Luckily, real-time bidding (RTB) offers the perfect tool for detecting these transitions as they're happening and serving up display impressions instantly. That tool is known as Search Retargeting, and it's turning RTB into a much more sophisticated form of marketing.
Let's look at a straightforward example: It’s extremely important for diaper marketers to know when a woman is expecting a new baby. If they can get new parents to choose their brand of diapers by offering discounts or free samples, there’s a good chance those parents will be steady customers for the next three or so years – and diapers aren’t cheap.
But how, exactly, do marketers know when a woman is pregnant? One of the best ways is to look at the keywords she’s searching for online. If a woman is searching for information about pregnancy and newborns, she’s giving a strong signal that she may be pregnant. And the strength of this signal is what makes Search Retargeting such a uniquely effective from of display advertising.
Unlike Site Retargeting, which some people still think is the beginning and end of RTB, Search Retargeting serves display ads to users based on the searches they’ve conducted on Google, Yahoo, Bing and other sites. In other words, Search Retargeting is powered by the signals of intent we reveal whenever we preform an online search. And because it doesn't rely on existing site visitors, Search Retargeting allows brands to target entirely new customers.
Let's look at Search Retargeting in action. To return to the diapers example, after a woman searches “pregnancy vitamins,” on Google, she will likely browse another site that is serving displays ads via an RTB exchange. The diaper marketer has already placed a bid to serve impressions to people who have searched for "pregnancy vitamins" -- perhaps restricting the bid to women from specific demographics. So, the woman has revealed that she's entering a lifestage transition, and, thanks to the power of real-time bidding, she has seen a targeted display ad only moments later. The diaper marketer who placed this ad is instantly in the lead in the race to acquire a valuable new customer.
Each lifestage transition tends to come with its accompanying search terms. If someone searches for retirement homes, you, of course, want to serve them display ads for products and services targeted to the elderly. Pain relief brands, for example, might be wise to run Search Retargeting campaigns that serve displays to individuals searching for retirement homes. Likewise, a search for engagement rings allows marketers to target consumers not just for wedding-related products and services but also for the many different things that tend to be purchased by newly engaged couples.
If any of this sounds surprising, it shouldn't. Search marketers have understood the power of these search signals for years. After all, there's a reason Google is worth so many billions. Search Retargeting is the RTB's chance to take advantage of search signals. And when it comes to signals, lifestage transitions are the first ones to watch for.