Ad Remarketing: Can You Afford to Ignore It Any Longer?

posted this in
Online Advertising
on September 16th, 2013

As an Account Manager at Rocket Media, I talk to small and medium sized business owners who want to get more people to their website. You’re probably no different.

But too many times, you work hard to get someone to your website only to see them leave without calling you or making a purchase.

What if there was a way you could keep your company in front of these visitors even after they have left your website?

There is. (Obviously, or I wouldn’t have asked such a rhetorical question.

If you haven’t tried ad remarketing (formerly ad retargeting), you should.

What is ad remarketing and how does it work?

Ad remarketing is an online advertising platform that allows you to deliver targeted ads to someone who has been to your website even after they have left and gone to another website.

Here’s the basics of how it works:

  1. You install a tracking code on your website (more on this later), and create banners of different sizes with your offer.
  2. When someone visits your site, a cookie is downloaded by their browser. This simply lets the ad service provider know they’ve been to your website.
  3. When these visitors go to other websites under the same ad service provider, they are shown your remarketing ads. (We’ll show you an example in a little bit)

Why should I care about ad remarketing?

Sounds nifty, but why should you care about this? Ad remarketing lets you stay in front of website visitors who have left your site without getting to your goal (filling out a form, making a purchase etc.). Plus, it’s:

  • Very affordable - Your ad is circulating on hundreds of other websites like an online billboard. And you pay only if someone clicks on one of your ads.
  • Very effective - Your remarketing ads are only going to the people who have been to your website, so you are advertising to people who already know who you are.
  • Very customizable - There’s a lot you can do with remarketing. You can set up your remarketing ads with a tracking code that delivers the same ad to anyone who visits your website, or you can specifically target people who have viewed individual pages on your site (read more about this below).

Effective ad remarketing strategies

If you’re just starting out in the world of ad remarketing, you may want to take the whole-site approach. This means putting the code on your website and targeting every visitor who comes to your site and leaves without converting. While this can be effective, there are better ways to go about ad remarketing.

Like effective email marketing, these approaches use segmentation to better target your website visitors. Here are some segments to try.

Prospects who are researching

For this first example let’s look at a common website visitor for almost any business: the researcher.

The researcher wants to know as much about a product or service as they can before moving forward. This prospective customer likely came to your landing page to learn about XYZ product or service, but they do not make an order or submit a form.

For this customer your remarketing ad may focus on an offer for that product, or the features that differentiate you from your competition. You know this customer is researching (because of the page(s) they visited) so standing out from the competition is the name of the game.

Prospects who are shopping

Now let’s say your website visitor made it one step further: this user added the product to their shopping cart, or opened up the contact us form, but they didn’t make the purchase and didn’t submit the form. Now what?

These visitors are on the fence and need a little something to push them over. You have their attention, now lets get them to take the bait with an ad that will push them over the top. A simple offer like free shipping, or waived service fee could be exactly what they were waiting for!

Your current customers

The last idea I want to discuss is staying on top of your current customers. Here a new customer just landed on your conversion page and are now in your new customer pipeline, why not get your next message in front of them.

You can do this by designing something that advertises the next step in the process or the next product/service they should be looking for.

Or you can use it to wow your customers. After selling a product online, set up your remarketing ad to display a thank-you message. (Maybe something like “Thanks for purchasing from Acme Widget! If you need anything else, just give us a call at XXX-XXX-XXX.) What better way to stand out in the mind of your new customer?

Another effective strategy could be to throw in a little offer for a free gift if they refer someone to you (now we are making the customer happy and getting a new one, how can you lose on that?). Who better than a customer at the height of their satisfaction for your brand? They are the perfect person to send to a referral page.

There are even more ways you could use retargeting. By integrating all of your marketing you can develop advertisements related to your email campaigns, social media marketing, pay-per-click marketing and much more. With proper analytics and segmentation the options are endless!

Some examples of effective ad remarketing

I’ve thrown a lot at you, but sometimes it’s easier to understand if you see something rather than just read about it. So here are some good examples of ad remarketing from around the web that show its flexibility and customizability.

Ackerman Security

It’s no secret - home security is not an impulse buy. People want a reputable and trustworthy security company. Ackerman Security was finding that many of their visitors left before calling them for an in-home appointment.

So we created some ad remarketing banners for them and installed the tracking code on their whole site. Now, anyone who is in their target market (Atlanta, GA and Washington DC metro areas) that visits their website and leaves is treated to something like the following while on other websites.

The results: Since this is a current client, I can speak directly to the results. And while I’m not allowed to reveal exact numbers, let’s just say that it’s been so effective they have asked us to expand it. We’ll now be doing more specific target ads (using some of the strategies in the section above.)


As the largest online retailer, Amazon is obviously doing some things right. One of those things is ad remarketing. Just last month I went camping and found out my tent was leaking and the zippers were breaking (this did not make for a great trip, but I digress). When I got back into town I knew my old tent was through and I needed a new one before our next trip.

What did I do? I took the role of a researcher. I looked at Walmart, Target, manufacturer sites, and yes Amazon. Spoiler alert, I bought a tent on Amazon (and a couple of other impulse items that I couldn’t resist). But here is what helped push me to make the purchase. While searching for tents, I saw this:

Oh yeah, I almost forgot I needed a tent! So I clicked on the ad, found the exact tent for me and made my purchase. Amazon was the company that followed up with me, they didn’t have my email or phone number, but thanks to ad remarketing they won my business.


Well what do you know, this has been an active summer (and an expensive one). Before I ran into my issue with my tent, earlier in the summer I broke my iPhone case. Even though my case broke, I actually really liked it and wanted to check out other cases by the same company.

I went to Incipio’s website and searched their products for a thicker case, or a different design, but I didn’t love the price. So in my effort to save money and be a smart shopper, I waited. But in the meantime Incipio knew I put a case in their cart, and looked at the price so they had this ad ready to go:

Well how about that, twenty percent off on their site. That was enough for me! No need to go to Amazon this time, no need to check out the competition. They gave me an offer and I took the bait (and actually bought two cases to try both out). So far, all is well and the case is perfect.

No matter the industry, I have yet to see a company that could not benefit from this platform. But maybe I’m wrong, get in touch and tell us how you may be the exception. And even better let us know your great ideas for remarketing your company!