Retargeting: The Pros and Cons

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DartBoardEverywhere I go online, I’m being bombarded by ads from a “big name coach”. It feels as if I’m being stalked.

Then I realized it…

She’s “retargeting” me. Retargeting is the newest way to increase conversions and revenue (so they say), by “following” your prospective clients from site to site (including Facebook).

Here’s a summary of how retargeting works:

1.      You visit a website that has a retargeting ad on it (you won’t know it’s there).

2.      The software attaches a cookie to your browser.

3.      The cookie shows you specific ads for that same vendor on other sites.

Retargeting ChartCourtesy of

When done well, it can be great. For example:

·         You purchase plane tickets from Boston to San Francisco from Expedia and, as your bee bopping around other travel sites, you see an ad for a car rental, hotel or “most loved restaurant” or

·         You check out a new software online then go to another site and see a white paper about how that same software is being used in your industry, then you go to another site and see an ad for a free demo of that same software.

When done poorly, it feels like stalking. For example:

·         You visit a website of a big name coach and everywhere you go online you see the same exact ad inviting you to her event. Not site-specific and complementary ads, not a white paper on the importance of attending events in your industry, but the exact same ad over and over.

·         All the examples of retargeting poorly done that I’ve seen involve the exact same advertisement and feel as if the marketer as “lazy” in terms of creating true “targeting”.

Does this mean that all retargeting is bad?

Absolutely not. . .when done well, as in the case of the plane ticket or software examples above, it’s a great tool which can help nurture and engage your prospective clients.

When done poorly however, it can really turn off those same people.

Retargeting, like social media, email marketing, podcasts, videos, direct mail, etc., is only one tool. To succeed, you want to use a variety of tools in a variety of formats and focus on engaging your readers/listeners/watchers as you build relationships.