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Retargeting - it's time to get personal with your customers

Attention spans are shrinking. As millions of websites soon become billions, it becomes more and more difficult to hold the interests of online shoppers. Increasing competition has resulted in consumers visiting multiple sites before purchasing, not because the initial product was inferior, but because the options are abundant and locating additional information is easy.

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While the ecommerce environment has evolved considerably over the last ten years, the "lost prospect" problem remains a key concern.  A study by Criteo* found that retargeting these potential customers after they leave your site, makes them 70 per cent more likely to return to complete a sale than their non-retargeted counterparts.  And by incorporating additional product recommendations, these same retargeted visitors spend, on average, 50 percent more than non-retargeted consumers.

It’s not the Who but the What

While basic targeting of the "who" has been around for a long time, personalisation – or the "what" – is ground-breaking.  The ability to show a product banner for a specific hotel in Barcelona, with today’s price and availability, means this is not an ad, but a piece of content as relevant as anything else on the page.  Deliver this in a trusted publisher environment and both click rates (CTR) and conversion rates will accelerate.  At Criteo, clients achieve CTRs 4-6 times higher than standard display ads, and their conversion outperforms current standards with some clients doubling their own site conversion rates.

Not all Retargeting is the same

In its infancy, retargeting - also called remarketing - was fairly basic: a user would visit a site, leave, and then would be exposed to a generic branded display ad from the abandoned site.  This was followed by segmented retargeting which creates a number of display banner executions for specific segments of the site that consumers have visited.    

With the latest technological advances, retargeting can now show your potential customers a unique ad for the exact shoe or TV or holiday they were searching for.  Each ad is created for the individual visitor on-the-fly, with the placement, creative and products displayed chosen by the retargeting algorithm to achieve the highest CTR and conversion-to-sale which means the visitor only gets shown ads which are relevant and which they are likely to interact with.  Criteo’s personalised retargeting also includes recommended products in the ads which are based on the consumer’s browsing behaviour as well as the behaviour of similar consumers.  This up-selling and cross-selling is proven to further increase the original order value. 

Cost effective and engaging brand marketing...that delivers sales

Retargeting technology enables advertisers to spend less time and money on creative design and execution, by taking the guess work out of predicting customer intent.  Intelligent computational modelling enables in real-time the most effective creative template, products and messaging as well as placement to deliver conversions.   For example, the same user may respond differently to the same combination of products depending on whether the ad appeared on a news website or email provider as well as depending on whether it was an mpu embedded in an article or skyscraper on a search results page.  Data is gathered in real-time and delivery is optimised for each individual.

The sophistication of retargeting technology means a travel website which proposes the right hotel offers to someone who just bought a flight ticket to New York and then, later on, displays Broadway show tickets can stay close to the user throughout the entire holiday planning process.

What you should look for in a retargeting provider

Reach is likely the most important factor.  Retargeting should be executed across a network that has the size and diversity of websites to reach consumers virtually anywhere. The broader the reach, the more visitors the campaign will turn into customers at the right moment in the buying process.  This can be critical if the advertiser’s products and/or services have a short window of opportunity such as a weekend sale.  

Another key consideration is how much flexibility the provider has in both creative and campaign management.  The retargeting company should be able to customise the creative based on an individual consumer’s on and off-site activity, creating banners on-the-fly based on as much data available to drive the highest CTR and conversion rate.  This is a key area to ensure that the creative maintains the same look and feel as an advertiser’s other activity with the added benefit of personalisation.  Criteo have gone as far as to offer the tools to advertisers and agencies to build personalised banners themselves for their retargeting campaigns.

The second area of flexibility relates to campaign control.  Are there tools to enable the advertiser to manage and optimise their own campaign?  Is there control over bid management in real-time?  Criteo enables advertisers to vary their cost-per-click (CPC) bidding by category, allowing an advertiser to customise product categories and set CPCs based on category margin and profit goals.  This translates into the ad creative where different products displayed in the same banner can have different CPCs depending on their category.

It is also critical to ensure that technological advances fully take into consideration consumers' privacy.  Retargeting providers do not collect personally identifiable information.  The data gathered is completely anonymous and is used for statistical purposes only, and there is no way to identify a specific internet user.  No data is shared with advertisers or publishers and no third-party data is used for targeting purposes.  Providers use anonymous product browsing data in order to create ads that are most relevant to each unique consumer.  The best providers are transparent about their privacy policies and give clear, simple instructions to consumers on how to opt out of future retargeting, if they so prefer.  Criteo was the first retargeting company to proactively make this information available to consumers by establishing an "i" icon in every banner they serve.

As technology enables more consumers to experience a more personal web and content experience, there is no reason why that expectation won’t be applied to advertising.  The ability to offer relevant and timely messages that complement consumers’ content/browsing experiences will become increasingly important.  Responsible use of anonymised data will be a critical part of that.

In the universe of behavioural marketing strategies, retargeting is a great way to cost efficiently capitalise on each and every site visitor.  Search marketing, generic display ads and offline efforts will do some of the work, while retargeting will finish the job - converting browsers into buyers, buyers into repeat buyers and repeat buyers into life-long, loyal customers.  In today’s ecommerce environment, bringing ready-to-buy visitors back after they have left an advertiser’s site should be a key part of any customer acquisition and conversion strategy.  

* AB split tests of 5 multi-channel retailers conducted in April - June 2010

About Criteo

Criteo is the global leader in scalable personalised retargeting. 

Criteo enables e-commerce companies to re-engage with website visitors who have left their site via highly relevant personalised display ads.  These ads are dynamically generated in real-time with product recommendations based on the visitor’s browsing history leveraging Criteo’s proprietary real-time media buying and dynamic creative optimisation technologies.  Criteo displays billions of uniquely personalised banners each month and works with more than 1000 of the top worldwide e-commerce companies.

+44 (0) 203 170 5948
48-54 Charlotte Street, London W1T 2NS

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