Rocket's View on Remarketing & Display

In 2017, Rocket was recognised as the preeminent Display & Remarketing Agency in Australia when we won the Google Premier Partners award for Innovation in Display. We were awarded this honour for work completed on behalf of our client Plus Fitness. This led to the Rocket team being flown to New York by Google to represent the Australia / New Zealand region in the Display Innovation category of Google Premier Partner awards. We are excited to report that we have recently been named a finalist in the same category in the 2018 awards.

Having received such distinguished recognition, we do like to think we know a little about the Display space and how to craft best-practice campaigns.

By 2019 it is estimated that across the globe, daily time spent online (170.6 minutes daily) will marginally surpass time spent watching TV (170.3 minutes daily). Of course, many demographics are already spending considerably more time online than watching TV, but the above statistics represent all age groups across the entire globe!

With the ever-increasing volume of eyeballs focused on digital screens it is no surprise that brands continue to spend increasingly more in digital advertising over TV or any other medium. In Australia alone, advertisers spent $3.1bn across general display online in FY2017. Purchasing digital ad inventory is now the go-to for most advertisers, replacing TV time slots, magazine placements, radio ads and newspapers. This is further exacerbated by the fact that the barrier to entry for buying online ad space is much lower than traditional forms of media.

So, with an ever-increasing market place for advertising potential, combined with so many ways to buy inventory and target users, how should you approach your digital display and remarketing campaigns? We will outline some of the no-nonsense approaches that we find work time and time again.

First, let’s define exactly what we are talking about. From the most basic viewpoint, we would classify Display Advertising as purchased internet ad inventory with the intent to prospect leads, drive brand awareness and acquire traffic to a website. Remarketing (also known as retargeting) is purchasing the same ad inventory, however adverts are shown to people who have already viewed your website (or engaged with your business in another way), typically with the aim to reengage their interest in your product or service.

Related: Clicks Vs Performance - Looking Past CTR's on Banner Ads

Display Remarketing

A 2015 research report produced by global advertising consulting firm McKinsey, showed that companies with more digital capabilities across channels were able to convert sales at 2.5x greater than those with fewer touchpoints. This echoes the old “advertising rule of 7” – that consumers need to see an ad seven times before they buy.

When considering how your brand can engage with customers and increase its brand presence, Display Remarketing provides one of the simplest and most cost-effective means to do so.

As mentioned above, remarketing ads are served as digital display ads to people who have previously visited your website and been cookied on their browser, then shown to them on display networks as they browse other websites.

We have all seen them and the mystery behind them is long gone now. In the early days of remarketing our customers would comment “Wow, you guys must be huge – I saw your advert on the New York Times!”.  Little did they know, it was just a remarketing advert. These days people are much more attuned to seeing remarketing creative and typically know the logic behind them. So much so, that many clever shoppers will visit ecommerce websites, add items to their cart, leave and wait to get served a remarking ad with a discount code before going back to make the final purchase.

Some companies are still wary of being seen as “stalkers” and are hesitant to use remarketing. However, at the end of the day, your customer is going to see an ad on whatever site they are on, so it may as well be something that is relevant to them, i.e. your business! The free internet works because publishers provide content that you want to digest in return from making money from advertising, so you may as well embrace it.

"Even though most consumers are aware of what remarketing is - does that make it any less effective?"

The short answer is no. From a psychological perspective, the simple act of having your ads register in the customer’s brain will help influence buying decisions. Think of it like this – just because somebody knows they are seeing a billboard by the roadside, does not mean that the advert is not having a subconscious influence on them. Provided of course that the messaging and brand proposition itself is strong.

With this in mind, it is no a brainer that you should be running remarketing. In many instances, businesses find they actually acquire good conversions from remarketing traffic. Many customers can be spurred on or reminded to take action because of having seen a remarketing ad. Typically, people who click through from these adverts have a high-level of commercial intent as they have previously visited your website and are now coming back for a second time. Additionally, the cost-per-click to bring the customer back is much lower than the initial cost of acquisition (say from search for example).

So, you are convinced of the benefits of utilising display remarketing for your business, how do you craft the best campaigns? There will be many factors for consideration and this is where your marketing team or agency need to provide guidance. We will outline some of the core elements to think about below:

Sales Cycle: What is the business you are in? If you are selling multi-million-dollar software, the way you will want to touch your prospects will be very different to an emergency plumber. One business might take a year to close a deal, while the other is likely to have a sales window of only a few days. You will need to consider:

  • Retargeting audience longevity - do you want ads to be shown to people 1 day, 15 days, 30 days, 180 days after having visited your website.
  • Frequency – do you want customers to see your ads one time per day or 7 times per day.

Creative & Messaging: What is the purpose of your remarketing adverts. Are you looking to influence an immediate buying decision with a compelling offer? Do you want to promote your brand as a thought leader and remarket with some of your content? As you are reading this, chances are you will now be in Rocket’s remarketing pool. Once you leave our website, you will see that we remarket with content as opposed to a ‘Buy Now’ mentality. The thought being that we will position ourselves as the go-to digital agency when it comes time for you to engage your next agency (hopefully!).

