Podcast 13 – Google AdWords Remarketing & Retargeting

Show Notes:

Remarketing or retargeting with Google AdWords is a huge opportunity for businesses. And who better to tell us how it’s done, than the expert to the experts.

Dave Booth spends a lot of his time flying around the world at Google’s request to teach agencies (who manage AdWords campaigns for a living) the intricacies of advanced Google AdWords.

He is also founder of one the largest pure play web analytics consultancies in the world, Cardinal Path.

Google do not endorse trainers very often. And having attended his training sessions myself, and now having interviewed him, it’s very easy to understand why Google like him so much. 

He is super smart, extremely experienced and like all great trainers, has an uncanny ability to simplify complex topics.

I strongly suggest following Dave on Twitter, or read more about him at Cardinal Path.

Listen in now, or if you prefer to read…

Philip:  Welcome to another episode of the Online Marketing Secrets Podcast where we interview the world’s leading experts in online marketing.  And today is no exception.  We have a man who is the expert of the experts.  He’s been endorsed by Google to teach the expert agencies Google AdWords. So, welcome Mr. David Booth.

David:  Thanks, it’s great to be here.

Philip:  Can you tell us a little about your background, how did you get to be selected by Google?  It’s quite an honor.

David:  Sure I think it all started back in 2004 when I founded a company along with Corey Koberg and that company was called Webshare.  We got involved in the Google platform through the Google Analytics program, the the Certified Partners program which back then was known as the GAC network, and from there we just kept stumbling into opportunities.

We moved into the Website Optimizer Authorized Consultant Network, then we started doing some Adwords Management and moved our way into the GCP program, spent a lot of time in Mountain View and, at some point we got into the Seminars for Success program.  So that’s something that we have in a few different countries around the world.  It’s the Google official branded training on the Adwords, Analytics and Website Optimizer products.

We started doing that, we’ve now got about 23 people and after Webshare merged with VKI Studios and Public Insight, we have a company here called Cardinal Path, and it’s new since September 1st of last year.  And, we have about 23 people who are running around the world teaching these seminars on behalf of the Google Seminars for Success program.

So from that, we got involved with the Engage group which is targeting the agencies around the world and I’ve been all over the place.  So, started out inAthens,Greece.  I’ve been back to Europe a few times and Australia and New Zealand, South East Asia and of course, across the United States and Canada speaking to the agency groups on things to do with the Adwords products.

So it’s been a fun journey and we’re right in the middle of it right now.

Philip:  That’s exciting.  So you do a lot of education and you teach literally, you do teach the experts.  What sort of surprises you the most in terms of what people or the opportunities they are not taking advantage of or the mistakes they are making?

David:  That’s a great question.  I’ve gotten to see a lot of what these agencies are up to and there’s some very, very intelligent people doing some very neat things here, but I think the biggest thing is Adwords is something that a lot of these agencies aren’t doing exceptionally well.

It’s not their focus so a lot of agencies are working with website development, other agencies are working on the SEO side and SEM is something that they are getting into and Adwords is a great first step, especially for those that are targeting the small businesses that have the limited budgets and like the self serve platform, the Google network, particularly the Google Display Network offers from a display advertising perspective.

So I think what I’m always surprised by is how many wonderful things that these agencies are doing and how SEM just naturally flows right into the web of services that they are offering.  In a lot of cases if they are doing SEO, you can leverage the same sorts of keyword research or take it a little step further and then to get the paid ads up there along with the organic listings.

You’ve got web dev firms that are billing out landing pages for other campaigns and those can be piggy backed on for SEM campaigns.  So I think it’s a great segway for a lot of agencies to get into the Adwords space.  And it’s just a lot to it – it’s become a very big program and platform over the years, and Adwords has a whole lot of features so that yes, it’s true that you can be up and running in five minutes with $5 but that’s a pretty good way to waste $5.  There’s so many dials and knobs and settings to know about and to take advantage of.

Philip:  Absolutely, I mean, I think it’s quite difficult for a business owner or marketing manager to select an agency or a specialist to outsource their Adwords to.  Obviously lots of people are doing it but there’s not – well, there’s lots of people doing it and there’s also lots of people within that who actually don’t specialize in it.  As you said, they do a lot of other stuff and I guess in your due diligence you really got to dig deep and find out what sort of level of expertise they have.

David:  Yeah, I think the ease of use of the platform is a double edged sword.  It makes it very easy for people to get up there and start advertising on the same level.  It makes it very easy to sell those services when maybe you’re not quite ready to yet.

Philip:  So we met a month or two back on one of the training days for Google Engage which was that program you were mentioning that Google have to help educate agencies more.  You’re coming out to Australia a couple of month’s time, you’re also writing a book at the moment I believe.

David:  That’s right.  Yeah, the Engage war path is taking us out to Australia and we’ll be going back to Australia and New Zealand here coming up pretty quick.  So I great to see all of you guys out there in Sydney I believe is where we had a chance to chat.  Yeah the book is also coming out.  This is Display Advertising An Hour A Day.  It’s in the same Hour A Day series that Wiley publishes, so if you’ve liked Avinash Kaushik’s Analytics An Hour A Day, this is in that same series.

Philip:  Great.  Yeah, and that’s a great book isn’t it, the Avinash one?

David:  Oh fantastic.  Yeah, Avinash has put out some really good pieces of work through the books and blogs that he’s been out there promoting.

