Remarketing vs. Retargeting: Words & Concepts Matter! Even in Google AdWords!

Remarketing vs. RetargetingRemarketing and retargeting are all the rage in the advertising world, especially in Google AdWords, yet there is quite a bit of confusion about the two terms. Recently, I had occasion to talk with an ad rep at a large “retargeting” firm, and she told me that they were “essentially the same thing,” and then she continued to completely confuse the issue.  The distressing thing to me – working for a client who is interested in primarily remarketing – was that here is a firm (that shall remain nameless) that prides itself as having the largest “retargeting” network available… and yet their sales rep’s don’t know the difference!

Words matter – not because words really matter, but because concepts matter. Reality matters!  (Well, not always… but sometimes and certainly when it comes to spending your hard-earned dollars on advertising!).

Two Scenarios: Remarketing vs. Retargeting

  • Scenario #1. Someone does a search for say, “Dental Implants.” (Dental implants are a) expensive, and b) a big, big decision… not something that someone just does on a whim). They hit your website (either because of organic results or because you advertise on Google AdWords). Now, because they have hit your website, they are a pretty good prospect. What you’d like to do is show your ad to them, as they traverse the Internet. For example, wouldn’t it be great to show your ad as they browsed YouTube videos, read their Gmail, or even browsed sites like the New York Times or Chicago Tribune? Yes, absolutely! This is the world of re-marketing: remarketing means showing your ad to someone who has already been in contact with you, primarily by landing on your website. Remarketing means re-showing your information to a person who has already seen it: that is, a second contact.
  • Scenario #2. Now, let’s consider a different scenario. Wouldn’t it be awesome if there were a network on the Internet, where you could purchase all the people who are actively searching for dental implants? For example, everyone who ever searched Google for dental implants in, say, the last month? Or, anyone who has expressed any interest in dental implants, whether that’s on Bing, or Google, or by reading certain websites that are strongly related to the topic of dental implants. Yes! This is the world of re-targeting. Retargeting means purchasing essentially a database that captures users who have expressed interest in a product or service. Think, first contact between you and them.

So, re-marketing is the art and science of re-showing your ad to someone who is already been in contact with you. Retargeting, in contrast, means showing your ad for the very first time to someone.

These are very different things. In my experience, remarketing is far more effective than retargeting. This makes sense because people to whom you are remarketing, have already expressed interest in your product or service.

So, despite the fact that the ad representatives of many of these firms do not understand the difference, the difference is very important. When you’re spending your hard earned advertising dollars, accuracy matters! The devil is in the details!

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About Jason McDonald

Jason McDonald is a top-rated San Francisco SEO Consultant. His consulting services include search engine optimization consulting, social media marketing consulting, and Google AdWords consulting. Jason's motto as a consultant is that he doesn't do SEO 'for you' but rather he does SEO 'with you.' That goes as well for his social media marketing consultant activities and Google AdWords consultant services. Besides serving clients in the San Francisco Bay Area, Jason consults with clients in Silicon Valley (San Jose), Oakland and other cities throughout the Bay Area. Beyond the Bay Area, Jason is available as an SEO consultant, Social Media Consultant, and as an expert witness in litigation involving social media marketing, search engine optimization and pay-per-click advertising.