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How Retargeting Almost Ruined Christmas

We are in the final countdown to Christmas, and my holiday shopping is pretty much winding down. I am not the procrastinating type, and I like to get the shopping over and done with as painlessly as possible. So in recent years, online shopping has aided this pain-free mission and served as my best friend. Right after Thanksgiving I begin my online shopping bonanza and start searching for the best deals, find free shipping, and compare and contrast wishlist items across a variety of sites—hands down the best and easiest way to get this Christmas thing done!

What I didn’t think about as I was trolling these sites was that so many more companies are now using Retargeting as a tool, and, of course, why wouldn’t they, especially at this time of year! I should have thought of this, because as a marketer I know that the single best way to bring a previous visitor back to your site is by Retargeting them. It’s like magic: simply put a little piece of code on your site, and based on where and what I’m browsing (down to the very pair of black boots)—and tah-dah!—those boots can be served up as an online ad to me later.

Let’s step away from the e-commerce holiday shopping thing for a minute and think about the opportunity Retargeting has for your .edu site. Based on where a prospective student goes on your site, you can serve up ads to them later that directly relate to where they had previously visited. Talk about relevancy! If a student visits a graduate admission page, chances are they are a prospective grad student, so you could deliver ads later that talk specifically about your graduate school. Or if someone is visiting your financial aid page, you might serve up ads that talk about pending financial aid deadlines, scholarships, or other related messaging. Bucketing your audience is key to driving the right message based on where and what pages a prospective student may have visited. And take into consideration you can easily control and limit the number of ad impressions delivered so your Retargeting campaign will be more of a gentle reminder than a hammer over the head to buy those shoes!

So now back to Christmas and how Retargeting ruined the surprise. Here I was, surfing the Internet on our family-shared iPad, scouring for the best deals on a camera for my husband. What I didn’t think about is that those Nikon Retargeting ads (thank you, Ritz Camera and Best Buy) would be served up later to my husband as he used our iPad. And it didn’t take long for my husband, who is also a marketer, to know exactly what I was after and ultimately what will appear under the Christmas tree. 

But upon the realization of my oversight, I decided to turn this Retargeting surprise spoiler into an opportunity for me! I carefully hit my own wish list online to ensure that ads for that pair of awesome leather boots would also appear next time he is checking ESPN. And so when a Zappos box arrived a few days ago (which I pretended not to see) I thought, mission accomplished! Thank you, Zappos, for being the remarketer you are!

You can follow me on Twitter @adpoulin

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