Traditional retargeting has been around for quite some time. It’s no secret that if someone was recently on your website, there’s a good chance that they’re in the market for whatever it is that you’re selling, and it’s therefore a good best practice to tag your site visitors and serve ads to them. But in recent years, savvy marketers have been realizing more and more that there’s actually a number of ways to leverage the visitors of someone else’s website to expand a retargeting program, opening up a whole new opportunity for scale. In this article, we’ll go through the different options out there, some best practices on how to operate an expanded retargeting program, and some things to look out for while getting set up.
From Facebook launching a “share pixel” feature to old-school pixel swapping to partnership marketing platforms, there are a number of ways to tag the visitors of someone else’s website and serve ads to them, particularly on Facebook & Instagram. Depending on your specific needs, you’re likely to find one or more of the below five approaches most helpful.
Repixel (recommended): Repixel is a Facebook approved app and it’s free to access the marketplace. There’s no minimum to get started and it’s pay as you go. Direct retargeting is the backbone of the product, but once the partner’s pixel has been shared from their Business Manager to yours, you can also create a lookalike from directly within Audience Manager.
Email your pixel: It’s old-school, but it works. On almost all ad networks, if you copy/paste your tracking pixel and have a partner place it on their website, the pixel will start tracking their visitors. From there, you can easily spin up a custom audience using “URL Contain PartnerSite.com”, and you’ll have a functioning audience to serve ads against. Even though this technically works, there are two major drawbacks. For one, you have to manage the entire process manually. This includes cold emailing potential partners, drafting up contracts, sending payments, the works. But even more importantly, this approach is explicitly disallowed by several major ad networks, most notably Facebook. Within Facebook’s walled garden, if you want to use someone else’s pixel data to retarget their site, you have to use Facebook’s built-in “share pixel” functionality and keep everything within their ecosystem.
If you operate on smaller networks such as Quora & Twitter, emailing your pixel is a viable option, albeit a manual one.
Perfect Audience (owned Marin Software; MRIN (NASDAQ)): Perfect Audience has a “Connect” program that will let you retarget someone else’s website. However, no marketplace is currently available, so while their tech will get the job done, you really need to have partners in mind in order to get value. In addition, it’s a “trading” model, so you have to let a partner retarget your site if you want to retarget theirs.
Wove (formerly TapFwd): Unlike Perfect Audience, Wove does have a marketplace, but instead of being pay as you go, you pay an all-access fee to get an account. Pricing depends on your negotiation skills but can be in the thousands. In addition, Wove does not offer website visitor retargeting — instead, it’s a lookalike exchange. Lastly, similar to Perfect Audience, Wove has a “swapping” model, so if you want to leverage someone else’s pixel data for lookalikes, you have to let them access yours.
DojoMojo: A bit different than web retargeting, but with DojoMojo you can partner with other brands to reach their audience by paying to be mentioned in their newsletter.
What are some best practices?
Create lookalikes. Once you’ve found a partner website that has a high performing audience, expand your reach by creating a lookalike. As the shared pixel accumulates visitors over time, the seed lists you’ve created for your lookalikes will continue to refresh which will keep your lookalikes up to date.
Think outside the box. Sometimes the best audiences aren’t in your industry. For example, if you sell a joint pain supplement, a blog about joint pain relief and a review website ranking the best joint pain remedies would obviously be excellent partners, but so might a blog about golfing or hiking.
Customize your ad creative for different partners. Expanding on the joint pain example, when retargeting the visitors of a golf blog, you know the people in this audience are golfers AND have joint pain, so don’t forget to use both pieces of information when crafting your ads.
Save searches. By saving a search you’ll be able to 1) access that search query again without needing to set up all of your filters over and over, and 2) get notified if a new website is added to the marketplace that falls within your parameters, although you can turn this off.
