What Is Retargeting and How Is It Used?

Quick Summary: Retargeting puts a company's display advertising in front of a consumer on a regular basis. This creates and enhances brand recognition.

When someone visits or abandons your website, you think that is it, opportunity lost. But retargeting is a great way to win them back. Find out how retargeting works and why you should use it in your digital marketing strategy.

When a consumer visits and abandons a retail website, it can be for a variety of reasons. Some of the more common reasons for visiting a retail website but not buying anything include price shopping, their credit card was not handy or they simply forgot about making a purchase and went off to do something else.
Of course, many times a consumer leaves a retail website because they are simply not interested in making a purchase. However, it makes good marketing sense to stay in touch with that traffic. The consumer could change his or her mind! The way to do that is through retargeting.

What Is Retargeting?

When a consumer visits a retail website, a cookie is put into that consumer’s browser history. If that consumer does not complete the buying process, then that cookie is used to show the consumer display ads on other websites. These ads remind the consumer of their visit to the original website. This is the act of retargeting consumers who showed an interest in a website’s offering but did not initially take action to complete a sale.

What About Remarketing?

Remarketing is a Google term created to describe email campaigns created to target consumers who abandon shopping carts. In many marketing discussions, the terms retargeting and remarketing are used interchangeably. This is technically correct. But retargeting is the term for the broader act of targeting consumers who previously showed interest in a website.

How Does Retargeting Work?

When a consumer visits a website and then leaves without buying anything, digital marketing experts can use the cookie information to determine important demographic information about the consumer (location, browser preference, computer type) and which specific pages the consumer visited. Cookies can even be used to tell what specific products consumers spent the most time looking at.


The information that is collected is used to create very specific advertising campaigns for targeted groups of people. Digital marketing companies have large advertising networks set up that will recognize the cookie information and show display ads to specific consumers based on the particular retargeting campaign. For example, imagine a consumer who spent time on a car parts website but did not buy anything. They would then see display ads from that website on other websites they visit. In this way, the consumer is reminded about his or her interest in car parts.

Why Use Retargeting?

Retargeting is an essential part of digital marketing that will significantly increase the return on a company’s marketing budget. It can be used to bring back a consumer who showed interested in a product but did not purchase. Retargeting also gives retail websites the chance to create very detailed profiles of the traffic that visits their websites each day.

In advertising, brand recognition is a critical element to increasing client revenue. Retargeting puts a company’s display advertising in front of a consumer on a regular basis. This creates and enhances brand recognition.

That repeated exposure of display advertising to select consumers helps to significantly increase a marketing client’s return on investment. With retargeting, the impressions purchased on a PPC network can be used to only target people who have shown a previous interest in the website’s offerings. This then brings in targeted traffic to a retail website.
In the hands of an experienced marketing professional, retargeting can be an extremely effective tool to generate revenue. One of the details that can be controlled in retargeting is how often and on how many websites a consumer will see a particular retailer’s ads.

Too much exposure will cause the consumer to turn away from the advertiser. But the right amount of exposure on the right websites can bring in targeted web traffic that is ready to buy.

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