Similar thought needs to go into the actual creative. Will you run static image ads? Will motion based adverts catch the eye more? What is your CTA? What images are you using?

Segmentation: Depending on how sophisticated your remarketing strategy is, segmenting your audience based off where your customer is at in the sales cycle will no doubt improve the campaign performance.

From a basic standpoint you may likely want to exclude site visitors who have visited a Thank-You page from your remarketing as they may have already converted.

Using Analytics and customer data, you are able to slice and dice your customers into any number of buckets, who can then be shown different creative or messaging. Thought needs to be applied as to how best to do this for your business.

Placements: An often-forgotten part of remarketing strategy is placement. That is where your adverts going to be seen. As the system works off cookies, your ad can potentially be seen on any publisher website that your site visitor goes to next. Many brands do not want their adverts to be seen on a website which poses a level of ‘brand risk’ via association. Furthermore, they don’t want their ad-spend supporting these websites. Your digital team needs to pay attention to where placements are occurring and exclude those not aligned with your business.

There have been instances where consumers have instigated boycotts against brands who have ads appearing on websites that they were ethically against. The Breitbart news network in America had consumers boycotting any advertisers showing ads on their website last year. There were instances where people registered complaints against advertisers, but the Ads being shown in some cases were just remarketing ads, not actually display buy-outs on the site itself. The point is, make sure you have a good exclusion list in place to keep your brand away from any hot-water.

Display Advertising

Display advertising follows many of the same principles we have just covered in the remarketing section above. However, general display ads are focused more on brand awareness and prospecting. General display ads are not shown to previous site visitors, rather they use varying forms of targeting to hopefully get your brand ad in front of the right audience. Think of them just a like digital billboard but powered with data, intelligence and incredible audience targeting capabilities.

Unlike remarketing, display advertising is by no means considered a ‘no-brainer’ as part of your digital marketing mix. There are a number of considerations for evaluating the channel as a viable option for your business. We will outline these below:

Budget: When we speak to clients about possible display prospecting campaigns, budget is always the first consideration. When evaluating the channel purely on last click return on investment, Display can often appear less competitive than others. If a client has limited media to spend on a campaign and there is opportunity to max out budget in Search, chances are we will advise to spend there first as the return is likely to be much greater. If a client has larger means or is maxed out in other channels than Display can open up some new opportunities.

Strategy:  Evaluating the desired strategic outcome of a Display campaign is the second port of call. What exactly is the business trying to achieve? It could be any number of things such as:

  • Raise Brand Awareness
  • Drive Traffic
  • Top-of-Funnel Acquisition
  • Relevant Publisher Website Takeover

There needs to be a clearly defined strategy for any display campaign and results should be aligned and measured accordingly.

Targeting: Provided a business has budget and a strategic outcome in mind, the next phase of evaluation for a successful display campaign is what kind of targeting is available. This is where display gets a little more interesting. Every year Ad Networks get more sophisticated with the type of targeting and audience data they make available.

Unlike when we talk about Search, which is dominated by Google and Bing in Australia, there are more players than just Google in the display space. However, for the purpose of this we will talk about the Google Display Network (GDN) and the targeting features available in it.

  • Placement – Targeting by choosing certain websites to have ads shown on.
  • Contextual – Targeting based on chosen keywords appearing on websites on the network.
  • Interest – Targeting based off a consumer’s interests. E.g. Travel Ads for people interested in travel.
  • Topics – Targeting based off topics, similar to interest.
  • Geographic, Language and Demographic – Self-explanatory targeting based off these attributes.
  • Custom Intent – A new feature realsed by Google which allows display ads to be targeted to people who have performed a particular key-word search. (probably the most powerful form of targeting)

As marketers we can also build audiences based off combinations of these targeting methods too.


There are some problems we typically see with display campaigns that companies should be aware of. Display media buying has traditionally been the cash-cow of larger media agencies, which often have murky arrangements with publisher websites. Clients (typically bigger companies) of these agencies would often receive no transparency with how media was spent, actual cost-per-impression or agency mark-up on media. As such the true ROI on campaigns would be hard to ascertain. If a client put $100k into a campaign they wouldn’t know how much was going to buy actual inventory as compared to lining the media agency pockets or tech-platform fees.

Ad Fraud and viewability are other problem areas. As publisher websites effectively make money from ad clicks and impressions, there is risk that bots or fake clicks may be taking place to jack up revenue for the site or ads don’t actually appear correctly and thus effect the viewability rates.

Problems aside, with the right budget, strategy and available targeting, it is possible to run highly effective display campaigns

What Next?

Rocket Agency has a wealth of expertise in the display and remarketing space. We believe in well thought-out, strategically driven and transparent campaigns. With the in-house capabilities to deliver on creative, messaging, landing-page experience and campaign build and optimisation we can help you build an award-winning campaign too.

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