Philip:  So this show is fast becoming the Cardinal Path show, we had Nick Iyengar on last.  We also had Justin Cutroni, I believe he’s moved on to Google.

David:  That’s right.

Philip:  So, we’re almost a Cardinal Path show.  We’ll have to diversify.

David:  It’s been great though.  We’ve been able to attract a lot of really talented people.  So Nick, who you mentioned, is just a fantastic resource.  He actually came from Google.  And then we just graduated Justin Cutroni off back to Google, so he’s working on the Analytics team over there.  We do enjoy a pretty nice relationship with Google and their product teams.

Philip:  Awesome, so let’s get into today’s topic.  We’re going to talk a little about Online Stalking or as most people know it, Re-marketing or Re-targeting.  Can you explain a little about what Re-marketing is?

David:  Yeah, I think, and maybe it’s best to just go back to basics.  When we talk about display advertising in general, we basically have three ways to target people.  We can target people contextually.  That’s by the keywords that we’re bidding in the Adwords display network for example.

We can target people by placements which are actually individual ad inventory slots on particular pages on particular domains that are there, that are able to serve up some ads.

And a third way that we can target people is by audience.  And this is where we’re not really worried about the types of pages that they’re on or the specific pages or areas of those pages that they’re on.  We’re more worried about the people, and this is really where we’re going with targeting into the future.  It’s made possible by cookieing and I’ll certainly dive into that a little bit later.

But essentially, Re-marketing is Google’s entry into this kind of evolution of re-targeting that focuses on the audience and not so much the placements or the context of the pages where the placements appear.

I think if we talk about this, they’re certainly not the first ones who have been in this space.  There’s companies like Fetch Back and Adroll go back to 2007.  And, what happens here is we started out with search re-targeting.

So if you think about just search advertising in general.  Somebody does a search on Google for something like basketball shoes and a whole bunch of text ads appears, and that’s basically the search network marketing that we have.

And, if someone were to click on those ads, that’s fantastic and it’s great stuff for direct response.  But if you’ve gotten someone who didn’t click on your ad, you’ve essentially lost them, and that’s the problem.

So search re-targeting said, “I’ll go ahead and chase this person around the internet based on the things that they typed into search engines, and I’ll continue to show them ads.”  So it’s kind of where this display advertising and search advertising have this intersection.  After you’ve done that search on basketball shoes, you start seeing Nike ads around the web and that would be the search re-targeting.

And there’s all kinds of other re-targeting as well.

Philip:  Sorry, so can I just clarify that.  So, they’ve actually clicked your ad right, they’ve landed on your website and that’s when you cookie them?

David:  Right, so that’s the best part about search re-targeting, they don’t even have to click on your ads.  So search re-targeting is just based on the searches that they do around the web, not just on Google but on any of the major search engines or on product searches that they are doing on different sites.  And this is where re-targeting kind of had its birth, from the search side.

We’ll get into the site re-targeting which is where they actually take an action on your site, that’s really where Google plays here.  But you got all other kinds of re-marketing, re-targeting.  You can re-target based on context, so people who tend to browse certain pages that match a certain context, we can then start to re-target those people with ads.

And again, not with the Google interface specifically but Google’s interest categories, is really all about that kind of contextual re-targeting.  And you’ve got things like email re-targeting or social re-targeting.  If they do something based on an email list or something like that, we can go after them, again, as they browse the web.

So site re-targeting is what you were mentioning and that’s exactly right.  I get to your website one way or another and I do something on your website.  And then, you can drop a cookie on me.  And then, based upon that cookie, I can run around the web and I can see ads that are specified to me and the action that I took on that site.

So that’s really what re-marketing is from Google’s perspective is.  It’s the ability to re-target an audience that you can define by placing some Java script on a page and then cookieing that person to be part of a list that you control and define.

Philip:  And as most people know, conversion rates on a website are typically low single digit percentages which means a huge number of people don’t actually convert.  So that opportunity to get those people back, 95% or 97% of those visitors back to your website is a massive opportunity.

David:  Oh it’s enormous.  And I think this is really where it has its potential and power.  I think like there’s a Comm Score report that came out December of 2011, this is last holiday season when people are out there on eCommerce sites buying for the holiday season and still 96% of them are leaving the websites without completing any kind of a conversion action.

And at the same time you’ve got 7 out of every 10 shoppers, and this is a Forrester report that talks about this.  Seven out of every ten people who actually put something in their shopping cart, don’t buy it which is an amazing lost opportunity because once they leave your site, unless you have a way to re-target them later, you’ve lost them.

Philip:  I remember being in the US recently and I think Zappos do re-targeting very specifically.  I looked at a pair of red PUMA shoes and I moved off their website and I was some other website and immediately I saw the exact shoes colour with everything that I was looking at which bearing, if they’ve got, whatever, tens of thousands of products, that’s quite impressive.

David:  Exactly.  And that is product re-targeting.  So based upon the actual product that you had in your cart.  If you decide not to buy it, they can come back and get you and re-target you based on that product.  So yeah, all kinds of re-targeting is out there.  And you make a good point too, it’s cookie based, right?  So this is based on a browser and not necessarily a person.

Philip:  Yeah, so if somebody wanted to get started what’s the recommended way?

David:  So there’s lots of different players out there that are doing lots of different things and the different types of re-targeting, but to get started with re-marketing, a lot of people start there because it is a part of the Adwords network and the Adwords network is one of those self serve networks that’s easy for people to get into.

