Digital Advertising

Retargeting vs. Remarketing: Are They Really the Same?

Retargeting vs remarketing - abstract illustration

Last Updated on: 24th May 2024, 08:59 pm

CPMs, CTRs, and AIDA. The marketing world is rife with arcane acronyms, seemingly impenetrable jargon, and even seemingly straightforward terms can have nuanced meanings. There’s no better example of this than remarketing and retargeting, both terms are often used interchangeably, even by seasoned marketing professionals, but there are subtle differences that can make the difference in the success of your marketing campaigns. 

Today, we’ll dive into the differences between remarketing vs. retargeting and shed some light on one of the big questions of the marketing world. 

In this article, you will learn:

  • The difference between retargeting and remarketing.
  • Why remarketing and retargeting work best when used together.
  • How you can leverage the same data to improve both your remarketing and retargeting strategies. 

Table of Contents:

Remarketing vs. retargeting: two ways to reach users

So many people struggle with the definition of retargeting and remarketing because they’re actually very similar. Both approaches are online marketing strategies designed to engage users who have interacted with your website or product in the past. Where they differ is how they deliver your message to those users.

Remarketing is all about connecting with users who are already in your channels. It applies whether you’re trying to re-engage your customers via emails, social media blasts, or other promotional efforts. It’s all about engaging customers in channels that you own. 

In contrast, retargeting refers explicitly to online ad placements on the open web and display ads. The primary goal is to engage customers. This can either be customers who have already converted in the past and given you contact details or customers who have previously interacted with your brand but haven’t yet converted. Retargeting is more about meeting users where they live on channels you don’t control via the open web

Remarketing Retargeting
Who is engaged? Customers that a client  already has in their own channels. Any customer who has visited the client’s website.
How are customers engaged? Through various messages sent via SMS, email, push notifications, etc. Through display ads in the Open Web.

With the initial definitions out of the way, let’s take a look at some specific differences and similarities.

#1 They use different channels of communication

The first big difference is in the channels of communication. Retargeting typically uses online ad placements on third-party sites. Whereas remarketing typically uses direct communication channels like emails or push notifications. 

As a good rule of thumb, remarketing helps you re-engage users who have previously converted via a sign-up, app download, or purchase. Retargeting is a way to reach any user, even those who have engaged with your site but have yet to give you any information that you can use to contact them directly.

#2 They use different kinds of data  

While retargeting and remarketing use data for personalization, they use different data types. Remarketing tends to rely on explicit data, like email addresses or usernames, collected from a company’s marketing efforts or provided directly by customers, for example, when they create an account after making an order. Retargeting instead relies on data gathered via tags on the client’s website and the identification of the user via stored cookies in the Open Web or other anonymized sources, which are then used to display adverts to users, or user groups, as they browse the web. In the future, brands will need to rely more heavily on cookieless solutions as Google retires third-party cookies. 

#3 They have similar levels of personalization 

Both remarketing and retargeting campaigns can be personalized, and they can even take advantage of the same data types. For example, you might choose to send an email campaign out to registered users with a new product offer based on their previous purchases (interests) while using that same data to create personalized adverts that will be used to connect with existing customers as they browse the web. 

People might wrongly assume that this makes remarketing more personalized, but in reality, some providers of retargeting, including RTB House, make use of Deep Learning-powered solutions to understand consumer preferences and allow for deeper levels of personalization than many remarketing campaigns. 

The main difference is that retargeting can also be used to connect with users who you don’t have very much data on. For example, connecting with visitors who didn’t leave any contact details is possible using personalized ads spread across the Open Web, building connections as they browse.

#4 Retargeting vs. remarketing: different types of teams

There are a lot of crossovers of skill sets between remarketing and retargeting. For example, both campaigns will benefit from talented analysts and creative specialists for banners. However, there are certain specific expertises that you will need for either type of campaign. 

For example, remarketing teams often need a solid customer relationship management team, and teams skilled in email marketing tools. Retargeting teams often deal with large complicated datasets that must be turned into useful insights. So machine learning or Deep Learning experts will be essential to develop the tools needed to accomplish a successful campaign. Furthermore, as retargeting providers operate on the Open Web, they need a solid inventory team to arrange ad-space access through SSPs integrations. This is why many companies turn to retargeting providers, such as RTB House, to boost their campaigns. 

Interestingly, while engaging more than one remarketing provider is not necessarily helpful, there are clear benefits to engaging multiple retargeting providers, even if you have your own in-house team. This is because you can take advantage of technological differences that facilitate better reach and competitive pressure between providers. When done correctly, this approach can double your campaign’s effectiveness

Guide to a Multiple Retargeting Strategy [REPORT]
This guide debunks the most popular myths regarding the multiple retargeting strategy and provides tips and best practices on how to get the most out of advertising efforts.

Retargeting vs. remarketing – which should I use? 

There is no such thing as a silver bullet in marketing. A successful marketing strategy will always require a holistic approach, and the same is true for retargeting or remarketing. Each user is unique and will respond differently to different kinds of approaches. 

Some might want to engage with a remarketing campaign that pushes promotions to their phones, while others might find this irritating and opt out. Some will be more open to engaging with a well-placed ad while browsing the web; others might simply overlook it. The key is to connect with as many users as possible, using the most appropriate channel with the most compelling messaging, to achieve your final goals. 

This brings us to the next big point.

How RTB House could be the secret weapon your company needs 

RTB House has experience in spearheading retargeting campaigns, either as a sole retargeting provider or as part of a multiple retargeting strategy. 

For example, we have developed a Deep Learning-powered solution at RTB House that gives us an edge when determining what content to display and where to display it. This approach helps us to identify what content is most likely to engage an individual user and where on the Open Web to display this content. Our algorithms can understand unstructured datasets, and they can learn on their own, rewriting rules without requiring human intervention and reprogramming. 

We have already used this to help our clients achieve and outperform their KPIs. For example, we helped the fashion brand Neiman Marcus boost conversions by 20% and exceed their campaign goals by 60%.

It’s not just web retargeting. Our team has also successfully supported our clients in an in-app environment in their re-engagement efforts. Take our work with Huuge, a leading gaming company, where we helped them boost ROAS by 3-4 times and even increased the average revenue per player by 2.6 times over the course of the campaign. 

We are confident that our approach brings significant value to any client who runs a retargeting or remarketing campaign or would like to start running one, and our team is standing by to tell you how. If you want to get started, simply head over to our contact form, and our team will begin your RTB House journey.

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