The conversation is going to focus heavily on display advertising and one of its subcategories: Remarketing.
Think about the last time you sought to learn about tools like remarketing. What was your state of mind afterwards? I’ll bet you were a little confused (at least at first), since so many digital learnings rely on industry jargon or assume a high level of previous digital knowledge.
To be clear, remarketing is simply a method for showing ads to people who have previously visited your site as they browse the web. I’ll show you a (real life) example of how this form of advertising can make for a compelling customer experience in just a moment.
What Oatmeal, Comics and Microphones Can Teach Us About Effective Ads
This afternoon I checked my Facebook news feed and discovered a new comic featured on my favorite website, called The Oatmeal. Instead of trying to read it via the news feed, I clicked the link to see it on The Oatmeal’s website. Here’s the headline that caught my attention:
Not exactly a polite or politically correct comic, but it cracks me up. I’m such a die-hard fan that I check for other new comics I may have missed at the bottom of each post, which looks like this:
Notice the advertisement (red highlight mine) on the left hand side of the page?
Since The Oatmeal sells ad space via the Google Display Network (GDN), I was served an advertisement highlighting a microphone and preamp I browsed two hours earlier on Amazon.com.
This display ad had significant stopping power for me. Here’s why:
- Time — I’d invested 10 minutes searching podcasting equipment earlier in the day, so the ad was incredibly relevant at the moment I viewed it.
- Reassessment — Amazon wasn’t the primary merchant I visited in my search for gear (that award goes to B&H Photo), but they were the only company to remind me about the mic I could be ordering soon, so they win the battle of ‘last man standing’.
- Path to Purchase — I didn’t buy the mic, so the ad failed, right? No way! Amazon’s ad made me replay the podcasting decision in my head and displaced B&H Photo as my go-to shopping destination (Besides, display ads are about growing awareness — Pay-Per-Click ads should tackle me again when I’m “in-market” and perform a Google search).
The title of this post references the word ‘affinity’. That’s because I have great affinity for The Oatmeal, which was then transferred (at least to a small degree) to Amazon.com when I viewed their ad on my favorite website. The same is true for an ad featuring something relevant, based on previous website visits, that I notice along my daily browsing sessions.
In other words, if I come across an ad for the Nike’s I looked at last week on ESPN.com later in the day, that ad will have stopping power too.
Warning: Not All Remarketing is Created Equal
A good web designer will tell you they dedicate lots of effort to building a site that looks simple and effortless to use.
The same is true for remarketing ads. You’ll need to invest time and attention matching the products you sell — and pages those products live on — with the correct advertisements. For example, Amazon.com has millions of products for sale. If they serve me an ad for an iPad instead of the microphone that I viewed on their site, that’s not as relevant to my specific experience with the brand.
Let’s reiterate the point of remarketing: To show users who have previously visited our website an ad displaying the products or services they showed interest in.
Now, what if I were to visit the website for a BMW dealership? Let’s say this dealer has multiple stores, including Honda and Acura locations. If I don’t add the right code to every page of my websites, my remarketing ads will go bust.
The reason for all of this code and the effort that developers put into remarketing campaigns is simple: Making the best use of your investment. Google AdWords dollars can go pretty quick if you aren’t diligent in targeting the right user. And if you don’t target effectively, say goodbye to the social affinity we discussed above.
Finally, consider the value of ‘qualified’ viewers.
Remarketers can target people who have visited their website but not converted. That means I visit and then leave without filling out a form (or performing the specific action you define as triggering a conversion). These people get served up your ad when they browse the web.
Maybe I don’t want to keep advertising to people who already bought the microphone from Amazon.com or requested more info from their local BMW dealer, though. In this case I ensure my ads — and my ad dollars — don’t chase someone who already committed to my brand. Again, all of these goals require a hell of a lot of code, but the end result is more interested advertising audiences having the opportunity to transfer affinity to your brand, leading to eventual purchase.
If you’re interested in learning more about the GDN or display advertising in general, check out Google’s Ad Innovations.