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Jun 16
What is search retargeting?

What is: search retargeting?

Today’s marketers have a hefty toolbox full of different channels, tactics, and formats to create the ideal strategy that achieves positive business outcomes. From display advertising, search advertising, and paid social to email marketing, these channels, tactics, and formats have morphed to have multiple uses and even overlap each other.

With the growing usage of search advertising, marketers are looking for complementary tactics to combat the rising costs of highly competitive keywords. Search retargeting is one tactic that overlaps display and search advertising. Let’s get started to better understand what is search retargeting.

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What is search retargeting?

How does it work?

How is it different from site retargeting?

Benefits of search retargeting


What is search retargeting?

Search retargeting is a tactic in which you can create a custom audience of users based on their keyword search behavior and use that audience in your digital advertising campaigns to serve display ads to users as they browse outside of search results. Search retargeting enables you to combine the effectiveness of search advertising with the reach and brand impact of display advertising. You can gain more impressions and brand awareness while users are actively in-market and not limiting yourself to the “SERP” results.


How does it work?

Using specialized data partners Cross Pixel and Datonics, search retargeting is a custom audience-based targeting approach that enables the ability to reach users on other sites based on their search queries.

Custom audiences are created by utilizing keyword lists with terms that are relevant to your business or products. These lists can include broad, exact, and phrase-matched keywords.

For example, for a fishing retailer, if you wanted to serve display ads to users who have searched for “bait store” or “fishing shop,” your keyword list might look something like this:

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Cross Pixel uses its referring URL technology to gather data from Yahoo and Bing based on the intent of the captured data while a user is searching. Cross Pixel also uses the body, title, metatag, selector, URL, and referral URL of webpages as signals of user intent. Unfortunately, Cross Pixel and many other data partners are not able to gather data from Google as they do not make data available to data partners outside their ecosystem.

In addition, Cross Pixel has created over 1,300 always-on segments that are available for use on demand. These standard segments are refreshed daily and cover a wide range of consumer and business-to-business categories in North America.


How is it different from site retargeting?

Easily confused with website retargeting, which is a bottom-of-the-funnel tactic that brings previous site visitors back to your website, search retargeting is a top-of-funnel tactic that drives qualified users to your site while they are in-market.

Search retargeting and site retargeting are different tactics based on the type of users that they reach and where it fits into the marketing funnel. By using site retargeting, you are reaching users that have already visited your website but haven’t converted. In contrast, a user who is targeted by search retargeting may not have visited your website previously.

Using search retargeting, you can attract users who have conducted online searches that are relevant to the products and services you offer. Like SEO and other search advertising tactics, search retargeting depends significantly on the use of focused, related keywords and key phrases. By choosing the right keywords, you can attract the right user with high buying intent.


Benefits of search retargeting

Search retargeting is highly effective for B2C brands looking to connect with users while they are in-market. It uses intent data gathered from users showing interest in a product or solution that you offer. Search retargeting works incredibly well because it’s based on search keywords that are uniquely effective at capturing the intent of a consumer.

Think of it as a top-of-the-funnel, prospecting strategy.

Most importantly, a search retargeting strategy is a natural extension of your search advertising strategies. You can choose your keywords, real-time bidding, optimization, and use them in your display advertising strategies.

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About The Author

Megan Sullivan-Jenks is director of marketing & communications at Choozle – Easy Digital Advertising®. A self-proclaimed tinkerer, Megan's a problem solver for marketing and advertising strategies and execution. From nonprofits to consumer goods and software, she's an expert at creating online and offline marketing & communications strategies that are engaging and results-driven. Outside of the office, Megan rolls up her sleeves to enjoy all things DIY like sewing and woodworking.