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‘Retargeting’ ads: trying to connect once more

‘Retargeting’ ads: trying to connect once more

Retargeting is a term that is now used more to describe a situation when someone leaves a site and later, as she surfs the Web, sees an ad (or is served an ad) for that site, according to Chad Little, chief retriever of the US-based retargeting firm FetchBack Inc. that recently launched a keyword retargeting system.

“Retargeting is one of those words that means a lot of different things at this point. It describes the technology that is used to deliver most behavioural ads (ads that target an individual based on her surfing behaviour)," Little says.

Ad networks such as Platform-A Inc., DoubleClick Inc., Collective MediaInc. and Tribal Fusion Inc. are the big firms in retargeting today, but FetchBack sits at the top of the pile and aims to make retargeting easier across multiple ad networks, says Little.

Also Read Marion Arathoon’s earlier columns

Upgraded versions of general retargeting are popping up everywhere. You read about social retargeting (using social networks), search retargeting (using search engines) and behavioural retargeting, among others. These avatars use different technologies to re-serve display or search ads, or both, to the relevant people.

This column recently discussed how behaviourally targeted advertising or retargeting is a more effective way for companies to keep in touch with customers on social networks than creating groups or pages. If someone buys a book from Amazon.com Inc. online, the ad network knows she has made a purchase and then finds her again on a new site (social networking, games, photo or video sites) and shows her an Amazon ad that says come back and buy again, says Roy de Souza, founder and chief executive of the world’s third largest ad server, Zedo Inc.

Little, however, doesn’t think that too many different variations of retargeting are emerging. Instead, there is a pressure on companies to make ads more targeted and scale the creative needed to deliver so many different ads (creative retargeting), he says.

Search retargeting is gaining ground since it allows advertisers to target and customize display ads based on a user’s keyword queries on search engines. Global digital marketing firm 24/7 Real Media Inc. recently introduced its brand of search retargeting to serve digital ads on its media network Global Web Alliance. Prasanth Mohanachandran, executive director, digital services, OgilvyOne Worldwide, India, says big firms in search retargeting include BlueLithium Inc. and Audience ScienceInc., which also offers creative and behavioural retargeting, and FetchBack. FetchBack’s new keyword retargeting offers various advantages over general retargeting. General retargeting displays a generic ad to viewers after they have left a website. For example, someone checking out product offerings at a flower retailing site might scroll down and see a couple of different products and then leave (distracted or comparison shopping).

The general retargeted ad would simply reinforce the brand of the site they visited. In contrast, keyword retargeting allows the ad to be more targeted. For example, the same person visited the website and one of the products she looked at was red roses with a glass vase. After the person leaves the site, she would see an ad for red roses with a glass vase. The edge: A “lift in performance, with clients seeing a 100% lift in conversion (purchase or order) rates versus generic retargeting," Little says.

While different forms of ad retargeting are emerging, Prashant Mehta, chief operating officer of Mumbai-based digital ad firm Komli Media Pvt. Ltd, believes it’s important to focus on strategies that give scale. He believes that search retargeting has the greatest potential as search becomes more prevalent in India. About 95% of users who click on a search-based ad do not fill in the lead form or follow the instructions mentioned once they land on the page.

Komli’s brand of search retargeting—replay targeting—hence serves display ads to retarget the same user across the Komli ad network. In Mehta’s view, replay is more targeted than the usual behavioural retargeting as it connects with individuals who have expressed explicit interest but did not convert it into a purchase at the time. Again, conversion rates improve by 50-100% across campaigns, thus lowering the effective acquisition cost for campaigns. Such replays also work well for social networking sites and allow more efficient use of investments on search and display ads, Mehta says.

Many of the new targeting models are hybrid. Mohanchandran says there is increasingly a marriage between behaviour-based retargeting or ad network data, and data for a particular product collected from the advertiser’s website. With this knowledge, marketers can serve different versions of the same ad or campaign to defined consumer profiles: those who bought and those keen to buy, among others. This is leading to a spurt in creative retargeting and optimization.

Marion Arathoon is Mint’s advertising editor. Your comments are welcome at advalue@livemint.com

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