5 Key Success Factors For Ad Re-Targeting Within A Budget



It’s a natural result of online shopping and increasingly sophisticated technology.

A customer visits an online retailer, looks at specific items, but then does not make a purchase (or abandons their shopping cart).

That retailer wants to shout:

Unfortunately, the retailer cannot call out to the person or persuade them to purchase anything before they leave the store.

Enter Ad Re-Targeting

Ad retargeting social media

Re-targeting is a great way for retailers to re-connect with those “lookers”.

Retailers try to remind them about what they were considering and encourage them to have another look.

If all goes well, the customer will make that purchase.

Retailers do this by purchasing ad space on certain sites that the window shopper uses regularly (eg Yahoo, GoogleFacebook, etc.).

The concept behind re-targeting is that consumers will often visit a site a few times and look at the same item or category of items before they actually make a purchase.

Instead of hoping that the customer will re-visit their site, the retailer takes the items to the customer.

Buying the Ad Space

Big popular search engines and social media sites love this concept because they put out their ad space out for bids and it ends up making these sites a lot of money.


  • If a customer has been to Zulilly looking for clothing, then to Wayfair to look at household goods, and then that same customer goes to a major online spot like Huffington Post, they will see an ad either from Zulilly or Wayfair (depending upon who has made the highest bid for the limited ad space on Huffington Post).

It’s like an automated auction and it occurs in real-time so that the re-target ad starts popping up quickly.

Ad Frequency

Frequency of retargeting

Each site that sells these ads also evaluates the “stature” of the retailer who is placing an ad.

It’s based on:

  • The reputation of the retailer.
  • The quality of its website.
  • The possibility of the customer to interact with the ad.

The “potential for viewers to interact” is an important metric for sites like Facebook because these sites offer up a lot of high-quality PPC ad space.

These sites will thus decide on the frequency with which it will run an ad for an individual retailer based upon these “stature” assessments.

Budgeting for Re-Targeting

It is tough to draw up a set budget for re-targeting ads because there is no set price for them.

Some of the “big boys” bid really high to buy up all possible spaces, but that can run into the hundreds of thousands of dollars.

Smaller retailers will have to set parameters and limits for the bidding process.

And for these small companies, Facebook may be the best bet because of the low PPC bidding (usually between 10 cents and $1 per click).

It’s thus possible to run a small re-targeting ad campaign on Facebook for about $10 a day.

Time Frames

How long to run ad

We have all had this experience.

Some ads appear consistently, not just for a few days, or weeks, but sometimes, in excess of a year.

They may not necessarily be focused on the product we were looking at or purchased a year ago, but the retailer is still targeting us with other items.

Some re-targets only last a few months while others last much longer. This is because each platform has a set number of days that it will run ads.

  • Google and Bing re-target up to 580 days.
  • Facebook’s re-target limit is about 6 months.

As advertisers think about their re-targeting campaigns, they should also take their products into account.

Usually, companies selling major and expensive lifestyle items (like cars) should opt for longer campaigns while companies with lower price point items should opt for the shorter campaigns.

The more expensive an item is, the more time a buyer needs to make a decision.


Some consumers may wonder how ads are popping up on their search or social media pages for products that they have looked at on retailers’ websites.

Most, however, have figured out how this works.

When a customer visits retail sites, their behavior is tracked and evaluated.

Even though they do not provide any personal information, such as an email address, they can be re-contacted via the search and social media sites they use.

As a business, it is your task to conduct the tracking that gives you the information you need to re-contact users who may become paying customers.

Here are things to consider:

  • How long a customer stays on your site may determine whether they are a good candidate for re-targeting.
  • How many pages of your site a user visits should also be considered in addition to the length of time spent on those pages.
    • Example: If you sell home décor items and a user spent a long time looking at lamps, then your re-targeting for that consumer should be based upon lamps. And if that consumer dug deeper and looked at specific lamps, then you should re-target with those specific lamps.
    • If you know which specific items a customer considered, you can re-target with special discounts on those items.
  • If a consumer has made a purchase, you can re-target with “up-sells,” (ie accessories or related items that they may also find enticing).
  • You will also want to analyze what customers purchased and target them with new and related products or services.
    • In this way, your prospects are not looking at the same ad every day. Instead, they are being given valuable information on improvements to their already purchased services.

In general, the deeper you can go, the greater the possibility that you can maintain interest in what you are offering.

Tracking and Analyzing

Analyzing ads for retargeting

You don’t want to waste money on ineffective re-targeting campaigns.

All of the platforms you use for re-targeting have the available analytics to let you know if those ads are actually performing well. And performance, of course, is based upon how many re-targeted prospects ultimately become paying customers.

The success of re-targeting campaigns must then be analyzed in comparison with the costs of that re-targeting.

If the sales profits exceed a re-targeting campaign cost, then obviously you will want to continue that type of campaign. If they don’t, then you will need to re-assess your campaigns and make changes.

This is where continual and consistent analysis comes in.

There is no point in running re-targeting campaigns if you are not going to:

  • Analyze the results.
  • Make modifications.
  • Analyze those modifications.

Re-targeting is not something you just set up and then ignore.

It requires vigilance, constant analysis, and change.

Avoiding the “Creepiness” Factor

A lot of consumers are very concerned about their privacy and resent intrusions and interruptions as they navigate the internet.

Retailers who get a reputation for “stalking” can realize some pretty adverse effects of their re-targeting activities; the biggest being a lack of trust.

For example, it is not uncommon for an ad to show up for a product that the consumer has already purchased.

Why is that happening?

Because the retailer has not been vigilant about tracking that consumer’s behavior. This is irritating at best.

But even more, continued re-targeting can be perceived as harassment and a bit creepy in the consumer’s eyes.

There is a body of best practices for re-targeting that all retailers should seriously consider to overcome the “creepiness factor”.

They include the following:

  • Create only personally relevant ads for re-targeting, focusing only on products and services that users have looked at.
  • Make the ads pleasing and well-designed.
  • Consider reducing the frequency of the ads.
  • Stop re-targeting with items or services the consumer has already purchased. This is a matter of individualization and it is important in maintaining your reputation.

If you are relatively new to this re-targeting concept, it might be a good idea to get some professional help with your campaigns.

When you irritate and upset consumers, your reputation suffers and you lose not only that re-targeted prospect but others with whom that prospect communicates.

When done right, there are great advantages to re-targeting

Ending this post with a discussion of creepiness may cause you to think twice about re-targeting campaigns.

But remember:

  • If you do this right, you will not offend, irritate, or frighten prospects.

You will be creating a situation that keeps your business in the customer’s mind when they are ready to purchase.

Here are some things to take note of:

  • You want to remain front and center to your prospects, especially if those prospects are in the “investigation stage” of purchasing. If you can represent your product or service over the course of the next 30 days or so, they will probably remember you when they do decide to make a purchase.
  • Studies show that, on average, a landing page results in a 35% conversion rate. Re-targeting has a much higher rate of conversion.
  • Re-targeting is a great means of keeping yourself in front of a consumer who has already purchased from you. You can provide discounts and special offers on related products and services that should be of interest to them.

What are some things you keep in mind when re-targeting? How effective has re-targeting been for you? Let me know in the comments below.

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