Smarter search retargeting to support your content efforts

Even if you’ve never heard the phrase “retargeting,” chances are you’ve seen it in action. Ever notice how after you visit a site, the web suddenly seems to be filled with ads for that same site?

That’s retargeting (“remarketing” to Google) in action and usually, if you’ve noticed it happening, it means the advertiser is doing it wrong.  Done right, it’s a subtle but effective way at keeping people engaged with your brand once they’ve visited your site, keeping your product at the backs of their mind, and helping ensure an eventual conversion, lead or booking.

It can take a travel consumer up to 46 website visits[ref]Travel Content Journey: Expedia Media Solutions, November 2013[/ref] over weeks of research, review searching and price comparison before they make a booking and retargeting gives brands an opportunity to stay relevant throughout that customer journey.

This is especially powerful in the content marketing context: Retargeting gives you the ability to tailor specific ads to individual lists of customers, for instance people that have read or downloaded a certain piece of content can be shown specific ads to gently encourage them towards revisiting your website at a later stage and making a booking.

The problem is that this process of list building, i.e. segmenting customer groups and determining what ads to show them, how frequently, and until what cut-off time, has tended to be laborious and tricky to get right. Showing ads insufficiently is a waste of time, while overdoing it risks upsetting some of your most valuable prospects by giving them that creepy feeling they’re being followed and watched.

Fortunately “Smart Lists,” a new feature launched last week, makes it possible to automate list building and use Google’s technology to optimise ad display and rotation for each list.

Or, in Google’s own words:

Smart Lists are built using machine learning across the millions of Google Analytics websites which have opted in to share anonymized conversion data, using dozens of signals like visit duration, page depth, location, device, referrer, and browser to predict which of your users are most likely to convert during a later visit.

Based on their on-site actions, Analytics is able to calibrate your remarketing campaigns to align with each user’s value.

It’s likely that this feature will be of most use on smaller paid search & retargeting campaigns that don’t have the necessary resources or skills to properly optimise the campaigns in-house.  It’s also important to note that Google is using transaction data (i.e. ecommerce sales, not regular conversions) from millions of other Analytics profiles to optimise lists and campaigns. This will likely skew the feature’s benefits in favour of other ecommerce sites.

That caveat notwithstanding it’s still worth investigating for any advertiser that is investing time and money on traffic generation, especially with content campaigns. The opportunity to close the loop on otherwise “lost” traffic and bring people back to your site should not be ignored, particularly when Google is making it even easier to implement.

Give us a call if you want to learn more about how retargeting can support your content marketing efforts.

Further reading: 

Smarter remarketing with Google Analytics: Google Analytics Blog, 9 April, 2014

Google Analytics Adds “Smart Lists” To Automate Remarketing List Optimization: Search Engine Land, 11 April 2014


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