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Understanding the What and Why of Ad Retargeting

Zach Brooke

Of all the new must-have digital marketing strategies brought about by the explosion in online shopping, ad retargeting is one of the most prevalent. 

Unlike the physical world, where brick-and-mortar businesses welcome window-shoppers who ultimately leave empty handed with vague promises to “think about it,” retargeting lets businesses follow up with those shoppers later on, keeping them interested and, ultimately, converting more of them to buyers. 

Retargeting, experts say, is a fancy term for a simple concept: Advertise to internet users who have viewed products or services online but left before buying by purchasing ad space on other websites.

“It’s one of the best ways to sell. It’s proven that people need to come to your website five to eight times before actually converting,” says Rocco Baldassarre, search engine marketing consultant and founder and CEO of digital marketing agency Zebra Advertisement. “The way it works is pretty straightforward. Basically you need to imagine online marketing where somebody is selling advertising space and somebody is buying it. It can only display ads on sites that are selling ad space.”

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Zach Brooke is a former AMA staff writer turned freelance journalist. His work has been featured in Chicago magazine, Milwaukee Magazine, A.V. Club and VICE, among others. Follow him on Twitter @Zach_Brooke.