7 Easy Steps to Improve Your Retargeting

Here are seven quick adjustments you can make to take your retargeting program from “Yuck!” to “Yay!” (Listen up all of you who just use default settings and one giant bucket of targeted visitors, and don’t skip the last point below.)

1) Frequency Caps

Overexposure to ads can quickly annoy visitors and result in decreased campaign performance. Limit the number of times a tagged visitor is exposed to your ad. Understand your sales cycle and take into account how frequently you want visitors to see your ad within that time frame.

2) Audience Segmentation

Visitors arrive with different goals and needs. Are they a customer? A prospect? What content have they viewed, and how does that help define their needs? Target messaging in ads to different stages of the funnel. Keep ads relevant to the audience segment.

3) Use One Provider (to start)

Many retargeting providers, such as Google AdWords, AdRoll, Steelhouse, and Perfect Audience have a high level of overlap in their publisher network.  Use one out of the gate to avoid dilution, then add unique publisher networks as your program grows and becomes more sophisticated.  Start with a network that provides a broad reach and good feature support, such as frequency capping.

4) A/B Testing

As with all aspects of digital marketing, retargeting offers a fantastic opportunity to improve your engagement numbers through ad testing.  Ideally, optimize to increased conversions.

 5) Use Targeting Options

Many retargeting networks offer sophisticated add on targeting for geography, context, demographics, or more. If these help you better focus your retargeting spend on the audience that will most likely bring you value, you should be using them.

6) Switch Up Messaging

Many marketers reiterate messaging in their retargeting ads.  But retargeted ads are also an opportunity to say something different.  Perhaps the reason the prospect didn’t convert in the first place was that the key piece of your value proposition for that person was missing in their experience on the site.  A/B testing different ads that have different value propositions is a powerful one-two punch, and a path to success.

7) Evaluate Correctly

Repeat after me: “Retargeting is not a Channel”.  Unlike other media, retargeting only works as an add-on cost that pays for itself by increasing conversion rate.  Without your other channels, retargeting cannot exist.  Yet companies still commonly report on retargeting performance with channel-based metrics, such as a unique cost-per-action.  The right metric is cost-per-assist, and this can only be evaluated in terms of overall cost of acquisition and conversion rate. Thinking clearly about how to evaluate retargeting is key to success, as the increased use of retargeting is quickly increasing the cost and competition in the display networks.

Retargeting is quickly moving through its awkward adolescence as marketers begin to understand user behavior and find tactics that work for them.  Keep trying new ideas and you too will find that retargeting becomes a key piece of your digital marketing program.

Soren Ryherd @ Conversion Conference 2016 – Las Vegas

Join Soren Ryherd at Conversion Conference 2016 in Las Vegas on May 18th when he presents “Beyond Clicks: The New Math of Optimizing for Multi-Channel Traffic”.

Soren will walk through a process for creating conversion success in digital campaigns that goes well beyond search. Backed by data and the new math of digital engagement, this presentation will provide quick and highly useful take-homes for creating conversion success from large and diverse digital campaigns.

Soren Ryherd to Speak at SMX West 2016 – Chain-Based Attribution

Working Plant Co-Founder, Soren Ryherd, will be speaking at SMX West 2016 in San Diego on March 2nd as part of the panel on “Attribution Beyond the Last Click”. He will be discussing the merits of Chain-Based Attribution.

Panel Overview: Giving all the credit to the last click of a conversion is like saying the scorer is solely responsible for the goal. Attribution is much more accurate when factors such as in-store visits, phone calls, and offline conversion uploads are taken into account. In this session, panelists examine various attribution metrics and show you which are best for the most important things you need to measure in understanding conversions.

Soren will be joined on the panel by Dave Roth of Emergent Digital and Adam Proehl of NordicClick Interactive. The panel will be moderated by Brad Geddes of Certified Knowledge.

Attribution Lesson: Why Your Data Are Lying to You

Your data is not telling the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth. Well, the tools you’re using to manage your data are likely not up to the task and as a result of that attribution issue, you’re not getting to the truth.

In his first Search Engine Land article as a monthly contributor, Soren Ryherd encourages marketers to plug value leaks, measure campaign effectiveness with a holistic view, and to embrace the Out-of-Channel engagement path to help ensure that they are correctly managing their online marketing efforts.

Read this Search Engine Land article here!

What readers had to say…

One of the best attribution articles I’ve read in a long time. Thanks for stepping up the conversation”.

“Very interesting thought on attribution ! You’ve inspired me to start thinking in a new direction”

Why We’re Loving Pinterest Promoted Pins

In January, Pinterest moved their paid advertising platform out of beta.  As early adopters, we were able to run tests with Promoted Pins to see if targeting, cost, and engagement could provide a meaningful channel for our clients.

It did.

In fact, Pinterest Promoted Pins has been one of the fastest growing digital channels in our history, providing high quality traffic with measurable engagement.  For at least one of our clients, Pinterest has grown to encompass over half their media buy simply because the numbers are so good.

Direct Response in Social Media?

