Remarketing is an increasingly popular online marketing technique, and one particularly favoured by PPC professionals.

Remarketing, which is also known as behavioural retargeting, behavioural remarketing or retargeting, is a form of online targeted advertising that focuses on consumers’ previous internet actions. This typically involves using a tag in the form of a pixel on the target web page, email or other online medium that sets a cookie on the consumer’s browser.

Once the cookie is set, the advertiser (you) is able to specifically create advertising for that user on relevant ad networks.

The most well-known platform is Google Adwords, however there are many ad networks that offer remarketing tracking as an option due to the incredible results it can bring.

The start of modern remarketing

So most people will tell you that Google launched remarketing in 2010, however it was actually released around 1996 when DoubleClick (also a Google product) was launched. It may not have been raved about as much then, but the Ad Exchange made use of cookies to give advertisers the power to target people who had already visited their sites and help bring them back.

In 2010, Google did release what is now more commonly known as remarketing, and since then the capability of remarketing has grown exponentially as has the uptake by PPC professionals.

Why is this? Well, the fundamental reason is that remarketing focuses on ‘Return on Investment’ (ROI) tactics. It gives back volumes of useful data to make your campaigns more efficient and cost effective compared to the traditional marketing model of volume and ‘hoping’ for results.

Originally, remarketing tools just allowed you to create ads that were targeted to anyone who had visited your site or app depending on where you had placed your pixel. However, we are now able to employ much more advanced targeting, singling out specific actions within a website or app and ring-fencing appropriate users to ensure we are providing relevant ads to those who are ready to see them.

With great power comes great responsibility

If knowledge is power, then remarketing may very well be one of the most powerful marketing strategies on the planet.

Because of this, the global community has paid it a lot of attention and although not many laws have actually been passed to monitor remarketing, the industry as a whole is heavily involved in protecting the information of users and preventing abuse.

The ‘Personalised Advertising Policy’ ensures that companies cannot gather Personally Identifiable Information (PII). Its purpose is to protect consumers from being abused or misled by advertisers so it’s important for those in the healthcare sector to thoroughly understand the specifics – I’ll explain it in more detail down the line.

So what information is available to us and what can we do with it?

You do not have access to details such as gender, age or exact location of any one user. This, as I said above, is to protect the consumers from abuse or misleading content.

What you do have access to, however, is accurate data on groups of users who are being tracked by your cookies. Networks get around the PII data gathering by not giving you access to any details until the user base typically reaches around 1,000 users. This is true for both Google Adwords and Facebook.

Once you reach this threshold, the networks can start to tell you what percentage of people are in a particular age group or location, and typically what the gender split is.

This in itself is very powerful information. However, more advanced networks such as Google and Facebook that do their own tracking have pixels all over the internet including in your browser, and can tell us more about our tracked users.

Again we won’t get exact details, but we will receive enough data to effectively act on. For example, if a large percentage of our users are actively looking to buy a car, then Google will tell us that our audience meets the profile of ‘In Market > Cars, Vans and Automobiles’. If a high percentage of users are also reading car reviews and related articles, and have expressed interest over a significant period of time, then they may also be classified as ‘Affinity > Cars, Vans and Automobiles’.

The key difference between the two audiences here is that while one shows an ‘interest’, the other is identified as being potential imminent ‘buyers’ of cars, vans and automobiles. You can choose to separate these audiences and provide advertising appropriate to their current interests. Something that could be very handy for a used-car salesman, maybe?

It doesn’t just stop there; you can learn more about how your users are actually visiting your website or app by device. For example, if you realise that 90% of your traffic comes from mobile devices, then you know to tailor all your advertising more towards mobile devices than desktop since that’s where your audiences lies.

Such information means you can target your advertising thereby reducing the spend on wasted campaigns which have tried to reach out to audiences who don’t fit your target profile. You therefore concentrate spend where your audiences do sit, like on mobile devices.

What should I do next?

If you’re interested in remarketing and think you’re ready to take advantage of it or just want to understand it better for your network, then please follow this link.

Remarketing in the healthcare industry

It is worth mentioning at this point that remarketing in the healthcare sector is a challenge. The main reason for this is because of the vast amount of products within the industry that may require the current personal circumstances of any one user. Since the main objective of a healthcare product is to change or help to change a user’s current state in some way, it is commonly seen as a breach of the Personalised Advertising Policy.

It’s true it can be a bit of a minefield, but it is possible to work within the rules when running a remarketing campaign. If you find yourself stuck and not sure how to get around it, then please do reach out to us and we will provide help in fighting policy battles, improving understanding and working within the system.