Perfect Audience Outperforms AdRoll in Ad Retargeting Test

For the past several months, we’ve been running 2 separate ad retargeting campaigns: one of them on AdRoll, and another on newcomer Perfect Audience.  We’ve also used San Francisco-based Retargeter in the past, but we’ve started to lean toward a pay-as-you-go model versus a higher, fixed flat-fee model.  All of these platforms are very good, but for the purposes of this comparison, we limited it to the first two: AdRoll and Perfect Audience.  The subject is South Texas Saddlery, a San Antonio-based retail business that sells handmade leather goods both in-store and online.  As with most retail or e-commerce businesses, the challenge is getting the purchase on the first visit.  In fact, most e-commerce websites will experience a conversion rate of less than 1-2%, meaning there is a big need (and opportunity) to nurture and remarket.

Disclaimer:  This is not a scientific experiment.  The setups in each platform were slightly different, but the results were still dramatically different.  If either platform wishes to do a more scientific experiment, we would be happy to set one up.

What is Ad Retargeting?

Ad Retargeting allows marketers to “re-market” to visitors who come to their website and fail to complete a specific action – in this case, a purchase.  So, if you do not make a purchase, a cookie will be added to your browser, and you will begin to see banner advertisements across various websites, luring you to come back.  If you were to click on this advertisement (assuming there is a promo) and complete a purchase on the website, there is typically a “burn pixel,” which then removes the cookie from your browser, and you would stop seeing those ads.  Let me be the first to say that this does not always work!  Even after purchase, you may continue to see the same banner ads.  Annoying?  Sure.  Is it effective?  HELL YES. I’ll show you in a minute.

Perfect Audience and AdRoll allow you to put up various sizes of banner display ads, including the ability to remarket to visitors on Facebook using Facebook Exchange.  In this case, you’re not using the typical ad setup in Facebook by selecting demographics, locations, etc.  None of that matters — only the folks who’ve been to your website AND are on Facebook will see your ad.  You can even get pretty fancy and retarget visitors who landed on specific pages.  So if your visitor was on the leather briefcase page, you can set it up so they’ll see an ad with a leather briefcase in it.

Google also has a remarketing option as part of Google Adwords, and you can track its effectiveness by adding some additional code to your Google Analytics snippet.

Note:  It is advisable that you have at least 5,000-10,000 visits per month to your website in order to maximize the effectiveness of your retargeting campaign.  Retargeting works by building a “list” of prior visitors that they can pixel and retarget, so the bigger the list, the better the retargeting will be at driving more clicks to your website.

Setup Comparison

Both tools are relatively easy to set up.  You start by creating a campaign, uploading your ads and setting a budget — pretty straightforward.  However, there are two things I like better about Perfect Audience in this area:

1) Perfect Audience has a UTM tag builder built right in — AdRoll does not.  A UTM tag consists of various parameters that are included in the URL that talk to Analytics.  It’s the same parameters you use when you “auto-tag” your Adwords campaigns.  This way, I can see what banner, or even what offer on the banner was more effective in driving conversions.

ad retargeting UTM tag builder in Perfect Audience


2) Perfect Audience also has better campaign/site management for agencies.  As you can see below, I can easily add another web property or customer to our parent retargeting account.  The developers may want to continue to add more agency features, like sub-account access and login, as well as invoices that correlate to each site, versus the account.

Perfect Audience account manager


Billing Comparison

Both of these retargeting platforms bill in a similar manner; you set up a weekly budget that will be used to fund whatever CPM or CPC you set.  However, I feel like AdRoll bills the weekly budget amount whether you’ve used it or not, leading to a pretty large reserve in the account.  Perfect Audience doesn’t seem to be doing this.

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The Results

It’s worth noting that the AdRoll campaign has been running considerably longer than the Perfect Audience campaign, and that the AdRoll campaign is not retargeting to Facebook, whereas Perfect Audience is.  First I’m going to post the dashboards for each tool for the last 30 days, and then for the lifetime of each.

cost per conversion for retargeting


As you can see from this graph, the AdRoll campaign hasn’t generated any conversions in the last 30 days.  I also pulled in from Google Analytics some other comparison metrics looking at time on site, pageviews and bounce rates.  Looks like Perfect Audience is getting us slightly more engaged users.


Here are the full campaign metrics for comparison:

adroll vs. perfect audience


Notice the difference between the Facebook results and the web retargeting.  Facebook brought in a lot more clicks, but a much higher CPA.  In conclusion, both of these tools provide a valuable platform for marketers.   I am leaning towards Perfect Audience and plan on getting all of our customers on this platform in the next couple of months, but I would encourage you to try multiple providers and do your own testing.

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