We live in a day and age when browsing the web is no longer an anonymous activity. In addition to all of the "+1's" and "Likes" we leave in our digital wake, we're also the recipients of retargeting (or remarketing) advertisements and emails. We've all experienced retargeting by now. Retargeting is a simple yet effective solution that places anonymous tracking cookies on your browser. This cookie is a small file that stores information on which pages you've visited on the web. This same cookie lets your retargeting provider know when you've gone to another website, and it will bid on ad space in real time so that if you're the highest bidder, an ad will show on the page. For example, if you visited Zappos.com today and looked at hiking boots, you may see the same boots in an ad while browsing CNN.com.
Retargeting is more efficient than traditional display or email advertising because marketers can use the technology when shoppers have shown intent to purchase or familiarity with a brand. There are many solutions for retargeting, and some firms specialize in it (e.g., AdRoll, ReTargeter and Fetchback), while others integrate it into their overall advertising suite.
The placements are determined largely by how much you're willing to spend. When setting up your campaigns, you do have some control over the types of sites that your ads appear on, so it's a good idea to work with the vendor to identify ideal sites for your target audience. The ads themselves can include standard messaging that displays to everyone or they can be personalized, dynamic ads. It's highly advisable to customize your ads based on the user's behaviors, particularly for retailers.
Instead of showing a basic ad, it's much more effective to show your shopper the boots that she was browsing before leaving your site. Even better, if your shopper has an item in their cart, why not serve up a promotion to entice her to come back and complete the order? These customized methods of reaching out to consumers typically convert better and are more eye-catching than traditional forms of web advertising.