An In-Depth Comparison of Remarketing and Retargeting Services

A customer steps into your shop, inquires about a particular product, and then leaves without buying. You know there’s a potential sale, and there’s every chance that person will be buying a similar product sooner rather than later.

How would you like to send some of your sales people to follow that visitor, reminding them of your business wherever they go? In fact, reminding them to the extent that your business/brand is the first and only name that comes to mind when they are about to make a purchase?

Sounds like an insane idea in the real world. Even if your sales staff doesn’t get beaten up for stalking, the cost alone would make it impossible to pull off.

But that’s exactly what remarketing (a/k/a retargeting) services enable you to do in the online world.

Remarketing is great for many reasons. For example:

  • Reduced cost per impression
  • Better conversion rates
  • Improved ROI
  • Precise targeting
  • Cost effective branding

It’s no wonder remarketing has been taking the online world by storm.

But… It just seems so difficult, so hard to understand and set up.

Is it?

Reeeeallly?

Truth be told, setting up a killer remarketing campaign is surprisingly easy. As long as you understand the basics, there are great remarketing platforms out there ready to help you smash your ROI targets. These platforms take care of all of the technicals, like leaving a cookie to earmark visitors, monitoring their behavior, making guesses about their intent, or working with a “display network” or “Real Time Bidding exchange.” Pretty cool, really, because they leave you more time to work on strategy and branding while they handle all of the technicalities.

Let’s dive in and take a look at some of the main platforms you can use.

AdRoll

Adroll

AdRoll has been providing various online advertising options to businesses for more than five years, but they are best known for their retargeting plans. And while it’s not always a testimony to the efficacy of a service, with companies like Moz, Levi’s, Red Vines, and Salesforce using the platform, you can think they must be doing something right.

  • AdRoll works with advertising partners like Facebook Exchange, Google, Yahoo, and Microsoft, allowing you to reach 98% of sites on the Internet.
  • Speaking of ROI, AdRoll retargeting customers earn $10 for every $1 spent on average. (At least that’s what they claim on their website.)
  • The guys at AdRoll are really good at advance targeting techniques, like customer segmentation, geo targeting, and more. Using their platform, you can target or exclude site visitors based on their actions, create groups of users based on purchase intent (like adding a product to a shopping cart), and set up advanced conversion tracking rules. Check out the image below to see a quick snapshot of this in action:

Adroll advanced segmentation

Customer Segmentation – AdRoll

  • AdRoll makes retargeting quite simple with features like easy-to-read analytics. And for sites with over 60k uniques per month, they also offer their Liquid Ads service. LiquidAds enables advertisers to personalize each impression based on the product pages that an individual user visits.

Adroll Liquid Ads

The image above shows the dynamic elements of an AdRoll LiquidAd. Each element can be tailored depending on your targeting preference.

  • AdRoll is an official Facebook partner and provides one of the best and easiest-to-use platforms for customer retargeting on Facebook, especially the news feed ads.

Facebook Newsfeed Ads

A Facebook Newsfeed ad powered by AdRoll. Yep – AdRoll can remarket to your potential customers who left your site and went to check Facebook.

  • Setting up a Facebook news feed campaign is quite simple. All you need to do is choose your weekly budget, schedule, targeted locations, and max CPM bid. Then select your visitor segments. Your ads will start appearing in their news feed. The ads will start showing to anyone who has been cookied on your website, regardless of whether they liked or interacted with your Facebook fan page. The ads will start showing in the person’s news feed simply because they visited your website in the past and you have targeted them in your ad campaign. Pretty cool!

5-AdroFacebook News Feed Image

  • AdRoll has good transparent pricing and solid customer support, both in terms of responsiveness and level of expertise.

AdRoll in a nutshell: Easily the frontrunner when it comes to retargeting platforms. While it is a little on the pricey side, the service and ease of their platform make it worth your marketing dollars.

Chango

Changon

Chango Body Image

Chango specializes in search retargeting (though they are offering site retargeting solutions as well). Search retargeting doesn’t require a potential customer to visit your website before your ads start appearing on their screens. Instead, customer interest and relevancy are decided by a recent search they performed on Google, Yahoo, or Bing.

