Many people see retargeting as that second chance at a consumer who has strayed. This most basic and direct method of behavioral targeting, following elsewhere someone who leaves a retail site without converting, has proven enormously effective and eminently measurable. But as any surfer knows, the impact of any ad campaign, even retargeting, is not measured in direct clicks. For instance, I suspect that Netmining is hot on my trail. I can't say where, how and when an interest in ad technology triggered a cookie in my browser, but I keep seeing a suspiciously high number of ads for the retargeting company in my travels. The brand pops up in unexpected places, even way out of context or on general tech news sites. I haven't clicked through to their site lately, but the fact that I can mention their brand off the top of my head proves they are getting value from the campaign -- even without a click.
Beyond just brand awareness and raising the likelihood of later conversions, retargeting company Fetchback is out to show that these sorts of recapturing techniques also improve engagement and loyalty for the brands that use them wisely. CEO Chad Little tells me, "We're looking at the engagement rates across three different categories: recency of visits, page views per user and decrease in time between visits." A new tool from the company called Engagement A/B Reporting" will compare those who have been exposed to a retargeting campaign against a control group that has not, in order to understand the broader set of interactions retargeting can effect for a brand.
Little says that this approach gets beyond the simplistic measure of a click and immediate return to a site. For brands that may not be looking just for a lead or a sale, this gives them several metrics for understanding how a campaign affects engagement and loyalty. How often does a campaign seem to result in a person coming back to a brand and how often? And when they get there how much longer are they staying? The A/B testing is measuring returns to the brand sites that are apart from direct clicks on the retargeting ads, and the testing time frame can be expanded to any span within the length of the campaign.
Little says that the tool has already been beta tested by some clients and showed that retargeting is moving the needle on brand engagement, although he says it is too early to report on overall patterns. "Our objective is to get 25% increases," he says. In a statement from Fetchback announcing the new product, client Michael Crowdes of Boston Apparel Group and beta tester for eight weeks attests, "I can clearly see that many conversions stem from the long-term impressions made from the campaign."
Little says that broader metrics like these around retargeting can help move buyers away from the CTR. "It shows that clicks are a measurement to look at, but not the measurement. They often represent wasted dollars. You can have an ad that gets more clicks and less engagement," he argues. Some campaigns that incentivize clicks with discounts or special offers will nab traffic that is otherwise disengaged from the brand.
Thinking about the larger branding and CRM potential of retargeting raises some interesting opportunities for creative, I would think. A recent study from Baynote found that in the last holiday buying cycle, a majority of survey respondents detected they were being retargeted by retailers they had visited recently. That number may seem high, but consider that retargeting should be getting easier for us to detect. If recent developments in dynamically generated creative are taking hold, then consumers likely are getting pretty strong clues that they are being followed by merchants they have visited. I have been to news sites where an electronics vendor I recently visited serves up some of the very items I was perusing in their catalog. To paraphrase the old "Candid Camera" show and Alan Funt, it is becoming easier to catch retargeters in the act of being themselves. This is not a bad thing necessarily if the creative serves the user. One can imagine retargeting campaigns that are not at all aimed at delivering immediate sales so much as expanding a consumer's appreciation of what they were offered -- or just engaging in good will and brand building.