If you have ever shopped at the Hugo Boss store in Soho or the Men’s department at Bloomingdales, I’m positive one of their attentive personal shoppers helped recommend attire based on what you were in the market for (ie formal/casual wear, budget, taste, etc). 

But remember, the purpose of their accommodating service is sales: to identify your need, match you with a suitable product and then guide you to checkout. Their deductive reasoning and approch is effective to ensuring your business.

A similar tactic should be mimicked within a retargeting campaign to close the sale before the shopper buys elsewhere.

While on HugoBoss.com over the weekend, I added a few shirts to the cart. I was distracted (probably by Huffpo) and I bounced off-site. Within a few moments, I was retargeted with the Hugo Boss display ad below promoting a 50% off sale.

The chance at a sale caught my eye. I give kudos to their acquisition manager for that design decision. However, I clicked the ad and to my disappointment I did not see ANY sale products or heavy sales messaging. 

Instead, I landed on the Spring 2013 Men’s page. This is the page for their new product arrivals (aka non-sale &top priced products). Yeah, it was a bit of a disconnect.

The disconnect is:

  1. The sale messaging of the ad was generic and impressionable.
  2. The retailer knew my category of interest was shirts, why not capitalize on the intent data?

How retail retargeting can be made more effective

Step 1. Reflect the product category of interest

If the shopper has spent time in the shirt section, or added shirts to cart, then the re-marketed ad should display: shirt messaging. End generic ads, drive sales through relevant recommendations.

Step 2. Let the shopper shop from within the ad.

We have found that elegant carousel ads that rotate six or more products of interest are more effective than static ads. For our retail advertisers, by incorporating product feeds we are able to populate the ads with accurate product recommendations. 

This enables shoppers to browse similar products then click-to-site to complete a purchase. I encourage you to experiment with different logic to govern which products should populate ads. 


  1. Customers like you also purchased products like these.
  2. Top selling products within the category of interest.
  3. Sale items within the category of interest.

Step 3.  Authentic Continuity

To decrease bounce rates, the shoppers’ expectations should be met.  If an ad is promoting sale messaging, the destination landing page should mirror the expectation by listing sale items.

If an ad is promoting suits, the destination landing page should be the suit section.  Disrupting the shopper experience leads to bounce.

Relevancy. This sounds a bit obvious right? I’m seeing the same trend in the travel industry this week.

When it comes to travel planning, Kayak.com and Virgin Atlantic are my go-to brands of choice. In March, my buddy is getting married in India and I’m scrambling for a ticket. 

I’ve been researching prices for flights on Kayak from JFK to New Delhi.  Ever since, I’ve been stalked with display ads promoting flights from JFK to LAX.  Errr…what!?

Last October, we deployed a search retargeting campaign for a hotel chain on Kayak.com. We were able to scrape the traveler’s intent from the search string and inject the city of interest into the display ad while the visitor continued to browse Kayak and afterwards on subsequent sites. 

Not only were we able to reflect the destination city of interest but we also populated the ad with relevant images and accurate price per night messaging. 

With travel, I’ve found more so than retail, timing is everything. When planning a trip, the window of consideration is so small; as we all know plane tickets go up in price, not down, as the departure date approaches.  

Travelers book based on where they tend to rack up air miles, past experiences, a peer’s recommendation, and price of course.  Travel brands don’t have the luxury of time when it comes to capturing the reservation. 

Effective elements of travel retargeted ads

  • A slight discount, provide a promo code.
  • Bundle an iTunes credit via iFeelGoods.com.

Neither of the above has to be costly to the airline but they could be the tipping point that converts the traveler before they book elsewhere.