You are here

Search Retargeting from start to finish

The online world has opened up unprecedented opportunity for advertisers to reach broader audiences.

But it’s such a varied and complex system that many have resorted to just slapping a one-size-fits-all approach on it.  

Until now, Pay Per Click (PPC) and Search Engine Optimisation (SEO) have taken the lion’s share of the online advertising budget. But advertisers are starting to see the benefits of display advertising, and with the rise of innovative technology like programmatic buying, display advertising is enjoying a resurgence as it’s able to achieve that granular targeting of consumers at scale, which is the holy grail of advertising.

Search Retargeting is a new technology practise that’s improving targeting further, by utilising the power of search. Search is an indicator of intent and Search Retargeting’s transparency, accountability and performance measurement are putting it at the centre of one of the most important evolutions in advertising: making content more relevant for the user. But how does it actually work? The following blog will provide a step by step guide to getting you up and running with Search Retargeting.

Getting off the starting block: setting up Search Retargeting

Firstly, brands need to identify who it is they want to target. This is most effectively done through generating a list of keywords. Brands will be familiar with the keyword list as they put something similar together for their SEO and PPC campaigns. However, as Search Retargeting requires a far more granular approach to data if it’s to be effective, lists of a few thousand words can be expanded to over 20,000 keywords in order to cover every eventuality for a potential audience. Smarter use of data is the focus here.

Big data has become far to generalised as a concept, rather than bucketing together vast amounts of data in generalised segments to hopefully get a result, advertisers need to harness the accuracy of search keywords to get a result. With a more sophisticated and granulated approach, brands are able to increasingly target an audience of one, rather than making do with bigger, more generalised segments.

Crossing the finish line: getting in front of your customers

Technologies like Site Retargeting have already demonstrated the benefits of a more targeted approach to your online ad campaigns, but Search Retargeting has taken it one step further. Put simply, it shows display ads (banners) to users based on their recent searches across the web.  For example, after a user has made a search and subsequently left the search engine to go to another website, Search Retargeting capitalises on real time bidding technology to show the right ad to the right user at the right time.

The data is captured in real time by the Data Publisher’s Network, either from search engines or onsite search boxes, and then matched against that list of keywords. Keywords can be anything from brand names, competitor names, and misspelt names to products, depending on the advertiser’s criteria. The Decision Making Engine that analyses over 150 variables and then applies this insight to see when and on what site to re-target the user.

The mechanics of this hinges on Real Time Bidding (RTB). It has revolutionised the ad tech world to a stock exchange for coveted ad space.  Ad space is bought via programmatic buying functionality, from private market place deals or ad exchanges.

Finally the creative is delivered at the right place at the right time so the ad is relevant to the users search. This of course happens in a split second and then should the user wish to interact with the targeted ad, then may click through the served banner ad to the purchase.

For example if a user was search for a black dress on Google and “” has employed a Search Retargeting campaign, when this user leaves the search engine to go to a website, on the banner ad of that website, they will be served with an advert for a black dress from “”. Immediately capturing the attention from the user and leading them to a website where they can buy the products they have demonstrated an interest in.

The results are in: measuring how effective your campaign is

 Every ad campaign has different targets and objectives.  Some brands may be looking to boost web traffic and others may simply be looking for sales generation.  While technology platforms with their algorithmic decision making can analyse large data sets and help the optimisation process, understanding people needs a human element.  For example we know that people are most likely to order a takeaway on Saturday evening, so more relevant ads would be geared up for Saturday rather than a Monday.

Technologies like Search Retargeting are serving millions of ads on a daily basis and they need to have the complexity to target different customers for different reasons. But whilst the technology behind Search Retargeting is very complex, the results are very simple: getting in front of the right customer at the right time. By being able to engage on a much more granular level with new and existing customers, brands can enjoy the rewards of targeting advertising through the results it generates.