The Most Frequently Asked Questions In Search Retargeting

Since we first brought true Search Retargeting to the market several years ago, we have seen a shift in the questions that prospects want answers to. Two years ago, the market was fuelled by excitement and intrigue, ‘how does it work?’, ‘how much does it cost?’ and ‘how do we get started?’.

But driven in part by imitators confusing buyers, the questions have become much more sophisticated, and as we continue to move along the adoption curve, this will likely continue.

Beyond the basics, there are 7 questions that are most commonly asked of us:

  • Where do you get the search data?
  • What effect does Google SLL have?
  • How does this differ from site retargeting / remarketing?
  • Who buys this – the search team or the display team?
  • Isn’t Search Retargeting just for direct response?
  • Can it scale?
  • What type of keywords should I use?

Where Do You Get The Search Data?

This is the one area that people unfamiliar have the most confusion with. As a general rule, vendors work with a number of different sources, dependent on what they find to have been effective.

At Chango, we prefer the use of primary event data – this is otherwise thought of as ‘referrer’ data and can be captured when an individual has performed a search on Google, Yahoo or Bing and then landed on another site. The receiving site can see the referral URL and therefore the search term that was just used.

There are partnerships in place that financially compensate those site owners for firing code and helping that data be captured, and the practice is compliant with the standards of the NAI.

Other sources vary – there is toolbar data that captures searches as they occur through a co-branded toolbar, there are ‘tier 3’ search engines more than willing to monetize their inventory and other forms of software.

Not all data is created equal, and so the trick is to analyze what works in each situation and use that source.

What Effect Does Google SSL Have?

Some, but nothing dramatic. I am sure anyone in the Search Retargeting business would prefer they didn’t make this decision, but the impact on data has been relatively negligible, and nothing that impacts the scale of campaigns.

How Does This Differ From Site Retargeting / Remarketing?

It surprises me that this still gets raised so much, but as a micro-industry, we also have to take responsibility for such a terrible product name

In short, site retargeting (or site remarketing) is about showing display ads to those individuals who have visited your site and then left. They are your existing visitors, and maybe even your existing customers. Site retargeting has a lot of value, but let’s be clear, that value is in generating additional revenue from an audience you have already paid to generate.

Conversely, Search Retargeting is a prospecting tool (when done right). Its goal should be about findingnew individuals who have not yet visited your site.

If that is understood then it should be clear that site and search retargeting are not competing with each other at all, they are in fact complimentary and can / should be run together. Search Retargeting should bring you the brand new people, and site retargeting is there to ensure they convert if they wander off from the purchase funnel.

Useful to help understand these distinctions further is the ‘7 types of retargeting‘ inforgraphic, as well as the Retargeting Exposed white paper.

Who Buys This – The Search Team Or The Display Team?

Great question, and one that we got a bit wrong in the early days! The thinking was Search Retargeting would be ideal for the SEM folks; it is based on keywords, it uses new future of RTB (real time bidding) that many of us think search marketers could dominate, and was performance driven.

The reality is that Search Retargeting is fundamentally a display buy, and there remain mental barriers in the minds of search marketers that seem a sticking point.

Approximately 80% of our business comes from display buyers (split between agencies and direct clients), and 20% from SEM teams. Both types of buyers behave very similar in each group, but if anything, the display buyers tend to have a shorter buying cycle and bigger budgets because they already own budget for ‘banners’.

Isn’t Search Retargeting Just For Direct Response?

No, no and no… Again, as an industry we have to take responsibility for the naming – putting ‘retargeting’, or even ‘search’ in anything immediately makes marketers think of direct response.

But think about how Search Retargeting actually works – like any form of behavioral media buy, it is about defining appropriate audiences by their attributes.

When buying from a premium network this is often demographic or psychographic, when buying from a direct site it is about who they are for being on that site; with Search Retargeting, it is about the interests and needs they have based on what they are actually telling you what that is.

Brand buyers have woken up to this in a big way – why invest $250k on a takeover with 40% wastage, or a premium placement with an uncertain outcome, when you can find the right people to influence at a quarter of the cost! The early adopters are winning big, the rest will come in time.

Can It Scale?

Yes thankfully, otherwise, I am packing up and going back to England! In the early days scale was limited by both access to data and access to media. Both of these problems were overcome a long while back in the evolution, and there are several retailers signing off more than $1.5m a quarter.

From a media perspective being tied into all the media exchanges is a big advantage, and grants access to over 90% of the population. And RTB is only at 20% of digital media buying today, set to rise to 50% over the next 3 years, and so the opportunity only grows.

The media quality has changed too – it is no longer the remnant no one wants, it is all media.

What Types Of Keywords Should I Use?

This very much depends on your goals. The primary categories we see are:

  • Current PPC keyword list (which will usually cover all product and category terms)
  • Head terms that have been optimized out of PPC because of cost
  • SEO wish list
  • Competitor brand and product terms

What If I Have Another Question Not Answered Here?

Feel free to ask it in the comments section below, it is great to have open dialogue right here, or you can contact me directly with anything specific or confidential.

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 Strategy Officer at Chango, the solution to programmatic marketing and "big data", and is based in San Francisco and London. You can follow him on Twitter @DaxHamman.

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