So, the advantages that Google has in this space is they’re already such a huge player out there and the odds that you got campaigns running already are pretty good on that network.  So, you have the ability to leverage that right away.

Some of the things to think about from the Adwords perspective are that while some of these networks take a little bit of time to disseminate the instructions per say as to which ads to show to which cookies, the adwords network is pretty extensive.  It’s based on that double click cookie.  So you can actually have someone abandon your shopping cart, on the very next click they can start to see ads for the same place that they just left.

Now they’ve got a coupon or something like that and of course, the scale of the display network, Google’s network are reaching over 80% of the entire internet using world and they’ve got over 500 million unique cookies out there on just one network.  It’s an enormous one.

So the easiest way to get started is probably with the Google Re-Marketing Platform.

Philip:  Right, well let’s talk a little bit about that.  I guess giving listeners a little overview about how they were to get started.

David:  Yeah, so I think the first thing is just to understand kind of what this thing is.  And when I do talk to people I usually, give an example.  A friend of mine who didn’t know what re-targeting was and got re-targeted.  He was in a situation where he had three children under three years old, and that gives him a unique need where he needs to actually have a car that can fit three car-seats in it.

There’s not that many out there but there’s one manufacturer that he found on the web and he went to their website and he went through the process of designing his car on the web and he picked his colors and he picked all the leather interiors and all the LCD panels and the back screens and things like that.  And he found out that this thing was going to cost a virtual fortune to buy it.

He left the website and he didn’t do anything about it.  But then he started seeing ads all over the place and he came up to me and he said, “Dave, I was looking at this car and it’s ridiculously expensive.  But they must be selling these things like hot cakes because I’m starting to see these ads everywhere.”

And I had to explain, “It’s not that their advertising everywhere, they’re advertising to you everywhere.  Did you happen to go on that site?”  “Oh yeah, I put together the car online.”  “Well that’s where they cookied you.  If you clear your cookies, you’ll stop seeing those ads.”

So I think that’s what the response is.  There’s still lots of people out there who don’t understand this is happening.  So they just think to themselves, “Wow that brand really, really had a control in the market!”  Or they think, “Wow I’m lucky, now I got a coupon for that thing I almost bought.”

Philip:  And even more so for a small business, small or medium size business, people can perceive that you are much larger than you are.

David:  That’s absolutely right.  I think there’s – as much as we like to say that branding and positioning are dead in the internet age, they’re certainly not, there is that presence of mind and for a small business that doesn’t have the brand power of a Coca Cola or a Google or a Microsoft or Intel or something of that nature.  Yeah this is a great way to plaster your message in front of the right people who have already qualified to become your target customer.

Philip:  And the great thing is you can, as you’ve built up this list, you now can serve ads or you can change your ad copy to that list whenever you want, and that’s pretty powerful as well.

David:  That’s right.  So in the example of the car, you’re not going to start showing this person ads for a sports car that’s a two door, two seater.  You know what this person was looking for – 17 row bus of a car, alright?  So you can start showing them pictures of a big family piling into a very large car with car seats all over the place, right, and it resonates with them.  It becomes much more relevant.

Now the great part about this is a more relevant ad will attract more clicks.  As we know from general search marketing advertising, the higher the click through rates, the higher the quality scores, the lower the cost per click, the better the placements that you’re going to get.  It just becomes this upward spiral of wonderful things.

Philip:  I mean as you said the click through rates and the re-targeting display ads are ‘x’ times higher than normal display ads.  Do you think re-targeting is sort of going to take over the display world?

David:  Well I think – I’ll even take it broader than that.  I think audience targeting or behavioral targeting is really what’s going to take over.  We’re going to stop putting our ads on our website just because it’s a certain type of website or attracts a certain demographic that we look at in past data sets and I think it’s going to be focused much more on the person.

So, whether it’s re-targeting or targeting to begin with, there’s lots of ad networks out there and lots of services that are collecting this data already.  And so, targeting is happening across the web.  You’re much more likely to see ads targeted to your taste and preferences, not based on any particular item that you’ve done but on the aggregate of all the things that you’ve done on the web.

So yeah, I think we really are going to shift display advertising towards targeting an audience rather than targeting pages and placements.

Philip:  Which is Google’s weakness sort of in comparison with Facebook isn’t it?  Facebook have all that audience data, demographic data that they are using for all their advertising.  Everyone is so excited about it.  This is sort of a good response.

David:  Oh yeah, I think Facebook talks about an IPO here in the spring, really that’s what it’s all based upon, right, is that amount of data that they have about consumers.  And I think Google’s responded – we’ve seen the Google Plus launch and we’ve seen a lot of the numbers that they’re aggressively promoting in terms of how many people are adopting this technology and active users of Google Plus and ultimately that’s what it’s all about is identifying the audience so we can then sell that information to advertisers.

Philip:  So the set up process within Google is pretty fast isn’t it?

David:  Yeah, it’s actually really straightforward.  If you’re already using conversion tracking, it’s going to seem very familiar to you.  There’s actually a tab inside your Adwords interface.  If you don’t see it, it’s hidden by default.  In some accounts, you just go off to the right of the tabs, there’s a little drop down and you can go ahead and check the box next to audiences, and then you just go through the steps.

