When search retargeting was new a few years ago, marketers everywhere were excited about the concept. As a new audience acquisition solution, the ability to tie an advertising campaign back to a specific data set that declared a user’s intent, this was a refreshing breakthrough.
At the time, of course, few online marketers even understood search retargeting, let alone used it. Yet, as word of its power spread, more and more users adopted it until there was a stampede of ad networks and DSPs eager to include search retargeting among their offerings.
There’s nothing new about this. It’s what business gurus call the “law of comparative advantage” — as soon as someone sets up a profitable lemonade stand, another person sets up another across the street offering a different flavor, followed by yet another contender offering snacks, and so on.
Keyword-Level Search Retargeting Vs. Keyword-Only Segments
Unfortunately, just as in our lemonade stand analogy, these new converts were not actually mirroring the original tool. Instead of practicing true keyword-level search retargeting, most were employing keyword-only data sets packaged into traditional audience segments. Legacy companies that already had revenues in the display business went to their data brokers and asked for audience segments built exclusively from searched keywords from their publisher network.
As a result of these keyword-only audience segments, one of the most effective behavioral targeting solutions in recent history — capable of generating significant performance lift for direct response and branding campaigns alike — became awash in misunderstandings.
Many of the marketers who’ve tried what they believe to be search retargeting are underwhelmed and cynical about its reach because they haven’t been exposed to a technology that views and manages keywords as they were intended. They have not leveraged keywords the way search marketers always have — one keyword at a time at the keyword level.
Collective misperceptions aside, the truth is that search retargeting can deliver unparalleled precision and insight.