are up to 70% more likely to convert.

So how should marketers approach the creation of retargeting ads? Is there a secret sauce?

Below are three pro tips we’ve discovered for creating effective retargeting ads:

1. Ad Content Matters

Tailor your ads to your retargeted audience. Because these users have already demonstrated interest in your site and/or product, the same messaging that works on a more general, potentially unaware audience may not necessarily have the same impact when used in a retargeting capacity. Try to incorporate customization and personalization into retargeting ads while also featuring a strong call to action (CTA), to prompt the user to take the next step.

2. Test and Learn

Not all retargeting ads are created alike, so be sure to A/B test different versions. Along with this, try testing retargeting from different pages of a given website to gauge ad performance across the site. For instance, does homepage retargeting lead to greater ad engagement, or does a subsection of site produce better results?

3. Advance Your Approach

As you gain a foothold in the world of retargeting, consider expanding into complementary forms of the tactic. The below approaches can run alongside standard forms retargeting or in some cases, as standalone campaign strategies.

  • Video / Audio Retargeting: If you are running video or audio campaigns, create display ads that serve to audiences who have viewed or listened to those ads to sequentially serve and reach those same audiences.
  • Abandoned Cart Retargeting: Uh, did you forget something? Abandoned cart shoppers are high-potential customers and often “wait it out” when deciding to purchase. Re-engage these audiences with targeted creative enticing them to come back and close the gap on the ~75% cart abandonment rate seen globally.
  • Native Retargeting: Expand the form and function of your standard display retargeting ads. Leverage site retargeting audiences to serve native ads that feature improved customization and allow for further A/B testing.
  • Dynamic Retargeting: The solution that tends to get the most attention, dynamic retargeting leverages complex pixel strategies to deliver ads to proactive hand-raisers. It’s an especially great tactic for e-commerce businesses with a large inventory and a large customer base.

The retargeting landscape is diverse, but hopefully this summary provides an initial framework. All of the retargeting types discussed here can be executed through Basis DSP and/or our Creative Services team.

Learn more about retargeting with Basis.