So, if someone performs a search for a product/service on a search engine and lands on a website that is part of Chango’s data network, Chango will earmark the user and let you advertise to that user with a customized ad promoting relevant products and services.

  • Chango has a massive network of data partners. You will get access to more than 8 billion search events and search data from Google, Bing, and Yahoo, which means you also can get some great keyword ideas or suggestions.
  • You will get a dedicated account manager, meaning you won’t have to waste countless hours trying to set up, optimize, or manage your campaigns.
  • You can target customers from some of the best markets like US, UK, and Canada.
  • Chango has certain indicators and scores allowing you to assess each visitor according to what they do before, during, and after visiting your website. They call it “intentscore,” so you can target the visitors who seem to have the “intent” of buying a particular product.
  • If you’ve got a product feed, Chango offers dynamic creative for online stores, allowing you to create ads with recently viewed products the customer browsed at your e-commerce store.

Chango points to take home: Chango prides itself on having a huge network of data partners. Using their search retargeting option to target potential customers with an intent to buy, will give you an upper hand over your competitors when it comes to SEM.

Chango isn’t for the fainthearted, and their minimum price is 10k to set up a campaign. If you are just taking your first steps in the remarketing world, it might be wise to use one of the other platforms before you dive into the deep end with Chango.

Perfect Audience

Perfect Audience

The guys at Perfect Audience provide a retargeting platform for those who’d like to keep it as simple as possible. All you need to do is insert a script/code in the body section of your website, create lists of visitors’ types to retarget, design campaigns to target certain segments in your retargeting lists, and your ads will start appearing on visitors’ screens, so it’s as simple as ABC (and D).

  • You get to remarket your products or services to lost customers on Facebook, a platform with a user base of more than 950 million people. When a visitor leaves your website or a certain page without ordering, you will be able to retarget that visitor on Facebook. Similar to AdRoll, Perfect Audience offers both standard Facebook ads and the ability to retarget in the Facebook news feed. Check out this ad they actually ran themselves when they started their beta testing:

Perfect Audience Beta FBX Newsfeed Ad

A Perfect Audience Facebook Newsfeed ad

  • For online stores using platforms like Shopify, 3dcart, Magento, and Volusion, Perfect Audience offers practical solutions to retarget visitors who are leaving without buying anything.
  • You don’t need to pay a setup or maintenance fee, which makes it an ideal choice for small businesses with tight budgets.
  • Their “site reports” actually show you the names of websites which your ads have been served on, how many impressions were served, and how many clicks were attained. Using this data, you can easily see where your ads are performing the best and where your target users are spending most of their online time. Further to this, if you notice that one or a few sites aren’t performing well, then you can “blacklist” that site from your campaign to focus on more profitable exposure.
  • As suggested earlier, Perfect Audience focuses on keeping it as simple as possible. They even have a 5-minute quick start guide with instructions for setting up and starting to use their platform in a matter of minutes.
  • If you are sending emails or newsletters to a list of subscribers, you can retarget recipients who’ve opened the email. All you will need to do is place an image pixel on your HTML email template. Then anyone who opens your email in HTML format will be cookied and on your remarketing list. Of course, this opens a plethora of marketing opportunities. If you are a little creative, I’m sure you can think of a few fun ways to use this feature. The great part is its simple to build out your list. Take a quick look at this shot of me creating a remarketing list of past buyers of an e-commerce business:

Perfect Audience Creating An Email List

With Perfect Audience you can target people who have open your emails.

  • Perfect Audience also has a huge knowledgebase with short to-the-point manuals, quality guidelines, video tutorials, and dynamic ads.

Perfect Audience points to take home: Perfect Audience is a great option for small businesses that are keen to learn a bit more about online advertising without spending massive amounts. The range of options is great for e-commerce stores using third party platforms like WordPress, Shopify, Magento, or 3dcart.

