This column was written by Premal Shah, VP, Strategy at Chango, a real-time marketing technology company with an advanced platform and full-service solutions for brands and agencies. Premal is responsible for leading best practices and partnership strategies across all media solutions and the Programmatic Marketing Platform (PMP).
When most people hear the word “retargeting,” they tend to think of Site Retargeting, the practice of serving display ads to users who visit your site but fail to convert. Generally, with Site Retargeting, the advertiser relies on basic data gathered from a user’s visit to a site. For example, if you look at a particular pair of shoes on Zappos.com, you might later see a display ad from Zappos.
But now, retargeting based on page views is just the beginning. A more sophisticated form of site retargeting, known as Programmatic Site Retargeting (PSR), allows brands and retailers to retarget based on a wide variety of additional data points, from time on site, to the items in a user’s cart, pre-visit search engine data, referral data, post-visit browsing data and so on. However, the use of data doesn’t have to end there…and shouldn’t.
Many companies are sitting on valuable CRM data without realizing they could be using it to make their display campaigns more powerful. Why not use CRM data to retarget existing customers for up-sell or cross-sell purposes? If you have email lists, online surveys, or online sign-ups for loyalty programs, you have an opportunity to serve display ads to users who have demonstrated a clear interest in your products or services.
Still, as important as it is to have all of that first party data, when looking to acquire new customers, it may not be the best place to start. With Search Retargeting, for example, it becomes possible to target users based on the terms they search for on Google, Yahoo!, Bing, and other search engines. If you’re a T-shirt retailer, for example, you could use Search Retargeting to serve display ads to anyone who recently searched for “funny shirts.” You can then lean into your top converter attributes and use look-alike targeting. With look-alike targeting, for example, you could review the search terms, or other attributes, that led to the most conversions on your site and target others who have demonstrated similar characteristics, who may be just as likely to convert.
Up to this point, we’ve been talking about online data. But, to the surprise of many, you can now also target online display ads based on offline data. Let’s say you go shopping at the supermarket and use your their loyalty card to get a better price. There’s a reason the store is working so hard to get you to use their card. It also allows the store to collect valuable data. Traditionally, this data has been used in offline targeting — coupons, direct mail, etc. But a new breed of companies now make it possible to use this offline data online as well. To pull off this neat trick, companies need to anonymously find and match these offline users online, as they may not have recently visited your site. With so many sites now gathering first and last names along with addresses, it’s possible to make matches and target these users online. Even Facebook, Google, and Yahoo! are now working with these offline data companies for better online targeting.
For larger companies, with multiple brands, different divisions or business units, the key to making the most of their data is in thinking creatively. They are often sitting on a lot of data, possibly spread across different brands and systems, which may lead to better targeting for another brand. To take a simple example, customers who purchased athletic gear at Gap or Old Navy could be targeted as new customers for Piperlime or Athleta. Of course, both marketing and technology teams have to work together to make this happen, and need to embrace the significant benefits from this.
And then there are the brands that have separate commerce and content sites. American Express, to cite one example, has OPEN Forum in addition to all of its commerce properties. In many cases, brands look to these content sites to generate brand awareness or direct referrals to the commerce site. But the various ways that users interact with the content on content sites could also be valuable data for retargeting, even if there are no products involved.
Retargeting a high intent user, someone who possibly came in through search, may be a wise tactic to drive new customers and revenue to another business unit.
The point is that we’re living in the age of data, an age when you don’t have to waste money targeting whole segments because you can target individuals. It’s important to embrace the various forms of data your organization has, and to use it to efficiently achieve your goals.
Once you move beyond first party data, the key, of course, is in finding the partners with the right technology, transparency, and people to help you succeed. And you should find those partners sooner rather than later. After all, the data is out there, just waiting for you to put it to work.