In the real world, when is a consumer least likely to purchase a given product? Right after he or she purchased that product, of course. Online consumers are no different. Yet, that is the core concept behind retargeting, and therein is both the intrinsic issue with retargeting, as well as, the growing need for something different—for something better.
The Dynamics of Marketing
As online advertising technology advances, the algorithms that dictate how and when marketers target users have become increasingly complex. Still, though, the algorithms are rooted in a backwards methodology—namely, the aforementioned retargeting.
What is Retargeting?
Retargeting is what it is called when advertisers direct promotions or products at internet users who have recently visited the given company’s website. Retargeting also refers to when a company advertises based on a user’s keyword search in a search engine, which this method is not so bad. In fact, when retargeting is backed by an array of complex processes that are improving every day, it works just fine. But working just fine is not good enough. Meeting the minimum requirements is never a compelling reason to maintain the status quo, which is where pretargeting comes in.
What is Pretargeting?
Pretargeting, also known as “inference advertising” and “anticipation marketing,” is the intuitive evolution of retargeting. Where retargeting relies on after-the-fact overtures to potential consumers, pretargeting anticipates or predicts what a consumer needs and when a consumer needs it. In layman’s terms: Pretargeting identifies users that are most likely to want to visit a company’s site, and, using that information, pitches a targeted advertisement for the company’s site to that user.
Pretargeting information is collected in much the same way as retargeting information is gathered. Pretargeting utilizes the same type of technology, albeit in pursuit of a slightly different endgame. Where retargeting advertises on behalf of the sites a user previously visited, pretargeting identifies the websites a user visits, and then begins promotion before the user ever finds anadvertiser’s own website.
Since pretargeting is based on a user’s behaviorbeforehand, if a user visits a
particular site, pretargeting can forecast what that user is looking for, and then customize a personalized marketing pitch specifically to and for that user. This allows companies to poach customers from competitors.
What really sets pretargeting apart is how representative the approach is. It allows advertisers to make marketing assessments based on a broad range of data, including sundry attributes and factors. This is in stark contrast to retargeting, which relies on only a few data points to draw a relatively general conclusion: Since a user visited a company’s website, then the user is a potential customer of that website. The logic is reductive and, worse, ignores a large percentage of potential customers—that is, those internet users who want or are seeking the product an advertiser offers, but have not yet visited the advertiser’s website. In addition, those are the truly desirable customers because, if a user is already visiting an advertiser’s webpage, it is quite reasonable to assume that he or she is aware of what the advertiser sells.
The beauty of pretargeting is that it allows a company’s marketing techniques to hit the sweet spot of the right advertisement to the right audience at the right time. To accomplish this, acompany creates a profile of its ideal customer in such a way that the profile incorporates insights into behavior, environment, socio-economics, as well as personality, values, opinions, attitudes, interests, and lifestyles. This raw data will thendictate the marketing approach a company ought to take, resulting in a more nuanced and pointed methodology that increases conversions and decreases costs.
Predictive advertising is becoming more and more necessary, particularly within industries that already have an incredibly diverse and composite target audience. The trouble with an increased number of companies tracking internet users is that it has created an increased backlash against itin the name of internet privacy. Concerns regarding online confidentiality have beenexacerbated by a few notable public data breaches in recent years and are making consumers wary of companies that track and share their online movements. This type of suspicion could lead tointernet regulations that require companies to ask for permission from online users before targeting them with personalized marketing. If those regulations are enacted, customers will be more likely to give their consent if they recognize theirrelationship with online marketers as valuable, mutually beneficial relationship rather than bothersome one.
The potential for future regulation in the realm of online marketing necessitates that marketers takea more delicate approach to advertisements than retargeting can offer. After all, the nature of retargeting is such that it pummels internet users with a volley of advertisements that are often poorly-timed or altogether redundant. This style might annoy consumers or, worse, create a culture of distrust between consumers and online marketers, which, in turn, makes it less likely that a consumer will give his or her permission to be tracked for online advertising purposes. Pretargeting, on the other hand, avoids those pitfalls by remaining relatively unobtrusive until it is the right place, time, and audience to market a particular product.
Pretargeting is truly the online marketing approach of the future. It outclasses retargeting in just about every category, all while using the same basic building blocks. The transition to pretargetingis an eventuality for any online marketer that wishes to stay relevant. It is no longer a question of if, rather a question of when. Companies that want to succeed in the online marketing world need to make the adjustment before it is too late.