Retargeting has long been an industry standard in the display media space. Here recently, however, Google’s getting in on the cookie craze, allowing search marketers to retarget previous visitors with specific ads in their search results. Now, there are certainly pro’s and cons to be weighed here from both the perspective of the searcher and the advertiser.
For the searcher, this has the possibility to seriously restrict the diversity of the ads being shown to you by displaying the same brands and sites over and over again. This doesn’t mean that Google is going to show you underwear ads when you search for motorcycle parts, but the brands of underwear sites that you’ve already visited may possibly dominate the paid search ads displayed when you search for different types of underwear. This would put searches in a silo making it less likely that searchers will stumble upon new brands that may be more accommodating to their underwear needs.
For the search marketer, a major pro is the sort of lead nurturing allowed by creative uses of cookies. The reality that we are now able to determine what ad text shows to a particular searcher based on their previous explorations and interactions on your website is likely to encourage high click-through rates. On the flip side, the possibility of lowering the bids (or not bidding) on ad placements for searchers that have already converted on your site may allow us to save money on searchers that already have a certain loyalty to the brand and will be likely pick out the site in organic listings.
I think we need walk a fine line between actually using the cookies and retargeting methods to display ads that are tailored to what the searcher is looking for, and using the method to display your ad obnoxiously to anyone that you can. However, if used correctly I think we’ll see conversion rates spike as our campaigns become more and more efficient.