Deep LearningDigital Advertising

Does Retargeting Still Work In 2022?

Illustrating doubts whether retargeting still works

If you’ve landed here, you’re probably one of many professionals trying to answer the question: is retargeting effective? You might even be asking yourself whether retargeting is dead. Marketers have been worried about the viability of retargeting for some time, and many believe that the elimination of third-party tracking cookies could be the final nail in the coffin for retargeting as a strategy. 

This article will help you understand whether retargeting has a place in your marketing playbook, and if so, how you can most effectively leverage a strategy that will work now, and in the cookieless future. 

Key takeaways: 

  • There are methods that marketers can use to reduce the costs associated with retargeting.
  • Clever creatives can help to reduce ad fatigue and increase engagement during retargeting campaigns.
  • Deep Learning can help ensure that retargeting brings value to both customers and marketers. 
  • The retirement of third-party cookies should resolve retargeting privacy concerns. 

Table of contents

What is retargeting anyway?

Retargeting is an advertising technique that allows a brand to show customers ads based on their previous online behavior, purchase intentions, or anticipated needs. It is particularly popular in the e-commerce space, but also has a number of uses in other industries. 

The way it works is reasonably simple. For example, a user might visit an online travel agency and search for a few destinations in the Mediterranean. We now know that this user wants to book a holiday, and roughly know where and when they’re looking. That travel agency can now use this information to display ads to encourage that customer to return, and book their holiday. If you want a more in-depth dive on retargeting, check out this guide

Retargeting is a powerful tool, but marketers have three big concerns: ad fatigue, privacy, and the retirement of third-party tracking cookies.  

Does retargeting cause ad fatigue? 

Ad fatigue is a hot button issue, and rightly so. Users have become increasingly frustrated with generic ads, and 55% of users said they felt apathetic towards ads, with just 11% of customers reporting that they enjoy ads.

Retargeting is often, somewhat unfairly, singled out as a major cause of ad fatigue. Marketers believe that users are shown the same creative too often, or may even be bombarded with ads that they don’t care about because of a single search. 

We’ve all been there. You searched for a new bike online, and you’re now hounded with ads for new bikes. Mountain bikes, race bikes, green bikes, blue bikes, bikes of every variety stalk you across the web like a wolf hunting a deer, just waiting for you to convert. The thing is, you already bought your bike, so now you’re looking for accessories instead! 

This isn’t just frustrating for you (and expensive for the advertiser!), but the sudden bombardment of eerily similar ads makes you wonder just how much information these advertisers have on you. 

Which brings us to our next question…

Is retargeting bad for user privacy? 

This is a question that many marketers would prefer to avoid. The truth is that traditional retargeting does rely heavily on leveraging unique user data in order to make decisions. This data helps keep ads more relevant, but it can sometimes have the opposite effect on users. Indeed, 3 in 4 adults are worried about how advertisers are using their private data. 

The concern for marketers is that aggressive retargeting reminds users that their data is being used by advertisers, and it can turn them off by appearing a little creepy. This problem is beginning to resolve itself as the industry moves away from third-party tracking cookies, but this could create problems of its own! 

Could the end of third-party cookies kill retargeting?

Google has announced plans to eliminate third-party tracking cookies. This is viewed as a problem for retargeting providers, as third-party cookies are considered an essential way to gather the user data necessary to perform retargeting. As they are phased out, many marketers are worried that retargeting will be rendered ineffective. 

Is retargeting expensive? 

These three aforementioned concerns combined make many marketers worry that retargeting is not a good return on investment. You’re sending out ads to users who might not be interested in them, and could be damaging your brand through either ad fatigue, or by reminding users that their data is being used. 

The problem is that by not using retargeting, you miss out on opportunities to convert customers. Fortunately, RTB House has devised a way for you to get the best out of retargeting, without the downsides.  

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Retargeting works best when combined with Deep Learning 

If we boil these problems down to their essence, we have two challenges to overcome: reducing the frequency of generic advertisements, while improving the accuracy of our targeting. Solving these challenges will reduce ad fatigue, and increase the likelihood that users are seeing ads that are actually relevant to their needs in a specific moment. 

The key to our approach is to combine cutting edge Deep Learning technology with dynamic creatives built by industry-leading designers. Deep Learning is an advanced form of machine learning, capable of understanding complicated datasets and determining real insights. You can learn more in this video

This approach enables us to overcome the downsides of retargeting, and make it one of the best investments your business can make. 

To understand how it works, let’s go back to the bicycle scenario from earlier. 

You’ve already purchased your bike, and now you’ve begun to start reading articles about the best bike lock, cycling routes in your town, and bike safety. With Deep Learning, we can understand that this means you’re in the market for a new bike lock, and that you’re safety conscious, so likely want a helmet as well. 

The design team has already prepared a wide variety of creatives, and the advert showcases a great bike helmet that you’ll love. Since we also know you’re in the market for a lock, the ad includes an offer for a bundle that includes a bike lock at a discounted price alongside the helmet, if you purchase through a specific e-commerce site. 

This is great because it allows you to understand users, which increases the chance that they will convert on the first or second ad. This reduces ad fatigue, and makes ads more intrinsically valuable to the end-user.

This means more clicks, more conversions, and a better value for you. You can even set a specific performance goal, like CPA or CPS, and we will design the campaign to deliver it. 

What about tracking cookies? RTB House has always been a privacy-first company, and has been actively involved in the creation of better alternatives to tracking cookies. We were the first DSP to actively use Google’s Privacy Sandbox, and we are a leading company that supports legitimate advertising use cases while respecting user privacy. You can learn more in the Cookieless World section, where we explain the latest cookieless updates. 

Proof that Deep Learning-powered retargeting really works

Hopefully we’ve answered any concerns about the effectiveness of retargeting, but just in case, we’d like to show you some hard evidence. RTB House has been a leading provider of retargeting services for nearly ten years now. We’ve ran many successful campaigns, and have a number of case studies demonstrating the positive impact that retargeting campaigns can bring: 

  • Growth for gaming companies: Huuuge – RTB House was able to become Huuuge’s preferred retargeting provider in just three months by overdelivering on key metrics like D7 ROAS, volume, and retention rate.
  • Boosts for fashion brands: Peter Hahn – By using clever retargeting combined with great creatives, RTB House helped boost luxury retailer Peter Hahn’s order volume by 16%.
  • Sales for office equipment: OfficeMate – RTB House helped boost OfficeMate’s on-site conversion rate to 6.5%, up from 3%, while keeping ROI at 900% with a major retargeting campaign. 

If you’d like to discuss how we can help your company take advantage of retargeting to boost their marketing efforts, reach out to us today and discuss retargeting opportunities for your company with our experts.

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