Remarketing: The Good, the Bad and the Ugly

Written by Joanne Kearney

Joanne has over 10 years’ experience working in digital analytics, executing and managing many large scale projects across the UK and Ireland. Joanne is also an experienced trainer, having developed many customised corporate training schemes and regularly speaks at digital and analytics events.
September 11, 2015

In our third and final series of remarketing posts we look at real-life examples of remarketing; who is doing it well – and not so well.

As we mentioned in our first remarketing blog post, there are 3 things that a remarketing campaign should be- timely, relevant and have an incentive in the ad.

Thinks before you buy- can you get a discount? is a popular online store where you can buy clothes, bags and shoes among many other things!
They have a streamlined shopping cart process and at the very beginning of it they ask you to sign in or sign up using your email:
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Similarly to other websites now too, you can’t actually purchase without giving Coast your email- we’ll explain the reason here shortly.

So, I go though to continue to purchase, but once I hit the payment page, I drop off and don’t complete the purchase. Soon enough, I get the following email telling me that they’ve noticed there are items in my basket that I haven’t purchased – that they didn’t want me missing out on:


If I leave it and don’t click, they’ll send me an email soon after with a similar message. If I still don’t purchase, they use clever remarketing ads that targets me across the Google Display Network, with an ad containing the exact bag that I wanted to purchase! If I’m lucky enough it might also offer a discount off the price, so instead of the bag costing €128 it will now cost €88!

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Trivago’s dynamic ad space
Another company which executes remarketing campaigns well is Trivago.
If you use their website to search for a hotel room on a certain date you’ll likely be targeted with remarketing ads.

I’ve searched for a hotel in London here:

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So I’ve expressed an interest in travelling to London from Friday 29th August- 31st August, but I need more time to think before I book.

Later that day, I’m navigating around and, when I see a Trivago ad – with a pre-populated date and room type already selected, based on my original search a few hours earlier. Although Trivago don’t use an incentive in this ad, they are encouraging me to click to create another hotel search, and making it very easy to do so.

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Source:                                               Source:

These are two great examples of remarketing campaigns, because they have taken the time to learn about what I am after and tailored the ad to meet my needs – and in some cases, rewarding me with a discount as well.

So, who doesn’t do remarketing so well?
You’d be surprised at some of the big brands who get it wrong. Take Sage as an example; I have a Sage Accounting and Payroll package that I use on a near daily basis. But the ad I see on RTE is an ad asking me to try Sage One for Free! Sounds like a great incentive! But I’ve already got the package, and they can (for example) exclude anyone who has visited the app to view their Account, so this is a wasted impression on me.

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Other poor examples of remarketing campaigns are companies who don’t put an impression cap on their ads (so the ad could show endlessly), even if you keep ignoring it by not clicking on it. This is can be very frustrating, particularly if the ads are a brand-led generic message that are only targeted to you because you’ve visited the site once and only viewed one page. In this case I only had to view the M&S homepage once before being continuously served the ad below across multiple websites:

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Personalised ads, personalised choice
Today’s Waitrose homepage takeover is good example to round off the concept  of personalised ads- They are encouraging visitors to build a list of offers that are specific to them. They’ll likely then use this data selection again to further personalise ad space to me in the future, but if it saves a few pounds on the shopping, then great!

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It’s just a pity there are no Waitrose stores within 100 miles of me:
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In fact, Waitrose doesn’t exist in Ireland and the last whispers of a Waitrose coming to anywhere north or south of the border was nearly 10 years ago. Did I say good example?!


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