Retargeting is now a common advertising tactic for online retailers and, like many people, I'm often followed across the web by a pair of trainers I looked at earlier that day. 

We interviewed behavioural targeting provider Struq about the various issues around retargeting...

Behavioural targeting is a bit of a minefield. Can you simplify the key points that you feel people need to be aware of?

Behavioural targeting is about audience buying: advertisers show users generic ads according to an audience platform’s profile data.

Behavioural retargeting is it about reconnecting with users who have visited your website with personalising creative contains the products they are in market for, in ad creative personalised to that user. 

Struq offers to advertisers both PRE:Targeting (delivering personalised behaviourally targeted ads to new in-market users), and RE:Targeting (delivering personalised retargeted ads to users who have visited the advertiser's website).

Behavioural targeting has been overshadowed a bit this year by other digital areas, but that doesn’t mean it’s not been without controversy.Do you think this is justified?

The industry has evolved significantly over time and now privacy is at the forefront of the industry. The Internet Advertising Bureau (IAB) is launching AdChoices which Struq is involved in.

The idea behind AdChoices is to educate and give the power of choice to Internet users. Individual users can access the AdChoices website and turn on or off ads (opt in/out) from different companies and access other information, such as why a user is seeing a specific ad.

Do you think the general concern over user-privacy will slow down, or even derail, certain online targeting methods?

We have found that 53% of online users admit they would perceive an advertiser more favourably if the ad were tailored to their interests and 75% cite “more control” as one of the key desires they have of online advertising.

So, an effective way of maintaining user confidence is through education, explaining exactly what retargeting and behavioural targeting is and providing tools that the user can benefit from. 

In this sense, do you feel that there are any major risks involved to organisations using personal data for targeted marketing purposes – and do you think that the benefits outweigh them?

Struq and other organisations that have signed up to the IABs Ad Choices programme do not use personal data. Struq uses non-personally identifiable information to serve personalised ads to users.

For advertisers, the main benefit of targeted advertising is that it is evolving to give tangible returns to advertisers. For every £1 our clients spend on advertising they can make £19 in revenue, a return on investment that would be impossible with traditional banner advertising and current behavioural targeting. 

Do you think users are becoming more or less accepting of targeted advertising online?

I think they are becoming more used to it. Of users that opt out of our ads, 10% choose to opt back in each month.

Combined with the other data we’ve collated, we can see that as long as education and control remain key issues for online advertisers, users will continue to be accepting of targeted advertising.  

What would you suggest are the most important things to consider, if someone were to consider using behavioural targeting (one way or another) in their online marketing strategy?

BT works best when it delivers ads that the target user actually wants to see; BT adds little value to, and can even lower the brand value of a company if the user is continually bombarded by ads that he has expressed no interest in. 

Ads have to be targeted accurately to reach users who are in the market to buy that advertiser’s products or services.

What else do you think the future holds for BT?

The evolution of behavioural targeting is the personalisation of the ads to the target audience.

The future of personalisation is delivering personalised ad experiences across the devices people use in their everyday lives. The web user will demand increasingly relevant ads and advertisers will expect increased revenue generated from targeted ads.

The user will be seen as a multi-faceted individual and not as a simple “impression”; the relationship between the user and the advertiser will become increasingly individualized.

I can see the value of retargeting but sometimes become annoyed when I am continually shown the same ads, sometimes after I have bought the product in question. How do you approach the issue of capping ad frequency to avoid annoying people? What works best?

Frequency capping is an issue we have tackled very successfully to the joy of our advertisers.

As we have historically shown that we are able to predict user click behaviour to 80%, we are able to very accurately simulate how long that user is in market for and how many ads the user needs to see. 

Through the precision of our technology, advertisers know that their ads are only shown to in market users the optimal number of times to turn them into a post click conversion. As soon as a user exceeds the number of ads to be shown to convert them into a post click conversion, or that user is out of market, the user will no longer receive ads.

Graham Charlton

Published 2 September, 2011 by Graham Charlton

Graham Charlton is the former Editor-in-Chief at Econsultancy. Follow him on Twitter or connect via Linkedin or Google+

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Comments (2)


Ian MacDonald

I agree with a lot of this and am an advocate myself of retargeting. However most surely the £19 ROI to £1 spent does not allow for the dupe, ie that some users retargeted would have returned of their own volition to convert and are using the banner simply as a short cut?

over 6 years ago


Ben Plomion

Great article Graham. A common misconception is behavioural retargeting can only be used for customers who visisted a publisher's web site. Site retargeting limits the pool of potential customers. Search and social retargeting are other ways to rertarget active customers, based on their intent. Both or them expand the reach of the ad to customers who haven't visited a publisher's site while maintaining a superior ROI.

Ben Plomion

over 6 years ago

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