Triggit

Triggit

Triggit has many different advertising options for their clients, but, like Perfect Audience, they seem to be focusing more on Facebook ads. That’s mainly because they strongly believe in the power of social media when it comes to converting a visitor into a prospective buyer. So, you will find many tools and features made specifically around the Facebook Exchange.

  • You can set your own budget, frequency caps (so that people don’t get annoyed by your ads), maximum bid, and a lot more while retargeting your visitors on Facebook and around the web.
  • While their reach doesn’t quite hit the highs of AdRoll or Perfect Audience, Triggit more than makes up for it by offering more advanced targeting features like frequency caps, bidding rules, and campaign goals
  • The Dynamic Creatives feature allows you to use custom heading, custom dates, and custom images in your Facebook ads to improve click through rates (CTR.) Not only can you retarget with products that the visitor has recently browsed on your website, you can integrate your product feeds and the software will dynamically create multiple ads for the same purpose.

Triggit Dynamic Creative Ads

  • In addition to the basics, there also are some advance retargeting options available, like targeting the people in your remarketing list according to their location (i.e., FBX Geo-Targeting [advertising to Facebook users according to their location]), one-off product marketing, custom reporting, customer segmentation, and creating unique strategies for different segments.

Triggit Advanced Targeting

A Geo-Targeting Campaign in Triggit

  • Triggit claims having access to more than 10 billion impressions a day, from millions of websites around the Internet.
  • Triggit is one of the oldest DSPs in the market, so they have plenty of experience when it comes to the art of retargeting.

Triggit points to take home: Triggit specializes in retargeting via Facebook Exchange, and that is where their strength lies.

ReTargeter

Retargeter

ReTargeter is comparatively new, but it already has shown itself to be a strong contender when it comes to remarketing platforms. Retargeter offers a wide range of marketing and remarketing solutions, including site retargeting, Facebook Exchange, CRM Retargeting, email retargeting, search retargeting, and short tag (you can use a custom link shortener and when you post that link on social media, anyone who clicks on it will see your full ad popup AND be cookied for later.), to name a few.

  • The service is aimed at sites with over 30,000 unique visitors per month.
  • You can create target ads according to the demographic, geographic, income, or intent of your customers.
  • Since they are not focusing more on a certain type of retargeting, you can choose from a variety of options; for example, retargeting visitors who have browsed your website, subscribers who have opened your newsletter, or people who’ve engaged with you on social media.
  • ReTargeter does not restrict their inventory based on spending level, so you will get full network access.
  • You can use frequency capping; for example, showing users 15-20 advertisements per month, so that they don’t start getting annoyed by your ads appearing left, right, and center.
  • Their services start at $1500 per month (and you will get up to 175,000 impressions for that price), and all the campaigns are managed by a dedicated account manager.

ReTargeter points to take home: A great solution for larger volume sites. ReTargeter has some unique advertising solutions which will put you ahead of the pack.

Google

Since we’re talking about retargeting, we’d better take a quick look at what the big “G” offers. With a massive display network encompassing more than a million websites, videos, and apps, there are plenty of opportunities to retarget successfully with Google.

The service can be set up easily from inside your Google AdWords account. All you need to do is add the remarketing tag to your website, build your ads, set up your campaign, and off you go.

In your AdWords account, head to the shared library (from campaigns tab) to create a list of people visiting a certain section or page of your website. Check out this image below to see exactly where to go:

Google Remarketing

Once in the shared library, click on “view” under Audiences as per below:

  • Google offers super simple targeting options. You can target people depending on their actions, time of visit, and the specific pages they landed on. Take a look below to see a real life example of this:

Google Remarketing Image Segmentation

  • Google has recently introduced remarketing lists for search ads (RLSA) with the aim of allowing advertisers to craft campaigns aimed at people who have searched for a particular keyword, regardless of whether they have visited your site or not.
  • Google remarketing takes place on the Google Display Network. This means you can reach close to 10% of the internet through their platform.

Google points to take home: A simple solution for users who are comfortable with the AdWords platform. It is limited to the Google Display Network and doesn’t offer any Facebook retargeting options. This service is great for people looking for an easy, quick solution without any headaches.

