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GUEST COMMENT Five principles of personalised retargeting

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Retargeting has been proven to be one of the most powerful marketing tools available today, and personalisation goes one step further in raising advertising effectiveness. Here we give you five principles for successful personalised retargeting.

Critical mass

Retargeting must be part of a wider marketing concept and to reach the desired effect, it is crucial to reach the so called critical mass.

A critical mass stands for the amount of unique users that we are able to target in order to gain the coveted traffic. The critical mass depends on the flow of unique visitors in a “reasonable time period” that has to take in account the speed of cookie ageing and the currency of the offer you want to retarget.


An ideal situation is set, when the content of the ad is optimised dynamically based on the individual route of the customer (customer journey) – on the advertiser’s web page and also throughout the whole website. The ultimate personalisation comes to life, when the ad’s content is determined by the preferences of the customer.

Another case is product retargeting or Dynamic Creative Optimisation (DCO). The customer that checks out only a few products is also offered bestsellers from that particular category. Products that have appeared in the shopping cart are shown with a higher priority than others. Already purchased products are not displayed any more. The possibility of displaying related offers depends on the technical level of the advertising platform.

Acceptance through relevance

For personalised retargeting to be fruitful in the long run, we cannot focus solely on the campaign performance indicators. At the heart of our strategy should always be the user and his comfort. Every retargeting strategy must use a tool for limiting the frequency of ad display (frequency capping) so the user does not feel pursued by the advertisement. That would actually undermine the effect of the ad.

While using product retargeting, it is therefore crucial to pay attention to the quality of the product’s feed, so that it does not display irrelevant products, items out of stock or offers with negative reviews.


Retargeting activities should be concentrated at one provider. In order to target the critical mass it is necessary to reach the collected audiences across various inventory (all available space offered by internet publishers). Therefore it is important that RTB advertising platforms are connected to all relevant networks in the country concerned.

In order not to shatter the data and workflow, it is smart to continuously use only one advertising platform – gather all the campaign data there and especially all the traffic sources for retargeting.

Centralised control enables effective management of frequency capping across different campaigns and maintaing the principle of subsequent storytelling. Using various platforms, that can in some cases advertise against each other, is definitely not a good idea – it raises the cost of the advertisements, simultaneously diminishing their effect.

Broadening your data

The potential of traditional retargeting is necessarily limited by the magnitude of the target audience. A suitable way to broaden the targeting and retargeting reach is external data.

For example, by comparing the advertiser’s data with external data, we are able to identify the so called statistical twins – user profiles that we can target based on statistical similarities with the advertiser’s user profiles (also known as lookalike modelling). It is possible to utilize behavioural data from some publishers that can also serve as a suitable extension for RTB retargeting.

Ellie Edwards-Scott is UK managing director of QUISMA

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