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Study: What Actual Marketers Feel About Retargeting, FBX & More

I have very strong opinions about retargeting, as regular readers will know! Marketers seem to be on a crazy high these days, obsessed with the idea that their path to success is to spend more on site retargeting and keep finding ways to increase their audience pool or boost frequency caps to obscene levels.

More spend is better? Garbage! Smarter spending is better.

Over the last two years, I have discussed why marketers should cut their site retargeting budget, how programmatic marketing executions can change retargeting forever and, in a recent iMedia article, why retargeting is fundamentally broken.

But, these are just my opinions; and so, the team at Chango refreshed the Retargeting Barometer, asking more than 50 marketers and agencies what they really think of retargeting today.

Buying Retargeting Directly

Retargeting barometer results

The first surprise for me was the rate at which marketers are moving from buying retargeting through their agency to buying it directly from vendors (58%).

About 7 years ago, I was running the European arm of a major ad server, and we were just beginning to see the same type of pattern. Our business was 80%+ agencies, but the incoming leads were nearly all brands — and now the majority of ad server accounts are held by the brands.

The reason? Marketers want control of their own data, and they also want consistency in these core programs, even if they part ways with their agency.

That’s troubling news for agencies, who are already struggling to find new ways to prove their value in this rapidly changing ecosystem. But, as I often help agencies to understand, all is not lost for them — many marketers still need the execution and creative services that agencies bring. If agencies begin to realize that clients want smarter buying, not “more” buying, there are other ways for them to win, too (as outlined in the iMedia article above).

Email Retargeting: The Great, Big Missed Opportunity

Retargeting barometer results

At industry events, I will often ask the audience how many are using email retargeting — and I’ve yet to ever see a room where the response is more than 10%!

Email retargeting is simple: someone receives your email, is cookied and added to your retargeting pool — this allows the marketer to retarget them with display ads just as they do with site retargeting.

If you tag your emails correctly, you can show a custom display ad to each individual depending on what email they interacted with. Given that there is no additional cost or technology involved with this tactic, it never ceases to amaze me how infrequently it is used.

Search Retargeting Has Well & Truly Arrived

For clarity, search retargeting is the idea that an individual has performed a search on Google, Yahoo or Bing, but not yet visited your site. They are expressing the right intent; and so, we target them on behalf of clients with a display ad to win their business.

Of the Barometer’s respondents, 45% reported using search retargeting now — with 92% saying it was increasing revenue and 68% reporting greater on-site engagement. What was interesting was that a whopping 50% are also using it for brand awareness. Given that there are no restrictions on using competitor terms, 58% are sneakily pilfering directly from their competitors.

Budgets Are Getting Bigger – But That Worries Me

Not a single respondent reported that their budget for site retargeting or search retargeting would be decreasing over the next 12 months. I should be delighted; but actually, this worries me.

I worry that, with site retargeting, in particular, marketers are going to increase their budgets for all the wrong reasons — because the wool is being pulled over their eyes about what site retargeting is actually doing — rather than because they are using a proper scientific measure to look at the incremental value. We shall see where the industry shakes out on this one.

Let’s Welcome FBX To The Party

Retargeting Barometer resultsSince their launch late last year, FBX have done a great job of making noise (supported greatly by the 13 of us that were chosen as early, named PMD partners), and marketers have certainly listened.

For the first few months, it was the retargeting companies that dominated the space — given that their contracts with brands often allowed them free reign over where they placed ads and what creative ad units they used — it was a no-brainer, really.

This is at least partly responsible for all but one marketer surveyed reporting that their FBX budget would be staying the same, or increasing, over the year to come; but, I bet with the upcoming launch of newsfeed content being added to FBX, Chango’s next refresh of the Barometer will show an even higher percentage increasing their spend.

To Wrap Up…

Retargeting is big. Retargeting has driven a lot of display spending that otherwise would not have occurred. Retargeting is more than just site retargeting — it is also search retargeting and email retargeting. It is being used primarily for customer acquisition, but also for boosting branding and awareness.

Because of all of this, budgets are increasing, and at a quicker rate than before. But, have caution: don’t just spend more for the sake of spending more, spend smarter instead.


Opinions expressed in this article are those of the guest author and not necessarily Search Engine Land. Staff authors are listed here.


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