Conclusion

As you can see, whatever your niche and size of site, there will be a remarketing platform that will work for you. There is an amazing number of remarketing options available, and, depending on your specific needs, one of the above-mentioned platforms should do the trick. So, set up a campaign, start building your list, but, most of all, GOOD LUCK and happy remarketing!

About the Author: Stephen Walsh is the director of Lightship Digital and works with ecommerce stores and SME’s to improve their conversions and drive improved value from their marketing spend. You can contact him at Lightship Digital or say hi on Google+ and Twitter.

  1. Great guide Stephen, makes so much sense to try and capitalise on the folk that have been to your site and as outlined there are plenty of options in reaching them again.

    • Hi Graham, yep that’s it. We spend so much (in time and money) trying to get them to the sites it just doesn’t make sense not to use every effort to get the most out of it. Depending on the site you just have to find the right solution and go from there.

  2. No mention of Criteo?

    • Hi Joe, yeah Criteo was close, but this is more focussed on simple remarketing platforms to use, rather than a run down performance display platforms which have an element of remarketing

  3. I have used both Adroll and Perfect Audience – . In both cases neither companies stats added up to mine. Both companies eventually admitted to overstating view through and click through conversion stats – Just an FYI – it’s not what it appears to be

    • Hi Mitch,

      I to have noticed that the view through conversions figures seem a little shaky, I mean most sites are using a variety of methods to attract and retain customers. So I think the best thing to do with those figures is look at them in the context of the complete marketing plan rather than as stand alone stats because the reality is that a bit more complex than an image on a website.

    • Hi, Mitch!

      This is Brad from Perfect Audience. To be clear, we do not “overcount” view through conversions. We simply count them and make it clear how many view conversion you receive vs. click conversions. Stats from Google Analytics are never going to match the stats you get from an ad server because they’re measuring different things.

      Google Analytics has no way of measuring or counting view conversions because it doesn’t know who’s viewed an ad.

      Likewise, Google Analytics only counts conversions when someone comes to your site and converts during the same session.

      Our click conversion tracking, like every other ad company out there counts a conversion when someone clicks on an ad and then converts at some time in the future. Unlike a lot of other ad networks, Perfect Audience lets you adjust the period of time or window that you want to allow for this type of conversion tracking.

      There’s certainly no overcounting, there’s just counting, nice and clear. I felt it important to lay this out as it misrepresents what we and other ad networks like Adroll are doing.

      We’d love to chat again some time. I remember our support conversations well! Drop us a line!

      -Brad @ Perfect Audience

  4. Hi Steve,
    I’d like to know which platform works better for B2C and which works better for B2B businesses.

    Thanks,

    • Hi Peter,

      great question and it really opens a can of worms. I know this sounds like a bit of a whispy answer but I don’t think its the platform that’s the defining point, its the user and the strategy behind the use which will make the biggest difference in your campaigns. Although each platform has differing features (and you should choose your platform to suit your goals) they all offer retargeting and access to the Facebook Ad Exchange. They all offer segmentation and decent reporting. So its how you use them that will determine your results in a big way. If you do a lot of email marketing (regardless of being B2B or B2C) then go for Perfect Audience. If you want a managed campaign, then go for Retargeter.com. If you want a simple, clear solution with no fuss then use Adroll.

      I do think that Perfect Audience has a few great options which are pretty neat but again its the campaign itself that will make the most difference.

      Sorry I couldn’t give you a more definitive answer and hope that helps.

  5. I too would like to know which platform works better with B2B, any metrics on that?
    I had no idea that retargeting could be linked to open emails… diabolical… I love it.
    Great read, thanks!

    • Hi Owen,

      oh yeah! The email feature really is mischievous, there’s no end to ways you can use it. It’s great for huge lists and combined with a few good “ideas” you can really use it to your advantage. I could go but don’t want to give away to many tricks! The one thing to note is that Perfect Audience have a minimum 1000 people on the lists before you can start the remarketing, so you need a good few thousand on the email list to really get it rolling. Adroll have a 500 minimum before you can start remarketing with them so depending on the traffic and the size of the list that may be a better option.

