Retargeting: what is it and why do I need it?

We’ve all been there. You search for flights for your next vacation to Hawaii and then curiously start seeing ads for flights and hotels in Hawaii. “Blow me down with a feather!” you say. “How did they know I was looking for flights?!” You start to see more ads that are relevant to the searches you’ve made in Google as well as the websites you’ve been visiting. Eventually, you see a GREAT offer from an ad and end up buying your ticket through that company. This process, my friends, is no coincidence – it’s the retargeting!

What is retargeting?

Re-targeting is the process of serving relevant ads to people who have visited a website. Only 2% of people who visit a website convert on their first visit. Re-targeting helps bring back the other 98%.

How does retargeting work?

Cookies! Cookies are the thing that makes it possible for websites to retarget you with ads. You might have noticed how websites now ask you to ‘accept cookies’ when you reach their website. If you choose to decline what’s called a ‘cookie drop’ you won’t see as many retargeted ads.

Every browser (that’s your Google, your Internet Explorer or your Firefox) has a unique cookie ID. When you visit a website your unique cookie ID is dropped on that page and you are put into a little retargeting bucket.

Next, advertisers take that bucket and serve you ads. They know you’ve visited, they saw what pages you looked at, and therefore know what you’re interested in. Based on your behaviour on the website (i.e what pages you consumed or what searches you made) the advertiser will send you ads relevant to your behaviour. If you were looking for flights to Bali, you’ll see ads for flights to Bali. If you were searching for a pair of shoes, you’ll see an ad for a pair of shoes. Retargeting ads are relevant and hyper-targeted to your online behaviour.

Benefits of accepting cookies

A couple years back, you didn’t have the option to decline a cookie drop. But as of 2012, website owners have to ask permission to take people’s cookie IDs. 

“The EU e-Privacy Directive, otherwise known as the EU Cookie Law, originally came into place on the 26th of May 2012 and means you, as the site owner/administrator, have to get your visitors’ informed consent before placing a cookie (probably related to social media elements or login/tracking systems) on their machine.” Source

Some people find ads annoying, but some people find them really helpful during their customer journey. For me, it depends on the ad. If the advertiser is showing me an ad that is highly relevant to my purchase journey – I’m all for it! If not, it will only annoy me. 

Tip! Always always always make your ads highly relevant. Think about who you are talking to and what their needs are. Make it beautiful so it stands out amongst the millions of other ads on the internet.

I’m so glad I finally know how that works! I want in! How do I retarget visitors on my website?

You’ll need a pixel!

In order for retargeting to work, your website needs something called a pixel. A pixel is a little snippet of code that you place on your website. The code allows you to capture people’s cookie IDs so you can retarget them after their visit to your website. 
There are several platforms you can use to create your retargeting pixel. Google AdWords Remarketing, Adroll and ReTargeter for example. However, there is one pixel that we’ve found to work a charm. It’s the Facebook retargeting pixel. Follow the steps from Facebook to create your own pixel and start retargeting website visitors today!

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