A couple of weeks ago Google announced a new AdWords feature, called remarketing, that lets advertisers display their ads on the Google Content Network to users who have already visited their website. The idea is that because many of these users have an interest in the product or service you are offering, the chances of them clicking on your ad and converting are higher.
A study recently published by the Network Advertising Initiative backs up this claim. It shows that behavioral-targeted online ads are more than twice as valuable and effective  as non-targeted online ads.
The unveiling of this Google tool follows a one-year remarketing beta period. About 500 companies, including Samsung, InterContinental Hotels Group, and Armani cosmetics and fragrances, took part in the product test.
What are some key benefits of remarketing?
1. You can target people based on the page(s) they visited. Say your website has three product pages: a page showing your GPS devices for sale, a page showing your car CD players for sale, and a page showing your leather car seat covers for sale. You can insert a different code on each of these pages to track your visitors separately. When you advertise on Google , you can get the code by clicking on the Audiences tab in your AdWords account and creating “remarketing lists” for each of the pages. Under the Campaign tab you can pair up ad groups to each of your Google remarketing  lists, and the ads will be shown to the appropriate users on the Google Content Network.
2. You can target all people who visited your site with the same ads. You may choose to do this if all your product pages are pretty similar. Maybe each of your pages, for example, is devoted to a different golf club you have for sale. You might feel like pretty much anyone who checks out your “Daunting Driver,” “Precise Putter,” “Soaring Sand Wedge,” or “Impressive Iron” pages would be interested in knowing if you had a golf club sale. To target all your site’s visitors with the same ads you create just one remarketing list, and insert the same code in all your pages.
3. You can target people who left your site without buying anything. Someone may have left your site without buying anything because he or she thought your prices were too high. Maybe the person was looking for cheap flights to Croatia, but your travel agency didn’t have any round-trip tickets below $1,000. Well, say a week later you are able to sell those round-trip tickets for $800. Wouldn’t it be great to find that person and let them know about the deal? You can do that with remarketing. In this instance you must create two remarketing lists: one for all of your site’s pages and the other for your sale confirmation page. Then you can create a “custom combination list ” to show ads to all the site visitors minus those who purchased something.
4. You can target those who did not buy something they put in a shopping cart. Someone who went so far as to put an item in his shopping cart was pretty close to making a purchase. For whatever reason the person didn’t go ahead with the purchase, but that’s OK. You can track that person and start showing him ads for a special five-day 50%-off sale. That might be just enough to convince the person to buy the shopping cart item. To target shopping cart users who didn’t convert, you must create two remarketing lists: one for the view shopping cart page and one for the sale confirmation page. You can then create a custom combination list to show ads to all the view shopping cart visitors minus the sale confirmation page visitors.
5. You can target people who bought from your site. If someone was willing to buy a skirt and pair of boots from your site one day, that person might be very willing to buy more clothing from your site another day. However, that individual might need a little prompting from one of your ads. You can target this person and others who have bought from your site by pasting a tracking code on the checkout page.
6. You can control the length of time users see the ads. Pick an amount of time you think reasonable for each of your remarketing efforts, and enter these figures into the membership duration field of the different remarketing lists. Google recommends starting with the default figure of 30 days. But if you feel like your visitors might be interested in your offerings for a longer period of time, or for only a few days, feel free to adjust that figure accordingly.
7. You can eventually use remarketing with interest category marketing. Remarketing is the first of two interest-based advertising options that Google is unveiling. The second option, which is still in beta form, will be interest category marketing. It will let advertisers reach users that fit into particular categories as they browse the Google Content Network. For example, an advertiser will be able to choose to have his ads shown to an auto enthusiast, sports enthusiast or travel enthusiast. The interest categories will be based on type of sites the users tend to visit.
What are some drawbacks of remarketing?
1. Users can opt out of remarketing. They can opt out by going to Google Ads Preferences  and clicking the Opt Out button. By doing this Google won’t store information in a cookie about the sites the person visited. While this option can ease users’ privacy concerns, it also means that your pool of people to remarket to is reduced in size. Still, many people many not realize remarketing is taking place. Plus, others may not know how to access Google Ads Preferences or know they have the option.
2. Many Safari users won’t be targeted by remarketing. That is because the Safari browser, (Apple’s default browser) disables third-party cookies by default. Chances are a large percentage of these users have not enabled third-party cookies in their settings. While Safari only had a 4.45 percent browser market share in February , that figure still represents millions of people. It is also worth noting that users of other browsers who have disabled cookies can’t be remarketed to.
3. Some users may be turned off by companies who remarket. If users notice that a certain company is showing them ads on lots of sites they visit, they might eventually get a little peeved. They may feel like their privacy is being invaded, or that they would prefer seeing ads relevant to the sites they are visiting. Either way, the company’s remarketing efforts could backfire and prompt the user to avoid giving them business.
For more information about setting up remarketing, check out this helpful Portent Interactive blog post .
Photo credit: http://www.flickr.com/photos/nostri-imago/3137422976/