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Cracking Examples of Effective Remarketing and How to Compete

Samantha Noble

by Samantha Noble on 10th July 2012

Over the past 12 months I have seen remarketing grow significantly and the campaigns have been extremely creative and effective. It is surprisingly cost-effective when compared to other forms of display advertising making it very appealing for advertisers.

In this post I am going to show you:

  1. A bit of information on the cookie law
  2. Some brilliant examples of remarketing campaigns
  3. Ideas for building a good audience
  4. A list of remarketing platforms
  5. Final tips you need to remember

Cookie Law

Prior to the implementation of the Cookie Law, there was a lot of concern over how sites like Google AdWords and Criteo would cope as remarketing is heavily reliant on cookies. Although some areas of the cookie law are a little grey, advertisers have been able to get round it by implicitly telling visitors that they use cookies and giving them an option to opt out.

One really good example of the opt out I found was on thetrainline.com. As you can see below, they ask visitors how they would prefer thetrainline.com to use their data giving the option to opt in and opt out to different forms of marketing.

Whether you are already doing remarketing or are looking to start, you need to ensure that you are compliant with the cookie law. Avinash Kaushik wrote a brilliant post on the EU Cookie Law / Privacy Laws and the implications on data collection and analysis.

Great Examples of Remarketing

I have seen some great examples of remarketing over the past few months and have been saving them up to share with you. Some are doing basic remarketing whilst others are so targeted that it makes it very hard for you not to notice the adverts!

One thing to remember is that even if you are using AdWords for your remarketing campaigns, all traffic that visits your site will be added into your remarketing audience regardless of the channel they used to reach you.

Karen Millen

Whilst looking for a dress for a wedding I have coming up this year, I visited the Karen Millen website. There were three dresses in particular that really took my fancy so I made a mental note to pop down to the nearest store and try them on. However, before I got a chance to go to the shop I was being followed around with adverts on various websites displaying the exact dresses that I was looking for. The end result….. I bought one of them!

Once I bought the dress, Karen Millen stopped showing me targeted remarketing adverts and went back to basics ads simply promoting their brand. Clever stuff!


After looking at a number of hotels for the SearchLove conference, I went to booking.com to see how their pricing compared with booking the hotel directly. I didn’t book the hotel straight away and left the site whilst I had a think about where I wanted to stay.

The next day, whilst reading the Mashable blog, a rotating advert for booking.com appeared at the top of the screen showing me all the different hotels I had looked at the previous day.

I have since been back to booking.com and booked a room at one of the hotels. What is clever here is that I am still being followed with an advert but the hotel that I booked is no longer in the rotating ad.

Stannah Stairlifts

This ad has been following me since I was doing some research into the stairlift market. Of the remarketing that I have seen, this is one of the most basic but still very effective methods.

Stannah haven’t shown me a specific ad related to a page that I visited on their site, instead I am seeing a generic banner marketing their brand and products at a top level. When we think of stair lifts, most will immediately think of Stannah and I am sure they are aware of this as their adverts are not heavily branded until the last rotation of the ad.


Another simple but effective remarketing ad was from Specsavers. I was looking to get my eyes tested and visited the Specsavers site to look for a store nearest to me. Since then, I have been followed by an advert from Specsavers reminding me that I need to get my eye test booked in.

Because I called and booked an eye test with the store directly, they don’t know that I have already converted so keep following me round. If you are unable to track all conversions it may be worthwhile limiting the number of times you follow a person round as seeing the same advert that isn’t relevant may get annoying.

If you are just trying to reinforce your brand message, you may decide to keep your ads running all the time but this is something that will differ depending on the type of business you are in and your overall marketing goals.


Of all the examples I have given, the one for confused.com is definitely my favourite. This morning, I went to their site to get a quote for my car insurance which is due for renewal. Within 30 seconds of leaving the site and visiting Mashable, I was displayed an advert that contained the top three cheapest quotes that was returned in my car insurance quote search.

This is genius and as I said previously, a form of remarketing that I haven’t seen done anywhere else. If confused.com don’t get a high conversion rate from their remarketing campaigns I would be very surprised. I know I will be going back online and getting my policy from them later on today :)

How to Set Up a Remarketing Campaign

I am not going to go into detail here as my colleague Oliver Ewbank covered this nicely in a previous post. If you want to have a look at the post, click here.

Creative Audience Building

As we have seen with the above examples, there are a number of ways that you can advertise using remarketing and the trick to getting it right is all in the initial audience setup. I have come up with some ideas that could be used across all types of websites in order to get remarketing working effectively.

