What is Retargeting?

fb_ads_retargeting_featuredimageIn early 2014, Facebook launched retargeting for advertisers, calling it “custom audiences”. You know when you look at a pair of shoes online at Nordstroms or a new tool at Home Depot, then Nordstroms shoes or Home Depot tools appear in ads all over? Ads will pop up everywhere from ESPN to your favorite recipe blog. That is called retargeting (simplified explanation), where advertisers track you through your device with a cookie or pixel (tech terms). They use the tracking information to serve ads on other websites. They can target you based on certain pages of a website you visit.

Why Do Advertisers Retarget to You on Facebook?

Retargeting has gained popularity in the last few years due to its obvious high rate of conversion and effectiveness. If you have already visited a company’s website, you have a MUCH higher propensity to purchase, especially if you are served a well-placed reminder ad about the product you want. Typically, you leave a website without purchasing when considering your options before you decide to buy (according to Marin Software’s “A Marketer’s Guide to Custom Audiences on Facebook“).

Retargeting in some form has been available to advertisers on Facebook for a while through third-party apps such as AdRoll. Then Facebook added the ability to create customized lists of people (including you) who visited certain pages of a company’s website, including specifying whether you converted or not. For example, the tracking script can tell Facebook whether you bought the new Home Depot tool or if you left the site without purchasing. If you purchased the tool, Home Depot may deliver similar tools that complement the one you bought. If you did not buy it, Home Depot’s ad on Facebook may deliver an enticing discount offer on the tool.

Before Facebook’s native retargeting, advertisers could retarget through a third-party to those who visited specific pages of a company’s website. Or advertisers could deliver ads on Facebook through Facebook’s built-in ad platform, allowing an advertiser to target you based on almost anything in your Facebook profile, including but not limited to your:

  • Age
  • Gender
  • Location
  • Job, Job Category Job Title
  • Interests
  • Relationship Status (if you have changed from single to engaged, you have seen the onslaught of wedding vendors jumping on you through Facebook ads)
  • Family Info, Kids

…and much more.

With “custom audiences”, Facebook’s advertising platform allows companies to get even more specific – targeting BOTH certain visitors from their website AND narrowing those down to only visitors with specifically chosen demographics.

How Advertisers Build Facebook Retargeting Ads to Target You

Here is an example of a Facebook ad for Lawton Digital Marketing with built-in retargeting. First, I setup a list that builds users over time. In this case, my list tracks and adds anyone who visits the Digital Marketing Services page of my website. They stay on my list for 180 days. Advertisers with shorter selling cycles may choose 30 or 60 day windows instead. Since, as a small business owner, you may research marketing companies for a longer time, my window is longer.
facebook custom audience example setup

Next, I build an ad tailored to those who would be interested in online marketing consulting and campaign management. My ad specifically focuses on small business owners living or operating in Colorado. Here are a few selections I made to narrow down who I would target:
FB digital marketing ad targeting
Look at how specific I was able to be! Not only am I targeting those who have visited my Digital Marketing Services website page, but I am also only serving the ad to those who live in Colorado, ages 25+, own a small business or have owner or marketer in their job title, and speak English. Is it scary that I can be that specific?

Here is the ad I could serve:

Chuckle at my ad design a bit – it’s ok, I am not a designer!

From the perspective of an advertiser, this is a dream come true. For my clients, I love it. From the perspective of the consumer, it is one step creepier in to the power of the information that Facebook holds with a platform of over 1.32 billion users (stat from TechCrunch), 829 million active on Facebook at least once per day, voluntarily submitting information about themselves that make it easier and easier for companies to reach out only to those with a propensity to buy.

Don’t Like A Facebook Ad? Remove It

You can not stop Facebook from delivering ads to you. As a user, you voluntarily signed up for Facebook, agreed to the terms and conditions, and chose to actively provide personal information that Facebook uses to serve your ads. However, Facebook will listen if you really don’t like a specific ad or advertiser. See the image with instructions below on how to stop a specific ad or advertiser from showing you ads.
Facebook how to remove ad from newsfeed arrowFacebook how to remove ad from newsfeed

Do you like the idea of ads being more targeted to fit your demographic profile? Or do you feel slighted?