How To Combine Search Retargeting & Keyword Contextual Targeting To Reach More In Market Searchers

In the world of online advertising, sometimes two effective targeting techniques are even more effective when used together.

Search retargeting is a highly effective targeting technique that has been attracting lots of buzz lately. Using search retargeting leading brands and agencies around the world are deploying successful display campaigns targeting online consumers based on search behavior.

Search retargeting has been hailed as a major leap forward in both reach and effectiveness for search marketers and display marketers alike. Traditional paid search conversion rates are typically less than 5%, but search retargeting has given marketers the ability to continue the conversation with the other 95% through relevant display ads across thousands websites while maintaining the same keyword level bidding and optimization control search marketers have spent years mastering.

On the other side, display marketing professionals are utilizing search retargeting as a smarter, more transparent behavioral targeting technique with high conversion rates. Search Retargeting also offers significantly more element-level insight into consumer intent than the pre-built data segments historically made available.

While search retargeting is highly effective, it does not address the increasing number of users whoare navigatingdirectly to websites. The millions of consumers actively searching for products, services and topics across a vast array of specialized publisher sites without leaving a keyword breadcrumb trail. Leading websites spend millions of dollars increasing direct navigation and building links to landing pages in an effort to bypass search engines all together.

Why The Focus On Direct Navigation?

Direct navigation users translate into sales. Direct navigation offers high conversion rates, as the user is alreadyOpportunity for Search Marketers entwined  in the consumer purchase decision process. According to a study performed by WebsideStory’s StatMarket division, direct navigation traffic converts into sales for advertisers at a rate of 4.23% of total visits.

Take travel for instance.  Has anyone on the planet not been exposed to TV commercials for sites such as Kayak, Expedia and Travelocity? Looking for a hotel for that upcoming vacation to Maui? That search likely isn’t going to begin on Google.

In many ways, increased spend in direct navigation only strengthens the case for search retargeting. A great deal of the data accessed by search retargeting companies is coming from the specialized search taking place on second tier search engines and the publisher sites themselves.

However, there are at least two compelling examples of why many ideal customers never perform a search at all.

First, high performing websites and technology providers continue to improve website consumer experience and conversion rates through enhancements in on-site navigation, predictive content modeling and recommendation engine generated content.

Thus, more consumers can reach their destination and complete their transactions without engaging in a search at all. They, for example land on the travel site, click on the hotel tab, click on the conveniently placed link for Hawaiian destinations and two drop down menus later the investigation is complete. Good luck reaching the millions of consumers like this who evade your search retargeting radar.

Second, for millions of in market searchers, when a keyword search is completed your window for influencing the destination and transaction may already be lost. The customer has already visited a trusted website to research, participated in a online discussion group, reviewed a trusted blog or more. For example, individuals in market to buy laptops, cell phones, and televisions can visit trusted websites to review product recomm

endations and reviews. These sites are easy to navigate with simple product and brand drop down menus. Think sites such as CNET, Consumer Reports, Popular Mechanics and Wired. After performing research a consumer may perform a search, thus opting them into your search retargeting display, unfortunately no matter how recent the search, your ability to influence this consumer’s decision has been diminished.  If only you could have captured their intent sooner.

Combining Keyword Contextual Targeting With Search Retargeting

This is where a well defined and executed keyword contextual campaign deployed along side a keyword search retargeting campaign may complete the picture, leading to significantly more in market searchers and ultimately more conversions.

Traditional contextual targeting has long been available on a category basis. By evaluating a webpage or URL, site text, language, link structure, page structure or other elements; consumers are shown display ads on a webpage that has a basic theme relevant to your product or services.

Results for category contextual have varied degrees of effectiveness.  However, just as keyword search retargeting strengthened behavioral targeting data efforts; so will the evolution of keyword based contextual targeting.

Keyword Contextual Targeting provides more precise control and deeper insights as it enables advertisers to leverage their keyword segment building expertise and optimization skills to pinpoint the pages with display ads utilizing exact match targeting. Marketers can bid, report and optimize with a high level of granularity.

For example, you may be targeting consumers researching a new smartphone purchase.  With keyword level transparency you may quickly learn that “Android OS Cell Phone” or a wide range of competitor specific product terms are five times more profitable than the keyword, “Android”.

You can now build specific keyword segments and bidding strategies to reach searchers who are on webpages in which those lower funnel keywords appear regardless of any keyword search performed.

Combine a well executed keyword contextual display campaign concurrently with a high performing keyword search retargeting display campaign and you have a more complete recipe to reach more searchers, more often, more effectively.

Looking Ahead

Leveraging intent based keyword data in display will continue to grow and evolve. Much like site retargeting, there is little doubt that the adoption of search retargeting will lead to more companies viewing this display channel as a line item in their marketing budget.

The ability to further expand keyword targeting with contextual display will allow brands to engage ideal in market searchers in a conversation earlier in the decision making process, resulting in more conversions and a far more complete long term strategy.

Opinions expressed in the article are those of the guest author and not necessarily Search Engine Land.

Related Topics: Channel: Display | Search & Display


About The Author: is the Chief Revenue Officer for, a company quickly being recognized as the authority in search retargeting. Since the mid 90’s James has been involved in leading companies who are paving new paths in digital space.

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  • Ross Bradley

    How about an incredible, 9.84% of engagement? –

  • Hm Adnan

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