  6. Any feedback on whether the email option would increase possibility of the email getting caught in a spam filter?

    • Hi Ken,

      I have only used the email feature of Perfect Audience on four different projects but as yet I haven’t noticed any of the emails having a higher percentage caught in spam filters. Depending on which service you are using, the history of the list and also the text of the email, the added pixel “may” slightly increase the chances but as I said not to an extent that I’ve noticed. The best way to find out for your list would be to open a Perfect Audience account (they offer 2 weeks of free remarketing to start) and send out a few emails to see what happens. I’de advise to have the banner creative completed as well as the Facebook news feed ad designed first because it can take up to three days for those ads to be approved upon submittal. So I’de have all that ready before you start using the 2 weeks of free time with them.

      Hope that helps.

  7. Stephen, great guide of retargeting tools.

    When I worked for bid e-commerce company (online retailer) we use Adroll, and retargeting budget was big enough! But it worth it!

    Now I work for saas company. Will retargeting be efficient? And what tool to use ( I suppose it should be also the cheapest one)?

    Thank you!

  8. A good mind ,good feeling, good thinking and loving heart gives all around him only that which is helpful.
    Thanks for good job.

  9. Great list of platforms dude………… I worked for e-commerce and I used Adroll. It is very effective.

    • Hi Sirangi,

      Yeah Adroll’s great, it was the first one I dived into as well. Super simple to setup. Perfect Audience has lower CPM’s (slightly) but they both do a good job.

  10. Great post! One thing you didn’t mention is Google has rolled out remarketing for search in the last quarter, so it’s not limited to display anymore.

  11. We have been experimenting with AdRoll recently and it has really been working out great. Our conversions have been stronger than through AdWords

    • Hi Maciej,

      great to hear! Most of the time the cost per click will be significantly less than with Adwords so its worth it just for that. Great to know your conversion figures are looking good.

  12. Man your team have done the best job and most of all for free.

  13. Hi Tom,

    thanks, I hope it saves you a few hours of looking around and trying to figure out what is what.

  14. Great idea and this article is an ultimate guide on how to do, complete with the reviews and how-to. Definitely an article worth bookmarking!

  15. Hey Stephen there is a misconception about RLSA. Users must visit your site to retarget them.

    From the link you provided:

    Note: Remarketing lists for search ads is not search retargeting or search remarketing. It does not provide access to or use information about users’ Google search histories,

  16. Akshay Nimbalkar Dec 16, 2013 at 10:16 am

    I worked for e-commerce and I used Adroll. It is very effective.

  17. There are a lot of retargeting companies that should have made this list.

  18. Guys,

    Of all the articles I’ve read about Retargeting, I’ve never read a mention of Vizury. Probably, it is because of the fact that the company has no presence in USA yet. It is based in India and has large client base and offices in India, China, Japan, Australia, LATAM, Middle-East, North Africa, SEA, and Australia. You might want to check out its unique offerings.

    -Anurag from Vizury.

  19. Seems like Google’s remarketing option is the easiest for folks who are already familiar with adwords. But what is the biggest drawback in your opinion? What are the most important elements they’re missing out on when they DIY with Google? Thanks.

  20. Thanks for the nice comparison :)

  21. I loved the feature and comments as I’m looking for retageting tool I can work with for eCommerce website. I’m not a lover of GA and thinking of the Perfect Audience tool.

  22. So from what I understand Perfect Audience buys webs ads through Appnexus which means the ad space is marked up 2x by the time it reaches the advertiser. That does not sound cost effective to me.

  23. Christy Kunjumon May 05, 2014 at 3:51 am

    Wonderful blog. In an recent interview with Larry Kim @ http://www.techwyse.com/blog/interviews/interview-with-larry-kim-larrykim-founder-and-cto-of-wordstream-wordstream/ , the founder of WordStaream . He mentioned about the best non-Google re-marketing options. Larry mainly gave importance to Facebook, AdRoll and Twitter.

    Read the complete interview for more information. Thanks!

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