Request site owners that aren’t currently in the marketplace. If you have a website in mind that you’d like to retarget but it doesn’t exist in the marketplace, that doesn’t necessarily mean the owner of the website wouldn’t be willing to work with you if you ask. Let Repixel take care of the legwork by navigating to the bottom left of the marketplace and clicking “request a company”.
Leverage exclusions. Retargeting other sites is a great way to find the right people to serve ads to, but it’s also a great way to find people that you shouldn’t send ads to. For example, let’s say you own a health food brand. Retargeting Whole Foods, Dr. Mercola, and Nutrisystem would be great picks as partners, but you might want to team up with companies that sell cigars and Twinkies as well. It’s probably fair to assume that people shopping for these products aren’t in the market for dried kale, so if you exclude them (and even a lookalike of them) from your campaigns, you’re likely to see a boost in performance.
Above all, as with everything digital advertising, test and learn. Instead of sending out just one repixel request, start out by sending 4-7. Break the audiences out into separate ad sets (with customized creative!), monitor performance granularly, and optimize.
Cost will vary by platform, but within Repixel, each site has its own monthly fee, determined by the person who owns the website.
When the campaign is wrapped up and it’s time to analyze the results, including the fee that you pay for the audience is, of course, an extra line item when calculating your cost pers, but if all goes to plan, the bump you see in CVR and CTR will more than compensate for that $100 you spent on the audience. After all, there’s no reason someone would possibly be on http://www.Top-10-Whiskeys.com unless they were actively in the market for whiskey.
Is retargeting other sites a good fit for my business?
It depends. If your business sells a very general product or service where the purchasing behavior isn’t timing specific, you’re probably okay to rely on ad network’s built-in targeting functionality. For example, if the audience you’d like to target is all women, ages 18-35, who live in the United States, Facebook has you covered. But if your audience is a specific type of person who is looking for a specific product at a specific time, retargeting other sites is definitely going to be worth a test. Here are a few of the specific benefits:
- Timing. Targeting people who have “expressed interest” in accounting software via an ad network’s UI, for example, is very different than targeting people who just days ago were on a review website ranking the best accounting platforms available.
- Scale: Traditional retargeting of your own website is great, but it’s limited in scale to the number of people who have visited your website. Assuming you want to grow your business faster than recycling through your existing visitors, at some point, you’ll have to branch out.
- Getting niche: Lookalikes and interest-based audiences work to an extent, but these are built on black-box algorithms that tend to be in the millions, and it can be very difficult to find a good-fit audience within ad networks for a niche product that’s large enough to drive meaningful traffic.
- More customized ad creative: As mentioned with the join pain example above, if you know a bit about your prospect’s browsing activity, you’re able to create much more customized ad creative.
How it works, step by step
Retargeting someone else’s website through Repixel starts with visiting the marketplace.
To start, apply some filters on the left-hand side of the page based on your business model. As mentioned earlier, make sure to save your search so you’re notified of new sites that are listed that meet your criteria in the future.
When you find a site you like, click into the listing page, and send your Repixel request:
Once you’ve sent out your request, the owner of the website will get an email letting them know that you’d like to retarget their visitors. If they deem you non-competitive, they’ll click “accept”, and proceed to spin up a brand new pixel within their Facebook Business Manager account and share it with yours. From there, you’ll be able to attach that pixel to your ad account(s) and start building custom audiences just as you would with your own pixel, but instead of selecting your pixel, simply toggle theirs.
Listing your own website
To participate as an advertiser in the Repixel marketplace, it’s not required to list your website, but doing so is quick & free.
If your core business model is selling a product, there’s no shame in focusing on that and leveraging the marketplace exclusively as an advertiser. But if monetizing your site through other means (i.e. display ads or affiliate links) is part of your business, posting your site to Repixel can be a healthy new revenue stream that won’t cannibalize your existing business or cause you to litter your website with more banners. After all, if your advertisers are having success reaching your audience via display ads, there’s a very good chance that they’ll have the same success (if not more?) reaching your audience via large-scale ad networks such as Facebook & Instagram as well.