Learning About Your Audience Via Display Remarketing

Remarketing has been around for a while now and has been adopted by a fair percentage of businesses. We can probably all agree that an awful lot of remarketing is really not done terribly well. Ads for things you already bought will follow you around for weeks (or months?!?). You see the same ad everywhere you go online. Occasionally, you can get rewarded for not completing a purchase by getting some kind of offer in the remarketing ads that sweetens the deal.

I wanted to cover another aspect of the value of remarketing in this post, rather than go through a litany of all of the do this and don’t do that type of list. One of the interesting things that can come out of remarketing is learning a little more about your site visitors. If you do it smartly, you can take this information and use it to further develop your customer personas.

What Sites Do They Visit?

One of the giant pieces of information that you can access if you run a remarketing campaign via the Google Display Network is seeing where your ads are shown. I know, trudging through placement reports is one of the worst management tasks in PPC, but it can be worth the effort to figure out any commonality among your remarketing targets!

You will want to set your own cutoff parameters for what constitutes enough volume to extrapolate out to your available audiences, but if you start to keep track of the sites that get the most impressions and the most clicks, you might be able to make some assumptions about the people who are on your remarketing list(s) or at least have some fodder for further exploration. For instance, do they visit a weather site a lot? Maybe there is some cross over in interests in your type of product or service and people who are into weather.

If you find some niche or other quality sites (it can happen via GDN occasionally) you might just be able to advertise more directly on those sites or pull them out into a display campaign using managed placements. I am generally a huge proponent of using managed placements for display campaigns so that you can (a) know exactly where your ads are appearing (or not appearing) and (b) to not have to cull through placement reports.

What Type Of Content Do They Respond To?

If you’re tracking your analytics properly, you should be able to create segments with Google Analytics to see just how your remarketing visitors are interacting or engaging with the content you’re putting in front of them. Create a segment within GA to show you traffic coming in via your remarketing campaigns. This can show you insights about your audiences too – pages viewed and paths, geographic locations, devices, time of day/night, etc. I like to look at site content reports in GA with an All Visitors segment (as a baseline for comparison to all visitors to the site) and then apply different segments. In this case, that would be the GDN Remarketing Traffic segment. I like seeing how, if at all, these visitors vary in their behavior from all site visitors. If you want to get really detailed, you can create a segment that includes All Visitors Except for GDN Remarketing Traffic and do a comparison there too.

There isn’t a great native way to group remarketing traffic in GA. It is a subset of Google/cpc. So, I like to use campaign naming to be able to group my remarketing campaigns together easily in a GA segment. I use the manual option of setting up Conditions and add each campaign with an OR until I have all of my remarketing campaigns included in the segment definition.

Creating GA Segment For Campaigns

To create the segment excluding the GDN Remarketing Traffic, you could do the exact same thing, but instead of the default Include, click the drop down and change it to Exclude:

Exclude that GDN Remarketing Campaign Traffic

Another Cool Thing You Can Do

You can apply Placement Domain as a secondary dimension to a lot of reports in GA to see specifically how visitors who came from a specific Placement Domain (the site where your ad was shown and clicked on). Not all reports have the option to add a secondary dimension, but if they do, simply click on it:

Secondary Dimension Selection

Then you will want to go to Advertising and then scroll down through until you see Placement Domain:

Placement Domain Selection

Once you make this selection, you can then see the report you were viewing, WITH information about placements. Here is an excerpt from the Device report I started with:

Device Report With Placement Domains

Unfortunately, you can’t make a segment for a placement domain or a set of placement domains, so you have to just apply the secondary dimension to reports each time. But, if you take the time to do this, you can see if there are bigger differences in traffic that comes in via a particular site and then try to figure out why and if there is anything about that you could further leverage.

Want to go ever further? You can see the actual Placement URL as a secondary dimension too:

Display Placement URLs

Interesting, no? You can drill down like this on other reports that have the Secondary Dimension option. Site Behavior for Content has it. Can’t really do a useful screenshot of that one – I’d have to pixel too much out.

Whatever you can use to try to glean just a little more about your audience and/or about what is actually happening when visitors who saw your ad on a particular site are doing can only be a good thing. Digging in to this a little deeper can help you if you’re on the fence about whether a placement is a quality one or not.

What about you? Any favorite tricks to learn more about your remarketing visitors? As always, sound off in the comments, or hit me up on Twitter (@NeptuneMoon).

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