RETARGETING ADS – How they work and the top platforms

6 min read


Remarketing and retargeting are two words for the same concept. Google calls it remarketing, everyone else mostly refers to it as retargeting. Have you ever coincidentally seen ads for a product you were recently looking at on another website? Well, that wasn’t a coincidence—it was remarketing, one of the fastest growing marketing tactics of recent years, and it’s happening all the time across websites, social media, and mobile apps.


It’s been proven that the vast majority of people don’t buy on their initial visit. Some estimates say that anywhere from 90 to 98 percent of people do not buy on their first visit to a site. They may be researching, shopping around, or simply be at work and planning to come back and buy later when they have more time.

Remarketing gives users a second chance to convert while keeping your brand and your message in front of potential customers effectively reinforcing brand awareness.

For e-commerce sites remarketing has become a standard tactic. Both Facebook Ads and Google Ads feature a special kind of ad that matches past visitors with personalized product ads, offering variations on recently viewed products, or products that compliment a recent purchase.

When done well, remarketing becomes a natural step in the consumer journey, delivering easy access to items, services, and information in which the user showed interest.


Collecting visitor data
There are multiple platforms for running remarketing campaigns. For the most part, they all work in the same way. To get started with you first add a JavaScript tag to your site. With this code applied, your retargeting platform will now begin placing cookies on your visitor’s sites and collecting information about their behavior on your site. While no personal information is collected from your visitors, it’s still important to make sure you have a privacy policy on your site that mentions that you are using cookies and visitor data for marketing purposes.

Building your lists
At the broadest level, you can create a remarketing audience of all people who simply visited your website. However many businesses go much deeper. In the e-commerce sector, it is considered best-practice to remarket to visitors who added a product to cart using the previously mentioned dynamic product ads, more advanced tactics include matching recently viewed product pages and engagement indicators like time on site and scroll depth.

Building the campaigns
After you’ve created your remarketing audience, you then want to create specific ad campaigns that will be displayed to these lists. For example, if you’ve created an audience from people who visited the product page of XYZ product, you might want to display ads for XYZ product. If you have a remarketing list of people who added products to their cart but didn’t make a purchase, you could display an ad for a time-limited discount coupon or free shipping on a purchase, to incentivize conversion.


Google Ads
Google provides a myriad of remarketing options to marketers, capable of reaching users in search, youtube and Google Display Network. Audiences can be crafted either directly in Google Ads or using Google Analytics, where the drill down capabilities are higher allowing marketers to design granular audiences from their website visitors.

Facebook Ads
Facebook Ads is the go-to ad platform for many remarketing options across Facebook, Messenger and Instagram feeds. It is the current leader of remarketing ads and their Pixel, is a must-have essential for most websites.

AdRoll is a widely used remarketing platform. Thousands of brands use AdRoll to retarget site visitors across Facebook, Twitter, mobile, and the web. We have used Adroll for a number of clients and have had great experiences. Their customer service is also well-run and responsive.

Retargeter offers services ranging from audience segmentation to engagement tracking via indicators like pages viewed, scroll-depth, etc and dynamic creative optimization which tailors ads for users in real time.

Fixel is an AI powered audience segmentation tool that helps marketers use visitor engagement to target their remarketing across many ad platforms. Fixel delivers it’s metric directly into the various ad platforms and doesn’t require adjustment to existing workflows, working out of the box with Facebook, Google, Twitter, Yahoo, Bing, LinkedIn, Quora, Outbrain, Taboola, and others.

Rubicon Project
The Rubicon Project prides itself on having a huge network of data partners. Using their search retargeting option to target potential customers with an intent to buy will give you an upper hand over your competitors when it comes to search engine marketing. But it isn’t for the fainthearted—the minimum price is $10,000 to set up a campaign. If you are just taking your first steps in the remarketing world, it may be wise to use one of the other platforms before you dive into the deep end with The Rubicon Project.

Perfect Audience
Perfect Audience is a great option for small businesses that are keen to learn a bit more about online advertising without spending a ton of money. Perfect Audience helps marketers bring back lost web visitors through ads across ad platforms, it helps keep messaging cohesive across multiple channels. The range of options is great for e-commerce stores using third-party platforms like WordPress, Shopify, Magento, or 3dcart. A strong feature is their demand-side platform, letting you retarget your site’s recent visitors by plugging into a number of ad networks and ad exchanges across the web (including Facebook, Twitter, Google Ads and others). Features, support, and customer service are all excellent. delivers a solution that best fits e-commerce. Their products range from ad management across google and Facebook ad platforms to email marketing automation and personalization, covering the basic needs of an e-commerce operation. Particularly interesting is their suggestions engine, which is an AI that helps customer success representatives make better decisions, like when to make a discounted offer and when to contact a lead directly.


In recent years, retargeting has transitioned from being a specialty tactic deployed by advanced marketers into the advertising mainstream. While the list of platforms that feature advertising grows, regulation tightens around based on 3rd party data making traditional targeting through interests and demographics increasingly difficult and inaccurate. But these shifting sands are a prime-ground for innovation and the many startups and companies are finding new and creative ways to use what’s available to match and even outperform traditional tactics. We’re happy to have featured some of these amazing solutions in this list.


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