Converting Customers

The first list you should start to build is a list of all the people that come onto your website and convert. The remarketing code should be added to the final page of your conversion funnel. You can then use this list for a number of ways:

  1. Alongside your other lists to ensure you aren’t remarketing to customers who have already converted
  2. To specifically target already converted customers with a unique returning customer discount, deal or offer
  3. To highlight new products to already converted customers

Product / Service Specific

This has to be one of the highest converting forms of remarketing but it can be very time consuming to set up.

Let’s take an ecommerce site like John Lewis for this example. John Lewis already do remarketing in this way so they are a perfect choice as you can visit their site after reading this post and see their remarketing in action.

John Lewis will have added different remarketing code to each product listed on their website. If you visit their site and browse through a selection of products, John Lewis know what you have looked at and tailor the adverts that follow you to display the items you have browsed.

By setting up remarketing in such a targeted way you can:

  1. Follow people round displaying the product until they buy it from you
  2. Begin remarketing to people who have looked at a product but not brought if you decide to put a discount on the product
  3. Match up related products and use your remarketing list to follow people who you know are interested in a certain product type or product line
  4. Create banners with limited time call to actions to entice purchases (see example from booking.com above)

All Site Visitors

Having the same code across all pages of your website is the most basic form of remarketing. I would advise this form of remarketing for two reasons:

  1. Increased brand awareness as you can display the same advert to all visitors who have visited your site
  2. If you don’t get much traffic to your site, it will take longer to build highly targeted lists so having site wide code will speed this process up
  3. If time is a concern, remarketing code site wide is very easy to set up as the code can be placed in the footer template of your site (if you have one)

Abandoned Shopping Carts

People often put products into the shopping cart on a website but don’t actually convert. These people are highly qualified and are often very close to purchasing but something has distracted them from buying the first time round. Remember to exclude people who have actually converted as you don’t want to waste marketing spend on these customers.

In order to set this up you will need to place the code on your shopping cart page.

Member Area

Some websites have a member login area where existing customers, clients and members can login to find out more information about a specific product or service they have bought. Insurance websites are a prime example for this.

By adding the remarketing code onto the pages behind the login area you would be able to target people that are already customers with specific messages relating to additional benefits, services or products they should be aware of. This will help build up your returning customer conversions at very little cost.

Time of Year

Creating timely lists can be very effective if you know that you sell more during certain times of the year. For example, Valentines Day, Mothers Day, Fathers Day, Christmas and Easter can often yield a higher return in certain industries.

If this is the case for you, setting up a list that stores the data for all people who view your site in the lead up to a specific event can be great for remarketing the following year. If someone has visited your site in the lead up to Valentine’s Day, you know they are interested in what you have to offer. By storing the list for the following year, you can commence your remarketing campaign to try and entice them back to your site to make a purchase.

Different Remarketing Platforms

There are a number of different platforms that are available to advertisers looking to start remarketing. I haven’t got experience with all of them but wanted to provide a comprehensive list for you to review and decide which one is most suited to your marketing requirements.

  1. Google AdWords
  2. Criteo
  3. Acquisio
  4. AOL
  5. Chango
  6. Adroll
  7. DoubleClick
  8. Simpli.fi
  9. Magnetic
  10. Yahoo
  11. Retargeter
  12. Bizo

If you have any other platforms that you have tried and tested I would love to hear about them in a comment at the end of this post. Likewise, if you have used any of the above services and are able to leave a comment with your experience of the platform, it would be greatly appreciated.


I hope you have found this post useful and if you aren’t already doing remarketing then it is time to start. Even if you don’t want to kick start a campaign in the near future, you should be building up your audiences as you can’t start remarketing without having at least 500 people to remarket to. The code can sit on your site and start building the lists in the background until you are ready to use them.

Some final pointers and tips to consider before I end the post:

  • Create a variety of eye catching, targeted adverts
  • The more targeted your campaigns are, the higher your conversion rate will be
  • Adverts can take time to be approved so build this into your plan and upload them to the advertising platform at least two weeks before you want to go live
  • Frequency capping is very important
  • Run Placement Reports to see which sites your ads are appearing on. Some will perform better than others and you can exclude sites that don’t work for you
  • On average 97% of users tend to leave a website without converting
  • Create adverts in all available formats to reach as much of your audience as possible
  • Start building lists NOW!



Samantha Noble

Samantha Noble

Samantha Noble is the Marketing Director at Koozai; having worked within the marketing industry for over nine years, Sam has a plethora of marketing knowledge. With a strong understanding of digital marketing techniques, Sam will be covering all aspects of search and the industry in general.

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  • Samantha Noble

    Samantha Noble 10th July 2012

    I have also seen some other examples this week including Thomas Cook following me with ads for holidays I have checked out on their website. I love remarketing :)

    Reply to this comment

  • David McLean 10th July 2012

    Great post Sam, I wonder what proportion of visitors who are re-targeted find them annoying though?