You click Add an Audience button, just like you would Add a Placement or anything else and what you do is you create essentially a list.  Now audiences also includes that interest category, right, so you don’t even have to create a specific list for your website.  You can start to target audiences based on their interests as they traverse sites on the Google network.

Google has an understanding of people who tend to go to recipe sites and restaurant sites and they can put them in the interest category of people who are interested in food.  Then you can target those folks, you don’t have to add any additional code.  That’s still audience targeting.

But the re-marketing list is another part of that and to create a re-marketing list, what you’re basically going to do there is follow the steps to create a new set of code and the conversion code will look just like conversion tracking code, it’s just some Java script and you place that on your web pages where the re-marketing list activity has been met, where that criteria has been met.  And then it drops the cookie to signify that they have been on that list.

So as an example, let’s say you wanted to create a list of people who subscribed to your newsletter.  What you’ll do is create a new re-marketing listing, name it Newsletter Subscribers, and then you’ll get the tracking code for that.  And you place that tracking code on the page of your website that says “Thank you for signing up for my mailing list.”

At that point I know that you are a newsletter subscriber, I can drop that cookie on your machine and you have now been enrolled in that re-marketing list.  And the last thing you do is you give it a time frame.  You can actually go up to a year and a half with the Google re-marketing solution.  So I can keep you on that list for an enormously long time if I need you to.

Now of course if you clear those cookies, you’re expired from that list as well.  But yeah, once that code is up there, you start building your list and you can do that for anything.

We talked about a newsletter but it could also be a purchase, right.  You put that on your thank you page or it could be just putting something in a shopping cart.  You put that on the page that says “This is what you got in your cart.”  So you have enormous flexibility here.

Philip:  So let’s say you are a service provider, maybe a consultant.  Let’s say you are a management consultant offering different services.  Do you need to sit down before hand and think what sort of strategies you want to follow.  Maybe you want to build a list around a particular type of service that you have, some sort of,  I don’t know, HR redundancy consulting that you do, maybe that’s one of your services and you build up a list just for people who have looked at that page.  So you need a bit of planning before hand.

David:  You got it.  Like any successful advertising strategy, it starts with that strategy, right.  So you have to sit down and start to think about if I had a list of people that matched criteria x, y and z, what would I message them.  And you bring up a really good example, so someone who goes to a management consultancy website and they look for, they’re getting a lead, they fill out a form or they download a white paper, return, they give an email address or something like that as a typical lead generation process.

Or if they didn’t give us an email but they did download the paper on legal services or on accounting services or on any of the types of services that we offer, we have an idea as to what their intent was.  We know that this person was interested in legal, we know that this person was interested in accounting and from that perspective we can drop that cookie on them at the moment we know what their interest is and then we can start showing them legal service ads or we can show them messaging or imagery in our ads around accounting.  And we can chase them around the internet over two million websites or part of the Adsense YouTube double click networks and just with that one Adwords display network, re-targeting, re-marketing campaign, we can go after these guys and they can’t hide from us until they clear the cookies.

Philip:  Yeah, so basically any web page on your own website, you can decide, well do I want to show a separate message about this particular page, then you want to create a separate list for that page which means you need to put tracking code on that page, right.

David:  That’s right, and, for those of you guys who are more comfortable with Java script, this is just Java script.  So it doesn’t actually have to be on a page, you can fire this inside of AJAX actually, you can fire it inside a flash, you can fire it wherever you need to.  All you need to do is fire the code to set that cookie.

So if you have a site that doesn’t have a pure HTML page that signifies an event has happened, you can get pretty creative with that code and I have yet to find a situation where we couldn’t inject it somewhere.

Philip:  And you used the example earlier about an eCommerce site where maybe you look at a product, you put it in your cart but you don’t actually follow through on the purchase.  So that’s a little bit more complex in the set up process, right, because you’re working with different lists.  Can you give a bit of an overview?

David:  Yeah, I think at the base level, you can keep it very simple.  So you could say if somebody went to my store and they put something in their cart and they left my store without buying that cart.  Basically what you’re going to do is set that person’s re-marketing cookie and then you’re going to chase them around, and this time you offer them a 10% off coupon.

Now the tricky part and I think what you’re alluding to here is well, what’s the difference between marketing to someone who put something in their cart and bought something versus someone who put something in their cart but didn’t buy it.  And that’s a great situation to explore.

One of the most powerful things we have about re-marketing lists is that we can combine cookies in whatever way we want in order to create the list that we actually advertise to.  So in this case, this situation will be solved by dropping a cookie when they put something in their cart and then dropping a second cookie when they actually purchase it.

And now what we’ll do is set up our ad campaign to show our ads to everyone who has that first cookie but does not have that second cookie.  What that does is allows us to advertise only to the people who have put something in their cart but have not yet checked out.  Once you check out, you have removed yourself from this particular list and you are no longer eligible to see those ads.

Or better yet, we have a different list.  So for the people who have checked out, if you bought one thing, then we’ll start to upsell you or cross sell you on things you need now that you have this one thing that you bought.  It’s an expanding set of opportunities here.  Really, creativity is your only limitation.

Philip:  I think for people listening to this podcast, maybe they don’t have the Adwords console in front of them, it may sound a little bit confusing as all the different steps, but it’s actually quite simple.  Maybe the first time around it will take you 20 minutes, maybe half an hour if you’re not that comfortable in actually setting this up but it’s a pretty easy process.  Next time around it will take you 5 minutes or 10 minutes.  So it actually is very easy.

