With Father’s Day behind us, one thing that I was aware of this year more so than before is how many ways I was reached for potential gifts for dad. And not in your typical “look, I got an email with some great savings” kind of way.

Online marketing is getting incredibly sophisticated (some say creepy). In reality what I find more and more merchants doing is buying into the same retargeting networks. Have you ever noticed that you look at a product one day on Amazon only later to find that when you’re viewing some site (and it can be a totally random site) that all of a sudden that same product is being advertised there? Yeah, that’s retargeting. It’s in massive use right now.

At first glance it’s a little impressive that someone figured out how to make all that work. At another level, I find my scepticism with online advertising heightened due to this method. But it does work. It keeps the products you were searching for top of mind so later once you’ve had some time to think about it you see the product again and click away to purchase.

Retargeting can work magic for a few reasons:

  • It’s relative to you as an individual. It takes into account the things you were looking at online and makes recommendations based off that. To the advertiser, the direct marketing value is exponentially better than virtually anything in the past (think printed ads) and there are mountains of data being produced behind all of it to make your future investment even more beneficial.
  • It’s a softer approach. More subtle. When you have a site with some random, blinking banner ad that has nothing to do with your day to day life, it will not get clicked (except to close it if it’s an annoying pop-up). These ads sneak up on you. All of a sudden you remember back to when you were looking at that BBQ or pair of shoes and remember that yes indeed you wanted to order it.
  • Data. As mentioned before, there is a lot of information now that someone can track to see how successful your ads are doing. You can figured out if the placement of the ad is the issue, if one title does better than another, if one image produces better results than another, and so on. While this might take more work on the front end to establish the campaign, the net result is more informed and thus less wasteful of your budget.

Online advertising makes the web world go ‘round, unfortunately. It is good to see that the technology is getting better at the user experience. It is also really good news for people who are wanting to buy space in advertising online. Dig in to the tools that are out there (AdRoll, Perfect Audience, eBay Enterprise (was Fetchback), Chango, Triggit to name a few).

One final comment on this. For many, they look to Google Adwords (or pay-per-click) as their primary source for online marketing. This newer remarking approach opens some other doors that were once not accessible via Google. Adwords are great when you’re actually searching or if the site you’re visiting is using the Adwords tool to serve up ads. Retargeting specifically works with sites like Facebook and Pinterest to integrate other opportunities.

Anyway you use it, retargeting is powerful and it’s here to stay. Don’t let your competition be the only ones using it!


With over a decade of experience, I have managed online marketing for a wide range of industries including biotech, high-tech, financial, higher education, non-profit, manufacturing, hardware providers, and startups. My specialty is helping business make the right turn with their online efforts focusing on lead generation and analytics.

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