So You Thought Retargeting was Personalized


Marketing technologies and strategies are like a runaway train these days — if you blink, you’ll probably miss the latest techniques; and, if you don’t hold on for dear life, they will pass you by entirely.

The good news? It doesn’t have to be this hard. An evolving market has far more benefits than disadvantages, if only you know how to wrangle them. Personalization is just one example of this, especially within site retargeting.

Before you scratch your head and think that personalization is already in full force within site retargeting, take a step back and let me explain. I’ll walk you through the evolution, current landscape, and actionable steps you can take to truly weave personalization into your site retargeting for unmatched ROI and impact.

Understand The Evolution

Site retargeting is a powerful idea that began as something really elementary. Initially, the process went like this:

Buyer visits site. Buyer leaves. Buyer is served a relevant ad.

Simple. Basic. Effective. Of course, we quickly realized that this powerhouse needed to be let loose — cue, audience segmentation on the website. The next stage of the process went like this:

Buyer visits site. Buyer’s behavior on site is collected, including categories searched, products viewed, cart abandonment, etc. Buyer is bucketed into a segment with other buyers of similar actions. Buyer is served ads based on the bucket he/she was relegated to.

At this stage, site retargeting basically evolved from serving the same ad to everyone in the ocean to segregating the audience into smaller ponds. It made some sense, but we knew that more could be done. So, we began tapping even further into the world of personalization, and the process evolved to look like this:

Buyer visits site. Buyer is segmented into a bucket of like-buyers. Buyer is served personalized creative based on product(s) viewed, recommended products, product interaction, etc.

With this latest evolution, creative aspects were tailored to fit specific visitors’ behaviors — to very successful ends, I might add. The shortcoming? For most companies, personalization stopped there. The site retargeting train was making serious progress, but those segmented buckets we talked about earlier slammed on the brakes — hard.

If you’ve read my posts before, you’ll know that I’m a fan of unstructured data rather than segmented data. Personalization of creative is great, but there’s a huge opportunity to take it even further by treating each individual visitor as a “segment of one,” thus ensuring that bidding and optimization decisions are also personalized. And — you guessed it — that means looking at and using raw, unstructured data rather than their bucketed cousins.

Unstructured Data vs. Segments

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