David:  Oh yeah, just play around with it.  Essentially when you get into the Audience level, there’s only three kinds.  You got all those predefined categories, you have straight re-marketing lists and then you have what is called the “custom combinations”, and that’s where you can get creative.

Philip:  So you think everybody , let’s take your average plumber, HR consultant, dentist, lawyer, whatever they are, eCommerce site, you think everybody should be doing re-marketing?

David:  I think that the concept can work for just about anybody.  Typically advertiser goals will fall under two different buckets.  You either got direct response or you have some kind of branding in positioning goals.  In actuality this thing was build for direct response and that’s because it’s action based.

You actually did something to show me that you’re interested in what I have to sell.  So now I can chase you around and give you offers until you decide to sell on top of my – continue to present these offers until one of them works.

But if you think about it, even for branding, you have that situation where people start to say, man, this company must really be on top of things.  They have a huge advertising budget, they’re everywhere I go.  And that sticks in somebody’s head, so at the very worst case, you’ve managed to get your brand or your message stuck in somebody’s head by sheer repetition alone.

Now that said, this is some pretty powerful stuff and anything like that comes with some responsibilities so you don’t want to abuse it.  One of the things we see is people will certainly overdo it, so visiting your home page for example, is probably not enough to qualify someone on a prospect list.

We want them to actually go down the path of showing interest.  So whether that’s downloading a white paper or watching through a video or getting to the shopping cart process or something like that.  That’s usually a better way to do it.

And the other thing is you can think about putting some frequency capping in place, right.  So you have the ability to limit how many times a certain person will see this particular ad, and you have to think if they have ignored you the first five times, then you’re probably on the border of doing some brand damage.  You might want to just do the polite thing there and start leaving him alone.

Philip:  Can you explain a little bit more about the frequency capping and how you would do that?

David:  Yeah, so this is something that’s actually not unique to re-marketing but to display advertising in general.  You have the ability in Adwords for example to set a frequency cap of a certain number of times this ad can be shown to a certain cookie before it stops, so you can set that to five times a day or you can set it to 500 times in a month, and you can set that at the ad level, you can set it at the ad group level or you could set it at the campaign level.

If you look at some of the other platforms that bid across different networks, they have the ability to do frequency capping regardless of whether the inventory came from Google, GDN or whether it came from Yahoo or AOL or MSN or any of the other inventory sources out there.

Philip:  So it makes sense, I mean the one point of view is well if they’re not clicking on your ad, you’re not paying.  But I guess, you’re showing them too much, they start to get a little bit pissed off and potentially damage your brand a little bit.

David:  Yeah, and I mean there’s practical implications too, right.  Every impression that doesn’t get clicked is going to hurt your click through rate and that’s going to in turn hurt your quality score and then you get that kind of downward spiral.

Philip:  So are re-targeting ads considered on the same playing field to the normal display ads when Google looks at quality score and click through rates?

David:  Yeah that’s a great question.  So, these actually go to auction just like any other and you don’t get a special bump in your quality score just because you’re using re-marketing.

Basically what happens is there is combinations if you’re doing different kinds of targeting.  So you may have an ad group that targets a contextual keywords and it also has specific placements that you’re managing and it also has audiences that you’re targeting.

So, Google Adwords has a pretty good help file that goes through all the different combinations of which one takes precedence over another.  But once the ad goes to auction, really, no type of targeting is specifically going to influence the outcome of that auction so much as the attributes that make up real quality score and then of course your CPC bid.

Philip:  I mean – so that really means that normal display stuff is going to die.  I mean your click through rates aren’t re-targeting whatever 3, 4, 5, 6, 7 times higher than normal display generally so, those ads don’t really have a chance do they?

David:  Yeah, that was one of the best things when this re-targeting thing was relatively unknown as to people who were using it were able to really take advantage of this thing and get just domination in the market because really it’s almost an unfair advantage.

Philip:  I mean I’m starting to see all our clients ads whenever I go around the web.  That’s the only thing else these days.  So clearly they’re showing these re-targeting ads are getting higher rates or higher quality scores.  For those who don’t know the higher your quality score means the lower your CPC.

David:  Oh yeah.  No, it’s becoming pretty prevalent and people are starting to understand how it works.  The only downfall there is we’re still basing this on a browser, on an actual computer and not necessarily on a person.

So my wife borrows my computer for an hour and I end up seeing ads for organic salad dressings for a month.  Just like when you’re talking about – or worse off, I borrow my wife’s computer and she starts some ads for computer nerds summer camps and enterprise hosting packages.

Philip:  Sorry just on that question, should anybody not be doing it or is this for everybody?

David:  Yeah I think if done well, this is for anybody.  If you have these goals and again any kind of online advertising should start with those goals.  Define the specific objectives that you have – I want to generate leads, I want to generate phone calls, I want to generates sales, I want to get my brand out there, I want to get more followers on Twitter, I want to get more people plus oneing my pages, I want to get more likes on Facebook, all of these can be KPI’s or indicators to help you with those goals.

Philip:  And I think it’s important I find there’s a bit of confusion with clients talking about this re-targeting.  It’s actually very separate from Adwords, the search advertising.  So it applies to all visitors to your website, doesn’t it?  And you don’t have to be doing search advertising to start re-targeting.

