As an entrepreneur from West Michigan, I share my thoughts about entrepreneurship, startups, technology, and marketing.
Google & Facebook Re-marketing: A Minority Report Future
Nov 7, 2013  |   Advertising  |   No Comments

Google & Facebook Re-marketing: A Minority Report Future

Remember the scene in Minority Report when we see Tom Cruise’s character walk into a mall and see digital ads talking to him by name? Well, if you’re visiting the right websites, you’ve probably experienced something similar because of a web tracking technology called “re-marketing.”

I’ve been spending a bulk of my time this past month focused on our re-marketing efforts for ProCPR. If you’re not familiar with the term “re-marketing,” you probably have at least experienced it in your own browsing of the web. The basic gist of re-marketing is building ads that are targeted to a group of people who have somehow interacted with your website or brand in the past. So, when someone visits the ProCPR homepage, Google stores a cookie on their computer, which places that person in a “ProCPR homepage” list in our Google Analytics account for the next 60 days. We can then build ProCPR ads that show up on other websites and are targeted to people in this re-marketing list. The thought is that they may still be in buying mode and it’s in our best interests to stay in front of them.

Well, that’s the most basic form of re-marketing that we have been doing for a couple of years now. But lately, I’ve been experimenting with other forms of higher engagement re-marketing with varying levels of success. One ad format that I’m especially excited about is YouTube TrueView ads. Using our existing Google Analytics re-marketing lists, we are now showing a video ad to people before they watch videos on YouTube and other partner sites. People have the opportunity to skip the ad and we are not charged if they do this within 30 seconds. This means our brand is staying in front of people who visited our site recently but didn’t buy from us. And we already know that most of the world watches YouTube! We’ve been experimenting with these ads for about a month now, and I am starting to see a decent number of conversions from the campaign. Next, we need to build several more video ads and segment our re-marketing lists into groups of people who show a higher intent to purchase. I think the potential here is just huge since we know the people who are seeing our video ads are already familiar with our brand and are in the market to purchase. And video can be much more emotionally gripping than your typical AdWords text ad. It’s definitely more work to implement though!

We also recently signed up for an account with AdRoll. They are a re-marketing platform that allows you to access inventory on Facebook, Google, Yahoo, AOL, and others. I signed up mostly for the access to Facebook. Now, you might wonder why I don’t just advertise directly on Facebook. I do this too, actually, but Facebook doesn’t allow you to do re-marketing directly through their platform. You need to go through a reseller, such as AdRoll, that has access to the Facebook Exchange. This means I install AdRoll’s JavaScript snippet to build my re-marketing list, much like I would do with Google Analytics. Then, I can define specific segments with RegEx and target them with Facebook newsfeed stream ads and right-hand side ads. In my experiments, the newsfeed ads tend to have much higher impressions, clicks, conversions, and engagement than the right-hand side ads. It has been fascinating to see the comments and questions pouring in from people who visited our homepage or landing pages, abandoned the site, and then saw the Facebook newsfeed ad. It has given us insight into why people leave our site and the questions we are leaving unanswered. It also gives us the opportunity to reach back out to these people and have a conversation with them. Although some of the comments are going to be negative, I see the transparency as a good thing as long as I am quick to respond in a professional manner. Overall, our AdRoll experience has been well worth the money we’ve spent on it.

The last form of re-marketing to mention isn’t really traditional re-marketing, but more of a hack to re-engage with our customers. Our CPR certificates expire after two years, at which point (or just before) we do what we can to reach our customers and let them know it’s time to renew. The primary way we do this is over email. However, emails often bounce, go to spam, or just get missed/ignored. A new strategy I’ve employed to reach out to users is through Facebook audiences. By querying our database and exporting a list of email addresses of users who expire in the upcoming month, I am able to build an audience and craft an ad that is extremely relevant and often more likely to be noticed than an email in the person’s inbox. Sure, it costs some money, but it has increased our renewal rates enough to easily pay for itself. It has also generated a large number of comments, likes, and shares. That’s the truly amazing thing about advertising on social media — you’re not just advertising to an individual like you do in AdWords SEM ads, you’re advertising to that person and potentially the rest of their network.

It doesn’t look like re-marketing is going away any time soon. Google, Facebook, and others are continually getting more sophisticated in their implementations of re-marketing and are pushing one another to innovate. With the upcoming move to Universal Analytics with Google, cross device tracking, etc., I can see the potential for highly targeted digital advertising to become even more prevalent and sophisticated. This will hopefully benefit both the advertiser, who wants to reach the right person, and the consumer, who wants to see more relevant ads. However, privacy is becoming an ever growing concern as ads continue to get more and more personalized. Still, Internet marketers need to stay educated if they hope to keep up.

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