    Also to add to your list would be struq http://www.struq.com they are very similar to other solutions but I think have less stringency on templates which allows far more customisation of the ads.

    Reply to this comment

    • Samantha Noble

      Samantha Noble 10th July 2012

      I think that frequency capping is key to a successful remarketing campaign especially if you are following people with ads for something very specific. This is easy enough to set up and should stop people getting annoyed seeing old ads.

      Thanks for recommending Struq for the Remarketing Platforms List!

      Reply to this comment

  • Dan Roche 11th July 2012

    Nice post Samantha. I have found that remarketing for B2B sites is very effective if you don’t use frequency capping as most users wouldn’t have a clue what remarketing is and just think that the company buys a lot of external advertising space.

    Wonder is there a way that you can generate a bulk list of remarketing codes?

    Reply to this comment

    • Samantha Noble

      Samantha Noble 12th July 2012

      Thanks for the comment Dan. We have used remarketing at Koozai and have found it very effective and on a top of our campaigns we don’t use the frequency capping as the campaigns are for increasing brand awareness.

      I am not sure if there is a way of creating bulk remarketing codes. Something I am going to look into as that would be very helpful!

      Reply to this comment

    • Eline 16th August 2012

      I agree with Dan, Re-marketing is an effective technique to B2B sites.

      Reply to this comment

  • Jonathan 11th July 2012

    Great post, lots of new information and interesting case studies. Most of my clients don’t see the value, but these are some great examples of success stories.

    Reply to this comment

    • Samantha Noble

      Samantha Noble 12th July 2012

      I think these kind of examples can help clients to see the value as the conversion rate for remarketing, if done in the right way can be very impressive.

      As I have said in the post, it is worthwhile getting the code on the site to build the audience even if your client isn’t looking to use it yet.

      Reply to this comment

  • Cody Boyte 13th July 2012

    I think remarketing can work well, especially for consumer brands. For more B2B companies, like the one I work for, remarketing seems to work best when you don’t use frequency capping but instead restrict the sites the ads appear on to contextually relevant locations.

    For example, our product is for investment bankers and private equity groups. When use regular retargeting, without the ability to target locations, we start showing up in places like okcupid.com that is completely out of context for us. It just makes our ads seem creepy.

    They can be extremely successful if used well though.

    Reply to this comment

  • Anthony Matejcich 14th July 2012

    Wow, some fantastic information here, covering so many things, thank you.

    I am learning more and more about the search engine optimisation world and am very interested in how you are marketing also.

    One thing that I did notice is the image and reference to Google Display Network – this has confused me for some time now and would love some more information about it.

    Look fwd to reading more, thank you

    Reply to this comment

    • Samantha Noble

      Samantha Noble 17th July 2012

      What part of the Display Network has confused you as we may be able to pull together a separate blog post to address some of your questions.

      Glad you enjoyed the post.

      Reply to this comment

  • Ravi Sodha 6th November 2012

    Great post Sam!

    What value do you put on View-Through conversions?

    I get more of them than I do Click-Through conversions (in a small test I ran). This is expected as the customer has visited the site before. Any tips to prove the Remarketing ad had an impact?


    Reply to this comment

    • Samantha Noble

      Samantha Noble 7th November 2012

      Thanks for your comment and glad that you found the post useful.

      I think View-through Conversions are important to measure and monitor but I don’t place as much value on them as I do actual conversions. The great thing about remarketing is that it is continuously sending subliminal messages to your potential customers. Even if they don’t convert directly from an advert, seeing your ads following them round will certainly be helping.

      One thing that I find useful is showing a client the types of sites their ads have been appearing on, using the Network tab in AdWords. If you can show them how many sites and how many impressions their ads get (usually for a much lower cost) this should help.

      Other than that, I am not aware of any reporting that will actually prove the remarketing ad impacted a conversion but the above should help explain the benefits.

      Hope this helps.

      Reply to this comment

  • Ravi Sodha 8th November 2012

    The definitely helps! Thanks!

    Not sure if you guys have written about this before but a post on effect image ads for remarketing would be great! Hard to do specific examples but key things you have learnt would be great.


    Reply to this comment

  • Samantha Noble

    Samantha Noble 8th November 2012

    Thanks Ravi, glad to have been able to help.

    I will have a think about the blog post idea and let you know if we come up with something suitable.

    Reply to this comment

  • Alen Todorov 19th June 2013

    When I want to check for myself if remarketing works per se I usually visit an website full of Google Ads or http://whoisretargeting.me/

    Reply to this comment

  • james 10th December 2013

    Thanks for these examples. Very useful. We also published a 27 page guide to remarketing with some examples from the travel space and SaaS space. You can read it here: http://www.onenetmarketing.com/oneblog/adwords-remarketing

    Reply to this comment

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