Retargeting Basics: Interested in Retargeting but Don’t Know Where to Start?

Thinking about improving your ads’ effectiveness through retargeting? Then check out this guest post from our friends at AdRoll for the basics on getting started.

Tinsel-trimmed Tree? Check.

Perfectly wrapped presents? Check.

Sophisticated and highly-segmented retargeting campaigns, fully-optimized for increased holiday traffic? Maybe not.

Retargeting is a powerful online advertising tool that can place the right message in front of the right user at the right time. While it’s become quite the talk of the ad-tech town, I fully realize that many businesses, spanning the gamut in terms of size and industry, are just getting their feet wet in the online advertising space.

To that end, instead of providing a few tactical or creative best practices, below are three important considerations for those thinking about adding retargeting to their marketing mix for the first time:


One size doesn’t fit all

There are many choices for retargeting out there, each with their own specialty or value proposition. Do your homework before committing to one – below are some important questions to ask when evaluating platforms:

  • Reputation: Does the company have a long-standing history of success? What types of companies does it usually work with? Is my business size/model well represented?
  • Pricing Model: Does the pricing model match my business goals? Am I charged per click, impression or acquisition? Are these prices fixed? Are there minimum spend requirements?
  • Transparency: What metrics/reporting do I have access to? Can I see which sites my ads are shown on and what my costs are per site?
  • Flexibility: Are there contracts needed to set up my account/retargeting campaigns? Do I have the ability to start and stop campaigns at my discretion? Can I create short-lived campaigns for specific events, like holidays?
  • Optimization: Is there a custom optimization strategy? With what levers can I optimize my account: lowest-priced clicks, incremental lift, new customers vs. old, etc.?
  • Customer Service: Is the company’s platform self-service or is there an account management team to help? Is the latter tied to a specific level of spend?


Place a pixel as soon as possible

The days leading up to Christmas are all characterized by an increase in web traffic coming from consumers researching potential gift ideas and hunting for the best deals. Placing a pixel on your site, thus cookie-ing your site visitors when they browse your page, will provide you with a wealth of data that can later be used in smart advertising efforts.

For example: want to offer a special discount for a certain product? Having placed a pixel earlier, you’ll be able to re-engage potential customers who viewed that specific product on your site but didn’t buy, and present them directly with the discount. It doesn’t get any more precise than that!


Give it time

Just like homemade gingerbread cookies, retargeting campaigns need a little time to bake. After a couple of weeks or so, see which campaigns and ads are resonating with your customers and tweak those that aren’t!

Something as simple as changing the color of your call-to-action button can produce a dramatic uptick in clicks and conversions. One of AdRoll’s designers recently wrote a blog post on creative best practices – check it out for some more great suggestions.


Don’t worry – it’s not too late to start! There’s still time to set up your retargeting campaign this holiday season. You can get started here.




Jonathan Lau, Content & Marketing Manager at AdRoll, the #1 Retargeting Platform.

Before transitioning to Marketing, Jonathan originally joined AdRoll’s Advertising Operation team, after almost two years in Google’s Online Sales organization. He possesses a rich understanding of the online advertising ecosystem, consultative selling and customer service. He thoroughly enjoys heading to ShangRolla each morning, AdRoll’s SOMA-based HQ, where intellect, hard work, humor and new dogs collide every day.

2 Responses to “Retargeting Basics: Interested in Retargeting but Don’t Know Where to Start?”

  1. Nick

    Place a pixel on your site? What are you talking about? Please provide some context. I read this article because I’m new to the re-targeting concept and the title said “basics” and “where to start”, but you are talking as if everyone is already familiar with the terminology:(

    • Gracelyn T.

      On behalf of Jonathan L.:

      To begin any retargeting efforts, an advertiser must place a pixel, or small snippet of code, on their website. This pixel identifies how potential customers interact with a website and allows for segmentation of those customers for later advertising targeting. We suggest placing this pixel as soon as possible so an advertiser can begin their retargeting campaigns with the most data!

      Happy Holidays,


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