David:  Oh sure, from the perspective of how you can be triggered on one of these lists, yeah, inside the Google network all you have to do is hit that page and it doesn’t matter how you get to that page, you don’t have to go through another Adwords medium to get there.

You could click on email, you could see a television commercial and type in the internet address directly.  However you get to that page and do that thing that allows that cookie to the dropped, you will then start seeing those ads immediately and it’s based on the reach of that double click and Adsense publisher network.

Philip:  Okay, excellent.  So, everybody should be doing it, get on to it.  And it doesn’t take too long either, there’s no downside.

David:  No, I think one of the biggest thing to get started with this is just start building your list.  I mean even if you decide not to start marketing and spending on them right away, start building those lists and dropping those cookies.  So sit down and think about that strategy and think about what list would I like to have to be able to market to.

This is really something that, if you were in the business of purchasing marketing lists in the past, this is your golden treasure chest and you can build it yourself for free.  So, just start building those lists.

Philip:  That’s a great point, I think when I first looked at this a while back, you sort of assume that you are setting up a campaign, you’re setting up this list, you need to start advertising on it.  But the list is very separate to the actual activity that you’re driving.

David:  Yeah, I mean there is a time frame on it.  You’re going to expire your cookie and if you expire people off your list before you’ve had a chance to advertise to them, then of course that’s not someone you’re advertising to but at the same time, there’s no cause to set this up and start cookieing people other than the cost of doing it.

Philip:  And when you actually set up that list, you need to specify the expiry date of that cookie and you can change that expiry date, can’t you?

David:  That’s right, you can go up to a year and a half and you’ll want to be thinking about what’s a typical buying cycle or whatever it is that I’m selling or what’s a particular conversion cycle of whatever it is that people are converting on.

So, something that takes somebody a month to think about, retail is a good sector where it is typically 27 day buying cycle I believe.  You don’t want to expire that cookie after two months or worse a year.

If they haven’t made their decision after 30 days or maybe 45 days, they probably, they’ve moved on so you’re just wasting impressions and hurting your click through rate at that point.

The other thing to consider too is delisting event.  So one of the things that a lot of people forget about is setting that delisting event.  So we talked about once someone purchases, stop trying to sell it to them and you could cross sell them something else but you have to have that delisting event.  So that once they’ve done what you’re trying to get them to do, you could either stop promoting that or start promoting something else.

Philip:  And if you do change your – let’s say you set up your list with a 30 day expiry and then you come back couple of months later and you decide actually, you want to make this cookie go for 90 days, is it just a simple process of changing that to the 90 days and then from thereon end all the cookies will be 90 and the others are still going to be 30.  Do you need to do any new installation with the code?  How does it work?

David:  You got it.  That’s just as easy as the interface.  You go in, you edit it, you turn it from 30 to 90.  Now it won’t effect the cookies that have already been dropped, those expirations have already been set.  But like you said, from this point going forward, yeah, it’ll be from 30 to 90 days.

Philip:  That’s great.  You don’t need to put any more code in so it’s very easy, you can play with that.

David:  Yeah, and along those lines, even better, if you’re already using conversion tracking code, you can use the existing conversion tracking code that you have to create a new remarketing list.

So from that perspective, everybody who is using conversion tracking code, should have a list called “converted” and you don’t have to do any additional code if you’ve already got the conversion tracking code in there.

Philip:  So what do you think about this strategy of presenting discounted offers to somebody who’s been on your site, hasn’t bought, you show an ad to them saying special offer of 10% off or something like that.  Because your customers or your prospects can get pretty wise to that.  What are your thoughts?

David:  Yeah, I love it personally, because I’ve never bought something the first time ever since I realized this thing existed.  Just put it into your shopping cart, don’t check out with it and wait 24 hours and you can save 10%.

But I think the key here is – I speak to lot of the agencies – you say these are the folks who should be knowing about this and who should be doing this. Really, what I find is that outside kind of the media agency space a lot of people don’t know about this even the people who are doing it.

So the people who are being targeted by really have no idea that this is happening.  They just think they are getting really lucky.  They have that reaction that says whoa! I almost bought that thing.  I’m glad I didn’t because now I can save $10.  That was really, really fortunate.

And it’s really kind of keeping that fine line between being a little creepy and being just relevant enough for it to almost be believable that this is sheer coincidence.

Philip:  Will be interesting to see how that changes over the years or how wise the general masses become?  But I think you’re right, you live in this world of agency and re-marketing and Adwords and all that sort of stuff, you assume that everybody knows it but you’re right, they don’t.

David:  Yeah, I think in many respects, we’re still kind of in the wild west here with everything to do with online marketing but specially the new era of platforms like this one.  Yeah, there’s still a lot of opportunity to be gained and I think anybody who’s not doing this right now can start and find themselves with a leg up on the competition because we’re certainly not in a place where re-targeting has become the only form of display.  There’s still a lot of dollars being spent on traditional display and poorly targeted display for that matter.

Philip:  So I just want to emphasize to people listening, get that list started because you can’t go back in time and create the list.  It’s only from when you drop the code on your website which creates the cookie.  So just get started today and then work out how you’re going to target those previous visitors.

So any common mistakes that you find people making?  Any advice on what not to do.

David:  Yeah I think what you just said is probably the number one biggest mistake which is just not using this.  It’s really a no brainer if you think about it.  So I’d say start thinking about your list and once you’ve got some kind of a strategy, just get started.

