Web Analytics

How To Get The Most Out of ReTargeter.com

By August 6, 2010 December 3rd, 2012 2 Comments

A couple of my good friends over at MailFinch, an on-demand direct mail service, and Upstack, a site where you can hire designers to do whatever you need, have both been using ReTargeter.com to drive visitors back to their site.  The way it works is a visitor comes to your site, and ReTargeter puts a cookie on the visitor.  Once the visitor leaves, and goes to another website, there’s a good chance they will see a banner ad from you.  And I’m talking about sites like Huffington Post, LA Times, Wall Street Journal and many more.  It’s all driven to get people to come back, hence the name “ReTargeter,” and so only those people who came to your site and got the cookie will see the ads.

From what Paul and Wes tell me, it’s been pretty successful.  Being an analytics guy, I ask “well how do you know that ReTargeter is sending any traffic back to you?”.  Their response: not real sure, but it feels like it’s working.  People are continuously commenting that they see their banner ads all over the place, and that “they must be spending a fortune on advertising.”  Even ReTargeter mentions this benefit in one of their case studies published on the site.

So the question remains, how do I track these ads better?

Well, the answer is pretty easy.  If you are using Google Analytics, they allow you to append the URL with a string of various parameters to identify a particular ad campaign, banner type, and more.  It’s a great way to see which variation of what ad seems to be working the best, and I don’t have to depend on ReTargeter data if I don’t want to.

So instead of linking every banner to http://www.pearanalytics.com,

I link each banner differently, such as http://www.pearanalytics.com/?utm_source=Retargeter&utm_medium=banner&utm_content=728x90a&utm_campaign=comebacks
To build a URL just like this, use the Google URL builder here.

url builder

Where you can see in the URL parameter the source of the ad (ReTargeter), media type (banner), content, or banner size (728×90 version a) and the campaign is “comebacks”.  All of this is recognizable by Google Analytics, and you can now segment your visitors by any one, or several of these parameters.  For instance, you might be interested in which 728×90 banner is performing best (assuming you have a conversion goal set up), so you can determine which copy or messaging is resonating the best.

The problem with just specifying a generic URL, or even a special landing page, won’t give you the data you need to truly segment your visitors and determine their source.  The source may come from many places and may not be readily noticeable in your Referral Source, so tagging the URL with these parameters will give you the insight you need to determine if the campaign is working for you (or not).

Optimization Idea #2: Try banners that talk to the visitor as if they already know you.

As I sifted through the many banner ad examples on ReTargeter.com, I noticed something interesting: no one was creating ad copy that spoke to the visitor as if they already knew who you were.  If I went to website A, then later was surfing on Yahoo News, and saw a banner from website A saying “hey, come back here!” – I think it would make me look twice, versus a regular ‘ol banner with “hi, we do this, and this, and click here to get a discount” type of banner.

retargeting banners

So we’re going to try a couple things, and using our nifty URL tracking code for Google Analytics above, test to see if direct copy works better than indirect copy.


Which one do you think will work best?

Ryan Kelly

Ryan Kelly

Ryan is the founder and CEO of Pear Analytics and has helped hundreds of customers with their Internet marketing since 2003. He has spoken on various topics of SEO, Analytics and other marketing at conferences in New York, Chicago and Vancouver. Clients he has consulted include Sears, KMart, CareerBuilder and PEER 1 Hosting. Ryan currently teaches two Internet marketing classes at Trinity University in San Antonio.


  • Samir says:

    Great article! Advertisers should want to link their banners to tracked landing pages, that way, they know where their retargeted traffic is going.

    Additionally, a well designed creative will definitely boost your CTR and ReTargeter does give good guidance on the design of your creatives.

  • mjabass says:

    Thanks for this outsanding article. Loved it! And please do check out <a href=”http://www.vastvision.com/socialMediaMarketing.php”>Social Media Marketing Company</a>.

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