Behavioural targeting: Driving new visitors & enticing non-converting visitors back

I took part in a session on Behavioural Targeting at the PPA’s Customer Direct Conference in London in November 2014 and included reference to various targeting methods which Google make available to advertisers to use - see later. However since this event, Google has announced a change to one of these methods:

Other Interests

From 15th January 2015, 'Other interests' will no longer be an available targeting option within Google. They have advised that any current campaigns using this targeting method will continue to run until June 2015, but after this time they will automatically be upgraded to Affinity Audiences, Custom Affinity Audiences or In-market Audiences (see more later).

For those of you unable to make the PPA event, here’s a summary of points made in my presentation in November:

Google Display Network (GDN)

The Google Display Network lets you place text and image ads on a variety of websites and blogs - and on YouTube - to help you reach new potential prospects. You can select particular websites to place your ads on, or select a group of sites that cover particular ‘topics’. But Google also has a range of targeting tools available which can help you target users based on their online behaviour.


Here are a few specific audiences worth investigating…

Similar Audiences

  • Google’s Similar Audiences allows you to reach prospects who share the same characteristics (interests/profile/online behaviour) as the people who have already visited your website. AdWords looks at the browsing activity on its various display network sites over the last 30 days, and uses this, along with their contextual engine, to identify people with the same interests and characteristics as the people in your own site’s remarketing list. So Similar Audiences can help you target ‘look-a-like’ audiences.

In-market Audiences

  • Google’s In-market Audiences targets people who are actively researching products and services, so can help you find customers who are actively considering buying a product you cover in your editorial. For example, any magazine brand which regularly rates and review products would be a great ‘fit’ for using in-market audience targeting. You can appeal to a person who is researching options for their next car - or the digital camera they want to purchase but don’t know how to select the right one.

Affinity Audiences

  • Google’s Affinity Audiences targets people based on what they have watched on YouTube, treating them like TV audiences. There are over 80 different segments available, each focusing on a particular passion depicting a user’s lifestyle such as golf enthusiasts, travel buffs, news junkies, fashionistas or health & fitness buffs.

With all these audiences, you can run your campaign easily through AdWords – and tailor your ads and your bids to each segment you choose to target.

Advertising with GDN is great for brand awareness and helps you reach new potential audiences. Plus the behavioural targeting options can help reach people you know have an interest in what you have to offer. But if you are looking to use it to generate direct subscriptions, it is unlikely to give you the same ROI as that you’ll be achieving through your Search marketing.

However when measuring its impact, do take into account ‘view-through-conversions’ - those people who viewed your GDN image ads, didn’t actually click them, but did go onto place their order via another channel whether this be direct, organic or via email etc. – as this helps you assess the true value of your campaign.

For example:


Real Time Bidding (RTB)

RTB allows a far wider variety of display ad inventory than is available through Google to be auctioned through a bidding system that unfolds in the milliseconds before a webpage loads. It can be used to buy both mobile and desktop ads. At Jellyfish, our RTB team use demand-side platforms (automated software) to help decide which ad impressions to purchase, and how much to bid on them based on a variety of factors such as the sites they appear on and the previous behaviour of the users loading them. The price of impressions is determined in real time based on what you are willing to pay, hence the name ‘real-time bidding’ – and the highest bidder wins.

RTB advertising is great if you have available brand budget to reach out to new potential audiences. But if you are looking to use it to generate direct subscriptions, it won’t generate the same ROI as Search. However, when measuring its full impact take into account ‘post-view’ and ‘assisted’ conversions - those people who saw or clicked on your ads, but who ended up placing their order via another channel. These are orders you might not have generated had your display advertising not started your buyers online journey.

For example:


Remarketing via the Google Display Network

Google allows you to target people who visited your website and helps you entice them back by displaying your ads on other websites these people subsequently visit. You can segment your remarketing campaign based on the behaviour a person exhibited when browsing around your site. For example:

  • If you either tag specific pages or use Google Analytics, you can separately target visitors based on the content pages they viewed on your site. You can then design and serve specific ads to specific audiences to entice them back to your site. And, if you then deliver these people to a landing page which outlines related upcoming content, this might incentivise them to subscribe. But with these types of audiences, an annual subscription offer may be too much of an initial commitment to make, so test out lower price introductory offers or trials too.
  • Using Google Analytics you can also target people based on the behaviour they exhibited when they were on your website. For example you can target just those visitors who spent over, say, 2 minutes on your site (i.e. they were very interested in your content) so you exclude those who bounced in and out of the site quickly. And you can target people who looked at, say, 5 or more pages on your site. These people should be more interested in what you have to offer vs those who only looked at one or two pages.
  • Your hottest prospects are the people who visited your site, started the subscription sign up process, but something stopped them finalising their order. So make the most of your abandoned baskets! Split your targeting between those who only visited your site vs those who went into your payment pages. And if you have a stepped payment process, target each of the payment pages separately too.

Here are some typical results:


Remarketing Lists for Search Ads

Google’s Remarketing Lists for Search Ads (RLSA) allows you to use different bids and keywords and serve different ads to those people who have visited your site – when they next go into Google and search for something. You probably couldn’t afford to bid on a very generic term such as ‘Christmas gift subscription’. But if someone had visited your site, then entered this search into Google, it’s worth testing whether you can afford to bid on this using RLSA as you know they already know something about your brand, as they’ve visited your website before.

Here are some typical results:


Remarketing via Facebook

You can also remarket to your previous site visitors via ads on facebook, targeting specific groups based on the behaviour they exhibited when browsing your site. For example you can reach out to non-converting visitors who visited certain sections or content types in your site, target visitors who looked at your subs page but didn’t subscribe with a lower priced or introductory offer, or reach visitors who bought a particular product - and cross-sell related products.

Here are some typical results:


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