Unlike many paid Social Media advertising programs, the visual focus and highly engaging nature of paid pins have led to performance not unlike direct response campaigns in Search and other highly-responsive media. This has meant rapid results and optimization of campaigns, which is not always the case in Social Media advertising. Where many Facebook and other Social Media campaigns may be challenging for direct response results, Pinterest can work quite well. We do note that it is early for Pinterest, and increased competition and Pinterest’s own efforts to increase bidding are likely to result in a more expensive channel in the future.

Out-Of -Channel Activity

While Pinterest provides high-quality traffic and direct engagement with Promoted Pins, it is worth noting that they also provide a high level of Out-Of-Channel activity.  Out-Of-Channel activity simply means that there is a tracking disconnect between the exposure of the paid advertising and the actual sale or other engagement of the end user.  With Pinterest, it is not at all unusual for users to see the domain name of the advertiser associated with the promoted pin, then come in through a Brand or No Referrer visit.  It is important when evaluating Pinterest campaigns that the Out-Of-Channel lift be taken into consideration, as significant value is produced through Out-Of-Channel behavior.  In tests done with online retailer Urbilis.com, we estimate Out-Of-Channel activity to be close to or more than the level of tracked sales.

Out-Of-Channel activity occurs with any online advertising, and is related to the level of interruption of the media.  Search, for example, has essentially no level of interruption and therefore low levels of Out-Of-Channel behavior.  Pinterest, due to the nature of Pins and Promoted Pins, has surprisingly low levels of interruption compared to display, video, or even other Social Media advertising. With Urbilis.com we say Out-Of-Channel behavior as approximately 50% of the total value created by Pinterest.  In display, video, or other more interruptive media this can be 90% or higher.


Pinterest Promoted Pins allowed us to reach an audience far greater than our clients’ organic Pinterest campaigns. It has not been unusual for us to find that the volume of re-pins and clicks from Pinterest can be 10x t0 100x the volume of the non-paid Pinterest campaigns. This access to a significantly larger quality audience makes Promoted Pins highly valuable for clients in many vertical markets.

Pinterest is a great example of the power in testing new media channels and programs. Digital marketing is a game of volume and math. Finding new and engagable audiences while controlling cost of customer acquisition is a key part of a robust digital program.

Soren Ryherd to Speak at SMX Milan 2015 Conference – Mad Scientists of Paid Search

Working Plant Co-Founder, Soren Ryherd, will be speaking at SMX Milan in November!  Soren will discuss why Out-Of-Channel measurement is critical in to the success of CPA-based marketing given the high levels of out-of-channel user engagement outside of Search, as well as the increasingly common cross-device behavior seen in mobile search. 

SMX Milan will take place at the Meliá Milano hotel on Thursday and Friday November 12 & 13 2015. Please catch up with him after the session, if you plan to attend! 

What “The Next Level” Looks Like for Digital Marketing

“We want to take our marketing to the next level.”

We hear that often. But with digital marketing becoming more complex by the minute, what does the “next level” even look like?

1. It’s Holistic

With cross-device and cross-channel behavior becoming more the norm than the exception, marketing programs that are siloed by channel are going to be increasingly inefficient. For example, Mobile ad exposure can drive desktop engagement. Video ads may well drive brand searches.  But when value created in one channel is realized in another, it creates disconnects for budgeting and performance measurement. Striving for neat and tidy single-channel performance numbers is likely detrimental for your business. Marketers who break through to the next level are looking holistically at engagement across channels, across engagement points, and over time.

2. It’s Even More Data-Driven

Data-driven reporting, or simply looking at Google Analytics reports won’t cut it any more. Data used just for creating reports is data that is being wasted. True data-driven marketing feeds core metrics from advertising, engagement tracking, and customer databases back into ongoing optimization on a daily basis. “Next-level” data will focus on supporting complex modeling with hard data from multiple sources. The days of “do, measure, done” are gone.

3. It’s Financially Rooted

If you’ve been optimizing for marketing metrics without an underlying financial model, it’s time to step it up (take notice “Time-On-Site”). Marketing at its core is a financial  investment in a financial outcome. “Next level” marketing is explicit about the financial model and how engagement and customer value support revenues and profits. To do this, Key Performance Indicators must be tightly aligned with profits.

4. It’s Predictive

The ad dollars you spent today may have no relationship to the sales you made today unless you have the world’s shortest sales cycle. Today’s sales were likely to be largely, or maybe even entirely, from past advertising.  Tomorrow’s marketing relies on predictive models that are savvy about time. An understanding of sales cycle, latency and engagement process is critical to the financial assessment and efficient optimization of your program.

5. It’s Complex

Yes, life would be easy if marketing were simple. But today’s big opportunities in Digital lie in mastering complexity. The better you are at understanding complex user behaviors and tightly optimizing those behaviors for a clearly-stated financial result, the better chance you have to beat your competition. This means understanding the limitations of your ad management tools, reporting, tracking systems, and customer data and moving beyond those limitations.

The “next level” is an exciting place. Welcome to it.

Display & Search: 5 Things that Make them Better Together

Marketers engaged in Search often overlook the opportunities in Display advertising, but with total Display ad spend set to surpass Search in 2016, it’s time for advertisers to take a hard look at Display.

