Banner Remarketing: Giving You a Second Chance at Winning Customers

We’ve all seen that movie before – the main character goes about their business, visiting the laundromat or what-have-you, while a shadowy-looking figure lurks in the background. The same mysterious person happens to show up at the main character’s favorite coffee shop, perhaps sipping a mochachino under the brim of their low cap. Of course, the hero of the story has no idea that this individual is following them, but we, being the omnipotent viewers that are, know all too well that it’s only a matter of time until the two meet face to face. Now, I don’t mean to scare you, but I think it’s in your best interest that I inform you of some important information – you’re being followed. Yes, followed quite closely… look behind you! Relax, relax, I’m kidding. Or am I? I am. I’m merely referring to the online ad banners that are specifically targeted to you through ad remarketing.

Whether you’re aware of it or not, the ads you see while you happily cruise through the suburbs of the internet are far more “you-specific” than you might realize. Every time you visit a website, a little tracking device, called a cookie, is placed on your web browser. Why this technology has such a delicious name, I do not know. (Personally I would have gone with “brownie”.) Baked goods aside, these cookies play a valuable part in your web experience. Whether you purchase something from that website or not, many websites will use this cookie to place one of their ads on the site you visit next, even if it’s unrelated. This sly process is called ad remarketing. In general, all your dealings with online-ads will be in some part a direct result of information that sites you’ve previously visited have gathered about you.

Wait – don’t freak out! You’re not being stalked as much as you think (cookies can be deleted at any time if you’re looking for a fresh identity.) And, for the average customer, having remarketed ads can be a great thing. Instead of randomly advertising to “Grandfather Jones” for iPods, videogames, and other things he probably isn’t interested in, our elderly friend can see ad banners for things that are more relevant to his life like suspenders or perhaps extra-double strength super-size bifocals (at least that’s what my own grandfather would shop for.)

So how does this all work? Google Adwords, the advertising program that most websites use, will take care of most everything – all you have to do is give it the specifics. Through Adwords you, as our trusty website manager, can make the decisions of who to target, how often to target them, and what type of weapon you’d like to target them with. Well, maybe not the last part – that’s a different type of targeting. Let’s say you’d like to display a certain ad for your site to every customer that leaves your site but doesn’t end up buying anything. No problemo (why yes, I do speak Spanish) – Google Adwords can make this distinction. Next, you specify how often you want your Ad to be displayed to each customer. I realize it might be tempting to shout, “All the time! Show them my ad every second of their lives! Paste it on their windshield and paint on their ceiling while they sleep!”, an outburst to which I would reply, “You should probably see a psychiatrist.” I’d also try to impress upon you that almost every study has shown that the most effective way to win yourself back these prospective customers is through subtle amounts of advertising that serve as pleasant reminders rather than in-your-face propaganda.

Short of offering your customers money (an interesting, yet perhaps counterproductive tactic), using ad remarketing may be the most effective way to give your website a leg or even an arm up on the competition. It’s cheap, user-friendly, and can make your website seem it’s going out of its way to spend millions on advertising (customers always like to feel like they’re being lavished upon). So what are you waiting for? Cast out your line and start reeling in customers (metaphorically, of course).

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