Retargeting is Not Prospecting

By Thought Leaders Archives
Cover image for  article: Retargeting is Not Prospecting

by Yoav Naveh, Chief Executive Officer, Convert Media

Online ad network pitches used to go like this: "Our proprietary technology helps you find new customers." The truth is that in the past, many of these companies have actually retargeted existing consumers instead of finding new ones. Their technology and historical lack of transparency combined to hide this fact. More bluntly, they simply weren't doing what they said they could do. Retargeting existing customers is quite different than finding new ones, and mixing the two could end up giving you misleading success metrics.

Fortunately, the growth of programmatic trading has brought increased transparency to the market. And that transparency, in turn, has pushed some companies to finally deliver on their historical promise to use data and technology to create new prospecting strategies that can be easily verified. In fact, finding customers you don't already have will be the primary role of networks and programmatic buyers moving forward.

A true prospecting program not only scales your potential customer base but increases the opportunity for learning and understanding about audiences earlier in the consideration funnel – long before they make it to your site. This is critical knowledge that a retargeting program does not provide. Prospecting explores a wider array of data signals for correlations in order to drive awareness and intent. Unlike retargeting that tests multiple iterations of an ad for a product a user has alreadyseen (or some variation on that product), prospecting applies the data learned to new ones and finds new potential customers.

Looking at the most common prospecting media – search, organic and direct buys on endemic sites – you find that the channels are rather stagnant and the strategies are passive in that you have wait for a user to search or visit a specific site. That doesn't align with the performance goals of data-driven marketers.

Display offers a tremendous amount of upside for prospecting, including multiple touch points that can follow a user from first impression to conversion. This is why prospecting with display has a huge upside.

When trying to evaluate the true value of prospecting placements, marketers must look beyond last-impression or last-click attribution. Here’s why: prospecting placements generate interest for the advertiser, but users are unlikely to buy on their first visit to a site. Later, these users can be retargeted and converted on subsequent visits to the site. This changes by advertiser categories, but as a whole, last-impression and last-click attribution make it look like the retargeter earned that sale, when in reality, the initial prospecting ad also deserves credit.

Make sure you understand how to split the reward between the prospector and other traffic sources such as retargeting or search, either by creating a silo for the prospected user and letting that vendor take care of them, or attributing some of the sale’s value to the prospector who got the user to enter the funnel, regardless of who “closed the deal.” If you or your clients decide to stick with last-click or last-impression attribution, especially for direct-response campaigns, you’ll still need to pin down a separate retargeting CPA and higher prospecting CPA. Different attribution and measurement combinations require more detail and explanation.

Prospecting is key to getting new customers to your site, but it's not enough. You need to continue to build a more robust data profile to convert him/her from a visitor to a buyer. Just like growing a plant, it's not enough to simply plant a seed. You have to continue to water and feed it until you see a blossom.

You also need to analyze the behavior of these new potential customers when they reach your site in order to determine just how valuable they really are. Look at the level of engagement that your prospected visitors exhibit. While search users may have more explicit intent than a user from display, a user delivered through display may have cost significantly less to bring to your site. Provide your prospecting vendor with as much visibility as possible to achieve that.

I recommend constantly examining and improving your prospecting attribution model and CPA targets while sharing with your vendors a clear definition on what a new user means to you: is it a non registered user, or simply someone who has not been in the site in the last 2 months?

Display ads, especially banners, have taken something of a beating over the years as users failed to click on them in significant numbers. Yet display is one of the most effective tools to find prospects at the top of the consideration funnel, and through the sophisticated application of data analytics, start to move them down to ultimate conversion.

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