The other one I see a lot is make sure your list makes sense.  And I said it before, but just go into your Home page and then bouncing doesn’t really mean much, that doesn’t qualify you for a list.  So you want to try and drop those cookies into places where you absolutely know that the customer’s done something or you know something about that user’s intent that you can specifically market to.

So ask yourself that question.  Can I actually put together a marketing message that is reflective of the action that this user took and if the answer is no, you probably don’t want to create a list for it.

Maybe another thing is like we talked about.  Just make sure that you are smart about when to stop re-marketing.  So we talked about how you can stop re-marketing at sale position but some people ask the question, well, what if I sold something offline, there is no thank you page where I could drop that second cookie and then use that combination.

So you want to get creative, right.  So, for example, if my friend actually did go and buy that car offline, he could have been driven to a special owner’s only registration website and that’s where a cookie could be dropped.  Just because you know if somebody hit that site, they are an owner of the car and now you can stop showing them those ads.

Philip:  Are there any ways you can set engagement criteria to the actual list?  So, if somebody visits more than three pages, I guess that’s a multiple list, right, or time on site, engagement metrics?

David:  Oh yeah, and this is where we start getting creative, and I’ll take you even a step further.  So everything that you just mentioned is absolutely possible.  You’re only limited by when you can fire some Java script code.

For some of our clients, we actually – we have users that are logging into a site or they’ve opted into receiving customized content.  We can actually drop cookies on random pages based about CRM data or what we know about them.

So for example, we can show people ads across the entire web on the GDN inventory based not on what they did on the site but the demographics and psychographics and any offline behavior and historical transactions or behavioral patterns that we have access to in the CRM.

A good example, we got Valentines day coming up.  And it’s pretty clear that women will shop much earlier than men when they are shopping for Valentine’s day.  They start thinking about it earlier.  So we could actually drop cookies on people that we know are women and start a campaign that targets those folks earlier than the ones we know are men.

So there’s really practical applications of this and any kind of data sources that you have can be used to drop these cookies at any point.

Philip:  It’s pretty freaky stuff isn’t it?

David:  Yeah, and going back to the common mistakes that people make.  That’s probably right up there as well when you cross that border and you get creepy, right.  I mean this stuff is pretty powerful.

Philip:  Yeah I can see some weird ads being targeted towards an individual.  Philip, you’re a weirdo, I know you’re into this, this and this.  I mean and I guess there’s obviously going to be a natural back lash in the media and certain people saying, well this is just going too far, using everything you know about me to present the most targeted ad.  But, I have contrary view.  I just think advertising is not a pain in the a**se when it’s actually targeted, you want it to be targeted.  I have no problem in being shown the most relevant fishing lure for my kayak fishing or something like that.  That’s exactly what I want, I don’t see an issue.

David:  And we’re in a very interesting time where last year it started heating up, this year I think we’re going to see some really intense debate over what is internet privacy and how many people actually want it to take form.

You think about – you said a great thing.  If I have to see ads, and I think everybody is of the impression right now that if the internet is going to continue to just keep distributing wonderful free content for everybody, it has to be funded by something and that something is ads.  So if you have to see ads, I’d rather see something that’s relevant to me.

And the other thing is that whole concept of PII, Personally Identifiable Information.  Really, like we said, this is cookie based which means I’m not targeting you, Philip Shaw, I’m targeting the cookie that lives on your machine.  And I don’t really care that you are Philip Shaw.  What I care about is that you have this cookie and that cookie is demonstrated the potential to be a customer of mine.  This stuff is going to play out here in the near future but I think the other thing to keep in mind is that the online space is probably not the scariest space.

If you think about it, a merchant who has access to your credit card, could go and buy enormous amounts of data and they don’t even need your credit card.  They just need your first and that last name, if they have an address, that’s even better.  And they can figure out what kind of car you drive and when you open a bank account when you were thirteen years old back in your home state.  And then, they can sell those lists and that’s what makes your phone ring right at dinner time when you just sit down.

So, telemarketing and all kinds of marketing lists did not get invented with the internet by any means.  And from a lot of perspectives, they are a lot more intrusive than any kind of an anonymous cookie.

Philip:  Yeah, have a big problem in being a cold called like that all of a sudden with a  particular product relevant to me but, moving on the web, I don’t have a problem at all.

David:  Yeah.

Philip:  So why is re-marketing – it just seems to be the crazy thing that everyone’s talking about now especially in the online marketing space.  Why is it just gone absolute gang busters now?

David:  Yeah, I mentioned that it’s been around for a long time, right.  In the media agency spaces, it’s really kind of been theirs alone and kept secret outside of there, but, people just didn’t know up until recently.  I don’t really know when it started but there’s certainly been a lot of buzz about it lately.

I guess you kind of attribute it two things.  Number one, I think is just awareness. So, it’s now we’re in a situation where it’s not one or two people that are taking advantage of this, there’s lots of people who are taking advantage of this.  It’s getting so prevalent out there that although still there are a lot of people who have no idea, there are some of those savvy folks that are saying, what’s going on here?  Those ads are hidden just a little bit too close to home.  Are they chasing me around or things like that?

