Add3 – Digital Marketing Agency with offices in Seattle & Portland

Add3's Essential Guide to Retargeting Part 1: Choosing a Retargeting Platform

This is part 1 of our 3-part series on retargeting. Check out Part 2: Types of Retargeting and Part 3: Retargeting Best Practices & OptimizationGet the full series of posts and more in our downloadable Guide to Retargeting PDF.

Choosing a Retargeting Platform

With all of the vast amounts of information available at potential customers’ finger tips, most transactions and leads aren’t earned in a single visit to a site. Comparison shopping is easier than ever and retargeting is a direct and effective way to stay in front of customers as they consider a purchase.

There are many platforms that offer retargeting with vast publisher networks, premium inventory and flexible controls and reporting. Choosing the best partner can depend on your own wants, needs and resources. Some platforms are fully managed, self-service, or a mix. Most offer some creative services, but at varying levels.

I would categorize retargeting platforms into three main types – search engine (really just Google), ad networks and programmatic buying partners. It’s important to use the right platform(s) for your needs and to understand the differences.

Google Remarketing


My first go-to is always Google remarketing (they call their brand of retargeting “remarketing”). The ease of set-up, management, control and flexibility make it a good foray into retargeting. There are no spend minimums and it is completely self-service. As a search marketer first and foremost, all of the clients I work with already have AdWords accounts, so it’s super easy to add retargeting campaigns to the mix.

Benefits of Google Remarketing:
  • It’s located directly within AdWords account
  • There’s no minimum spend requirement
  • CPC or CPM bidding and pricing is available
  • You get transparency and control over placements

Ad Networks


Ad Networks are a good option for advertisers looking for scale and premium inventory; who potentially see more value in brand awareness associated with premium inventory. While potentially more expensive, and oftentimes only available on CPM pricing, they can offer more customer support and management services.

Benefits of Retargeting via Ad Networks:
  • Premium placements (for better credibility)
  • May offer creative services (saving you time)
  • Access to retargeting across FBX (Facebook exchange) &
  • Twitter Ads

Programmatic Retargeting

choosing a retargeting platform: programmatic media platforms thetradedesk, rocketfuel, turn, mbuy

Finally, programmatic buying platforms that already offer a wide range of targeting, absolutely include retargeting on that list. They have the added benefit of layering 3rd party data, using your own CRM to create custom look-a-like audiences and more flexibility and control compared to an ad network. Programmatic buying platforms vary fairly significantly on the scale of self vs. full service as well. More self-service models give you all the controls, but with so many options, you need to an expert – preferably in the form of an agency like ours. 🙂

Benefits of Programmatic Retargeting
  • Layer audiences (including 3rd party data)
  • Create audiences with advertiser’s own CRM
  • Real-time bidding
  • Access to major ad networks including Google, RightMedia (Yahoo), Appnexus, Rubicon, FBX etc.


Whatever your needs, there are multiple options available and it’s a good idea to test a few. I even recommend running more than one if you find a combination that delivers the results you’re looking for. More than two and you’re probably going to run into cannibalization that impacts performance, but the best digital marketing strategies typically leverage more than one platform to maximize audience reach.

Coming next in Part 2: A review of types of retargeting – yes there is more than one!

Want a sneak peek of part 2? Download our Guide to Retargeting!

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Nora Park

About Nora Park

Nora Park is an Account Director at Add3. She has been doing paid search marketing for 8 years; the past 5 with Add3. Outside the office, Nora enjoys running, cooking and spending time with her husband and 2 year old son, Tyson.

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