Have you ever noticed that Web pages seem to follow you these days? If you haven’t, certainly millennials have. They have overwhelmingly responded that retargeting can border on intrusive. The practice has shown a lot of promise since it was first embraced by marketers, and it’s fueled by simple ideologies. So why are some companies able to pull it off while others are looked at as a nuisance? The answer may have a lot to do with frequency and engagement.

How Retargeting Works

Retargeting is aimed specifically at people who have already seen your banner advertising or landing page. It records their visit by tracking cookie, and shows additional ads to those visitors only. It helps to build brand awareness, which would be effective when you want to make a special offer for a product you sell. Say, for example, that you offer free shipping on your products. Re-targeted banners would help customers associate your brand with free shipping, which may have significant effects for you in the long term.

The Myth of Retargeting as Effective Messaging

Many newbies come into retargeting with the belief that it is just another layer for effective display advertising. This kind of thinking is toxic to your campaigns. It leads you to overlook frequency, which designates how often a user will see your ads. Ignorance of ad frequency turns your campaign into an annoyance very quickly.

There is no magic number, but you generally don’t want to be the only thing your audience sees throughout the day. Perhaps you might test your retargeting efforts set at a lower frequency, then open new ad groups to test higher or lower frequencies.

The Reality of Retargeting as an Annoyance

The user experience is crucial, and often overlooked. Retargeting sounds really great, but anyone who has seen it firsthand has seen where it will go wrong. It can be very invasive, and may end up looking like a recorded session of the user’s browser history.


Retargeting isn’t going away, and it’s actually quite beneficial for those who understand how to utilize it. Part of that realization is paying attention to the user experience. Once you’re conscious of what users actually see, you’re more likely to make changes that make for more effective branding. Retargeting saves a lot of money on your banner advertising efforts, but it can be a frustration too. When retargeting fails, it doesn’t just lose sales. It turns customers off to your marketing efforts and makes them want to block your messaging attempts. Done properly, retargeting allows you to reach new audience members through cost-effective displays.

Bio: Ted Dhanik is the co-founder of engage:BDR, where he is responsible for helping businesses generate leads through engaging display advertising. Ted Dhanik began his marketing career engaging with users of MySpace, eventually beginning his own firm. Find out how to grow your business on mobile or desktop with tips from Ted Dhanik.

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