There are many ways to promote your site and generate traffic and sales, and paid advertising is one of the more popular choices.

When done right, the return on investment can be huge, which is why there are so many ad networks out there and so many adverts bombarding us from every angle!

Advert retargeting is a growing trend in the advertising and marketing circles, and if you use paid advertising it is definitely something that you should make a budget for.

It works by using browser cookies to track your visitors. However, instead of just seeing what they are doing on your site like with Google Analytics, these cookies follow the visitor around after they have left your site.

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If that user then visits a site with an ad network you are using, such as Google Adwords, it will try to serve them an advert not only about your site, but about their viewing history on your site.

You may have already experienced it yourself, but imagine going to Amazon and looking at some shoes. Then later in the day you pop on to a random website, and lo and behold, there is an advert for those shoes you were looking at!

Effective Reminders

This type of tracking can do wonders for conversions. Think of it this way, on average only 2% or so of first time visitors to your site will convert. Often this percentage is even lower.

Some people, me included, tend not to buy things straight away but instead want to think about the purchase and weight the pros and cons.

Reminding visitors about your goods or services further down the line can be a powerful motivator for them to revisit your site and purchase.

Trust me

Human beings are extraordinarily complex creatures, yet we are also a bit dumb. Studies have shown that continued exposure to brand names and logos breeds familiarity with the company or product.

This in turn creates a sense of trust on a subconscious level. Building trust with your visitors is a key way to generating regular readers, and turning visitors into buyers.

Who doesn’t want an automated system that helps to promote trust in your brand?

Your customers are unique, treat them that way

Retargeting also allows you to make good use of visitor segmentation. This means that you can break down your visitors into narrowly focused groups and target them virtually at an individual level (not quite, but close enough).

Say good-bye to generic advertisements that may only interest a small minority of people who see it. Say hello to advertising that may well get that visitor fired up and into a buying mood.

Setting them up is (quite) easy

Every ad network is seemingly jumping on the bandwagon to provide ad retargeting. It provides them with another service feature and more income, as well as a potential money maker for you.

As such, it is likely that whatever network you use will have the ability to run retargeted adverts.

Setting them up might not look easy at first, but networks like Adwords provide step by step instructions. If you have had some experience with normal adverts, then it shouldn’t be too much hassle to create these.

Like anything though, mastering them may take some time (and money), but it is well worth it.

Every step of the way

If you have a sales funnel already and you run paid ads already, then why not combine the two?

Ad retargeting can help create an advert funnel.

  • Brand Awareness: You can create basic adverts that simply help remind your customers of who you are. This ties into the trust building mentioned above.
  • Reminders: Adverts showing the specific things they were looking at.
  • Answers: Here you could help your initial visitors by answering common questions and overcoming common objections in an ad format. Product benefits work well here too.
  • Purchase: Offering discounts and special offers can entice the visitor back to your site for the purchase.
  • Cross Sell: Offer up similar items, sometimes these can prompt a return visit.
  • Post Purchase: Adverts can continue after purchase. You can try to continue with cross selling, or even look at wider things like getting them into your social networks, or telling them about free services or products.

The key here is to remember that ad retargeting isn’t just about showing the (potential) customer your products and services, but it can be used in a way that can increase brand awareness, trust and values as well.


While all of this sounds amazing, there are definitely some issues you will want to keep in mind.

Be responsible

If you sell adult related products, maybe don’t retarget your visitors with a picture of a giant… well, you get the drift. Even at a less extreme level, you need to target your adverts responsibly so that the user isn’t made to feel uncomfortable by the adverts.

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Be subtle

This feeling of discomfort can also be because of the frequency of the adverts. If possible, keep your adverts sporadic and spread out. I for one absolutely hate it when I get slammed with adverts from a company in a short period of time. Sometimes you end up seeing several of the same one on a single page. This has a negative effect on both brand awareness and opinion, as well as getting people to purchase.


Ad retargeting is only gaining in popularity and will continue to do so for the foreseeable future. This is especially the case as it is spreading to mobile platforms which can also make use of geo-location.

If you are involved in paid advertising, or even if you are just getting started with it, make sure that you make a plan that will involve ad retargeting.

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Join the Discussion

  • Dom Wells
    Dom Wells

    This is something I’ve been learning about too recently, and the more I learn the more it makes sense. It’s more than just a cunning way of getting higher conversions, it actually makes more sense for the customers as well (most of the time).

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