And the other one I think is accessibility.  Google is actually not early to the game by any means but they do have that ability to really push something into the spotlight.  And I think when they took on re-marketing and brought it to the masses, it kind of gained a new front and centre stage…

Philip:  And it’s because you’re already in the console.  You’re in the Adwords console, you’re doing search, you’re doing display and now, another tab pops up.  So, it’s a lot easier, a lot less daunting for people to experiment with it whereas with the other networks, you actually have to go to a brand new business and start understanding what they do.

David:  Yeah, and I think it’s definitely worth mentioning that Google’s not the only place to get this, right.  There are some great third party vendors out there that kind of started this whole thing and they’re still around.  And they can give you access to not just the Google display inventory but also AOL and MSN and Yahoo and Adbright and Ad Nexus all the ones you never heard of before all through one vendor.  So I think that’s made it a lot more accessible to people as well.

Philip:  Do you have any – can you give any ones that you sort of think are pretty reasonable quality for a self serve perspective that business owners can check out?

David:  Yeah, I mean one thing you’ll probably have to be comfortable that departing to a full service situation.  A lot of these guys are services based but there’s some great ones out there.  You’ve got Adroll, Simplify and Re-Targeter that are doing sort of the same things that the Google’s Remarketing are, only over larger scales and larger networks.  But then you’ve got Fetchback and Bysite that are specifically targeted to the product re-targeting that you talked about.  So you put that red sweater in your cart, you see an ad for the red sweater around the web, right.

And then you’ve got one like Magnetic and Chango and these guys are really focused on the search re-targeting.  So you’ve done some searching on search engines and on product searches and all over the web.  And then, they can sell that data back to you essentially and start targeting people, showing them ads based on their search behaviors around the web.

Philip:  Right, so with Google – with the Google console there is no minimum spend.  With these guys, most of them have a minimum spend don’t they?

David:  Yeah they’re all going to be a little bit different.  There are some, I know Adroll doesn’t have a minimum spend, for example.  There are some that have some higher minimum spends but really, a lot of these are in reach of even the SME. So, I’d encourage you to take a look at them and make a phone call and have a conversation.  There are some good options but certainly to start with the Adwords network is something everybody should do as soon as they stop listening here.

Philip:  Awesome.  Do you have any secret tip that you think people may not be aware about that you could give some awesome insight or strategy?

David:  Yeah, I think a lot of these come back to just getting creative.  Start thinking about what you’re doing.  We got some situations where for example, we can put together some buffer lists.

So we got a client that sells something and that something tends to need to be bought twice a year.  So the minute that we sell this to someone, we can drop two cookies on the machine.  The first cookie tells us that they bought this thing.  The second cookie is nothing more than a timer.  It’s just set to expire within five months.

We know they have to buy it twice a year.  So right around month six from the purchase, they’re going to be in the market for it again.  So what we do is we set up a custom combination there.  So what we do is we target a list of people who have bought that thing.  They have that first cookie but who’s second cookie has also expired.  So they don’t have that second cookie anymore.

So after five months, they qualify for that list and then they start seeing ads for that thing that they’re just about ready to start thinking about buying again.  So those are some really interesting things that you can do with these cookies and these combinations.  And I really just encourage people to explore, maybe also some non traditional sorts of things that you can do.

We got one client that – pure branding, they don’t really have any sales.  They’re not selling anything online but we’ve had enormous success with re-marketing.  What we do is – for example, they have a sweepstakes and people get to that sweepstakes but they cold feet and they don’t want to put in their email address or they don’t want to download whatever it is that they need to download to join the sweepstakes.

What we do is we re-target them, we get them back at a conversion rate of 21%, and if you think about it, that’s a conversion rate of 21% on an action.  That’s a conversion rate that’s blowing search campaigns out of the water.

Philip:  Wow.  So – that’s – those are two really good tips.  I love the two cookie one for a repeat purchase, timing the second cookie, that’s just great.

David:  Oh yeah, it’s fantastic.

Philip:  Nice, I like it, I like it.  So what do you think will be – we’re running out of time Dave, we could be speaking forever and you’ve already lived up to your status being the guru to the experts.  What do you think we’ll be speaking about in a year’s time regarding re-targeting?

David:  I think, like you said, we’re going to be in a situation where we’ve gone more towards the audience than we did the context or the actual replacement targeting.  The amount of data that is out there, that’s being collected, the Google Plus, the Facebook data, these are just kind of the tips of the iceberg for what we’re going to be seeing in the longer term.

And I think we’re going to be further along in the conversation around privacy and how people want to be marketed to.  So I really think the sky’s the limit and we start to think about all the creativity that we have here, just using the data that we have access to now, I can only imagine that as this data becomes more prevalent and acceptable to use in the marketing community, we’ll be able to target those ads and specific kinds of ads and will be able to feed not just products but specific messaging.

And people will become used to it and it becomes much more relevant, it becomes much more effective and as advertisers are allowed to really control our costs and not have to spend money on ads that don’t have a chance of converting.

Philip:  Nice, excellent.  Well, Dave, you’ve been very generous with your time.  Look forward to catching up soon when you visit Sydney.  Where can people find you online?

David:  So I’m on Google Plus, I’m on Twitter, I’m on Facebook.  I’m on all those usual places and the best place to find me is to go to Cardinal Path.com and you can find me on the blog and that has a link to all of my various places.

Philip:  Great.  There is probably not a link for your book yet but we’ll load that up as well when there is.

David:  That sounds great, yeah.

Philip:  Beautiful, thanks for your time Dave.

David:  Thank you Philip.

By Philip Shaw

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