The ugly truth is that advertisers who are used to Search often fail at Display.  Let’s chat a bit about the strengths and differences between Search and Display:

1. Immediate Need vs. Education – Search has been the go-to media for direct response campaigns because you can respond to  a clearly expressed need.  When users tell you what they want, it’s easy to tailor the message and the engagement path.  But Search is limited to those that both know what they want and are taking active steps to find it.  Display, on the other hand, offers the opportunity to get beyond the late-stage buyer.  By educating and engaging a broader market, Display can help grow your overall market opportunity.

2. Linear Engagement vs. Cross-Channel – Search-savvy advertisers often fail at Display because they apply the same tools and metrics to Display that work for Search.  The user path is completely different with Display than Search, however.  With Search, it is not uncommon for over 90% of users to click on an ad and then engage.  This linear behavior has lead to the explosion of analytic-driven marketing programs. With Display, though, the numbers may be reversed, with 70-90% of the users that engage doing so without ever clicking on an ad.  Click-to-engagement metrics can lead to Display being undervalued by a huge factor.  Luckily, more advanced approaches to understanding cause and effect are bringing Display back, as advertisers learn to take advantage of how users actually behave.

3. Create Demand – Advertisers that still use last-click attribution love their Brand traffic, but often don’t think about the drivers behind it.  Display engagement often happens through a follow-on Brand search, meaning Display can be a very strong driver of both brand awareness and brand engagement. (Pro-tip: Utilize Display ad messaging in Brand Search ads for seamless engagement.)

4. Accelerated Home-Page Testing – Companies addicted to split testing tend to focus on purpose-specific landing pages, often because targeted Search campaigns can benefit from them. With Display, more focus is placed on the home page (because of the high levels of engagement without a click) creating a bigger audience for testing.  As a result, tests can run faster, creating a conversion win for all marketing programs that drive traffic to the home page.

5. The Display + Search One, Two Punch – With Display campaigns creating demand, and Search campaigns capturing demand, the combined Display + Search approach creates a powerful combination for growth.  As we emerge from the channel-centric world into one that embraces multi-channel, multi-device behavior, this alignment creates tremendous value when executed correctly.

Soren Ryherd – Mad Scientist of Paid Search SMX Advanced

Professor of Search Marketing

Andrew Goodman, Soren Ryherd, Andy Taylor

Working Planet CEO Soren Ryherd recently took the stage at SMX Advanced as one of the “Mad Scientists of Paid Search”. For the last nine years, SMX Advanced has showcased leaders in innovation in paid search on the Mad Scientists panel, one of the main stage events at a conference focused on advanced trends and tactics in digital marketing.

Soren spoke about the increasing need for Out-Of-Channel measurement due to high levels of Out-Of-Channel user engagement outside of Search as well as the increasingly common cross-device behavior seen in mobile search. He particularly focused on the detrimental effects on CPA-based bidding systems when Out-Of-Channel effects are ignored.

Soren’s presentation on “The Interruption Curve and Digital Optimization” can be seen here.

Moving Beyond Search

Data-driven marketing in the last decade has largely been thought of as a search marketing phenomenon. The growth of search fueled many of the tactics and tools adopted for digital since the launch of paid search in the early 2000’s. But now is the time for companies to step back and re-evaluate the digital landscape. If you’ve been heads-down in search marketing, you are in for a big surprise!

Paid digital advertising is both better and more varied than ever. Innovations in targeting, retargeting, ad formats, and measurement have broken open the dam, and advertisers should be embracing both new media formats in their digital campaigns as well as more advanced forms of measurement, evaluation, and modeling. Opportunities abound for companies willing to look beyond search, but to maximize these opportunities, some coveted metrics and tools will need to be cast by the wayside.

New Opportunities

If you have been heavily reliant on desktop-based search, then welcome to the party! From video to internet radio, to promoted tweets, pins, and posts, from pre-roll to rich-media display ads, the digital opportunities are almost endless for connecting to a targeted audience. Some favorites of ours at Working Planet include more sophisticated retargeting display ads, YouTube ads from text overlays to pre-roll video, Google Shopping product listings, and LinkedIn B2B paid advertising. All of these have proven to be remarkable areas of growth for clients willing to break out of the search box.

New Measurement Required

If you are moving out of search, be aware that your measurement and optimization program will need to mature as well. Many, if not most, non-search forms of paid digital media involve a more complex pattern of user behavior than the click- visit-buy approach that is common in desktop-based search advertising. Often, this will require looking holistically at your sales across channels, and looking for cause and effect in different channels. Be prepared for customers who engage without ever clicking on an ad, and don’t be locked into looking only at known channel behavior.

The good news is that there are sophisticated ways to assess and optimize multi-channel campaigns that take advantage of complex user behaviors. Attribution Modeling exlores the path of multiple visits across channels in the creation of value. Media Mix Modeling looks at the influence of marketing on cross-channel and cross-device behavior. Tools like these allow for the same kind of efficient optimization in non-search media, reducing risk and maximizing value.

We’re excited about the unceasing pace of innovation in digital media. Every new ad platform creates new opportunities. So look beyond search. Search is great, but there are so many other audiences to tap into.