Measuring Brand Engagement Through Retargeting


ADOTAS – It’s widely accepted that engagement is one of the more prevalent methods for measuring success when it comes to advertisers building brand awareness and establishing a stronger relationship with their customers. While retargeting has grown into one of the most productive tools for online marketers to drive sales, an important question is how to measure success when utilizing retargeting as a tool to increase engagement.

When retargeting first came on the scene, networks would typically lump campaigns in with other run-of-network buys and category-based creative: single, flat, non-rich creative was delivered to a narrow audience with no attention to frequency caps. Today’s process is much more sophisticated for ecommerce sites and, therefore, more effective: dynamic ads delivered to highly targeted consumers that drive significant sales.

The same early use of retargeting is now being seen with brand awareness campaigns. The efficacy of retargeting for ecommerce really requires its own set of campaigns and success metrics and the same is true for using the discipline to building brand awareness.

Advertiser profiles

So, how might we measure the effectiveness of retargeting in creating incremental engagement? I propose that success could come in two forms for two different types of brand advertisers:

1) For advertisers who are not providing a reason for the consumer to visit their site again. This could be due to a lack of promotions or content to drive them back. Success is typically measured by creating additional engagements in an ad unit.

Rich content, calls for interaction with social tools, promotions in the ad are all effective ways to do this, but a well-run retargeting program works to reach the entire lost prospect pool at the right frequency caps, right time of day, geo-location, etc. Success is then measured by creating the highest amount of ad engagements at a targeted cost per.

2) For advertisers that want to drive interaction with the brand and increase the engagement on the site itself. Advertisers who have significant content and offer reasons to return to the site fit this model well.

Automotive manufacturers, for instance, are ideal for this form of success measurement. Most car makers want consumers to continually drill down into the site and offer them opportunities to modify/create the exact car they want. In order to determine success, these advertisers must identify how to measure if these are incremental engagements.

Research determines incremental success

This second group – those advertisers that have a lot of content and offer reasons to return to the site – would be well served to use A/B testing to measure if sophisticated retargeting programs can achieve this engagement.

Controls groups are established to understand the average number of pageviews a prospect creates, how often they visit the site and the length of time between visits. Once a retargeting program begins, advertisers can measure the increases to the metrics.

Successfully increasing the number of pageviews and visits while decreasing the time between visits are both excellent ways to understand if the brand is achieving its objective.

Giving retargeting a seat at the measurement table

Marketers would not consciously choose to take their email database and send untargeted campaigns without paying attention to frequencies. Retargeting is no different.

Each advertiser has a finite number of consumers that have chosen to take time out of their day to engage with the brand. Running basic retargeting programs that deliver flat creative to the same people hundreds of times in a given month is likely to damage a brand far beyond the consumers seeing the ad units.

Retargeting campaigns that have their own focus and specific metrics can help to ensure success for both ecommerce and brand building initiatives.





  1. […] Display capping – know your limits! by Amy on August 3, 2011 So I’m going to Bristol for the August Bank holiday. Why not? I have lovely friends there and my favourite DJs are playing at the skate park featured in Skins. Awesome – a chance to feel young again! You probably wonder why I’m telling you this… it’s only a friendly intro into a bit of a rant. Wanting to avoid the £40 rip-off at Paddington ticket fail (that fella and I have probably wasted so much money on that we could probably now tout olympic tickets) I decided to be organised and *gasp* pre-book our trains using something called an advance fare. The only problem with this is me being me, I became distracted and wandered off to do other things… As a result of said distraction I now have an internet stalker; let me introduce you to him: everywhere I go within this Display Network, he follows. Working in the field I do, I can tell you that are retargeting me. Here’s the how: They do this by dropping a cookie on my computer when I visit them. Lots of websites do this; usually to remember your preferences and suchlike. Most of us don’t mind this in itself. But by enabling cookies we don’t always s realise that some are for our benefit, and others are for that of the advertisers. In this case Google is collecting data about the number of unique visitors to a website or page within a site in order to improve conversion (sales). Here’s the why: The idea is that could drop different cookies; one saying I’m a visitor and some saying I’m a purchaser. Smart retailers might segment the audience; using these cookies to only target those who didn’t buy anything. Others like AllSaints and TedBaker (in my personal experience) don’t do this, AllSaints showed me a pair of shoes I actually bought for about three months afterwards, which, I suppose, helped me tire of them more easily. I was soon ready to buy new ones… but not from AllSaints and I’m not sure that was their real goal! So with I have been capricious, distracted and have ultimately made the cardinal sin of browsing and not buying. I had thought the internet made that ok as there are no grumpy and frowning shop managers staring at you. WRONG! That perk of the net was short lived. know about my naughty noncommittal browsing and will follow me until I cave in and buy. Who knows they might target me forever even if shop tomorrow! Knowing me by the time I do get round it there will probably be no advance fares left and I’ll have been stalked to no benefit. This stalking in itself isn’t the real problem. There is one thing I haven’t told you about Display ads just yet, which is in fact the biggest factor of Display annoyance… There will be advertisers who target you, because you visited/bought/didn’t buy who knows! On Facebook it could even be due to things you typed in your status. My question: what is the main factor that makes you notice this advertiser behaviour/stalking? It is really obvious – the number of times you see that ad in a given period. If an advertiser is displaying their ads an unlimited amount it is going to get very annoying. When they are targeting you it will become extremely obvious – on par with stalking. The ad will always be there when you are within that advertisers network. Advertisers who limit the amount of times an individual user sees their ad in a given period are far less annoying. Even if they are retargeting you, if they only serve five times a day you will probably only notice it the 3rd or 4th time. This means the targeted ads rotate between the other ads that you would have been shown anyway. This is a more gentle approach, which I would definitely advocate because it should minimise any brand damage caused by the backlash of “stalked” users! Since retargeting was introduced friends who are aware of my area of work have come up to me to talk about this. They come quietly in a voice usually reserved for discussions of a far more personal and interesting nature, proceeding to ask if they are indeed somehow being targeted. Maybe I’m oblivious to the type of targeting they are being subjected to, but once I confirm it is indeed true, they are normally a bit annoyed and ask how to turn it off – which is no real benefit to anyone. The advertisers lose their high ROI opportunities, and you go back to un-targeted and (in my opinion) far more annoying (no, I don’t want a boob job or a buggy, but thanks) Display ads. Why do we Display target at all? Of course it’s to improve sales, and grow your brand but it’s actually a real risk to run bad Display targeting and damage your brand. You don’t want to deter customers altogether; I love AllSaints probably more than anyone I know; but they managed to traumatise me with my own shoes! iMedia have found similar retargeting negativity and propensity to damage brand in their survey: “Fifty-eight percent of holiday shoppers recalled experiencing retargeting… Fifty-four percent of shoppers said they felt that this season’s surge of retargeting was an invasion of their privacy, with 48 percent saying retargeting turns them off of retailers.” Chad Little of Adotas agrees saying retargeting should be properly measured. […]


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