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Have you ever visited a website – and then two days later started to see ads for that company everywhere? You may have noticed that a lot of big companies do this, but don’t worry. This kind of thing is available to all businesses.

In fact, ANY business with a website can set this up. It’s a bit of work on the front end, but once you’ve done it, you never have to think about it again. Let’s dive in.

How Does Retargeting Function?

On The Consumer Side: The Cookie

Many websites that you visit (including TourismTiger) will cause you to download a specific ‘cookie’ to your computer. A cookie is a small piece of information that leaves a memory of that website in your computer.

For example, you may notice that when you visit Facebook, you’re already logged in. This is because of cookies.

Later, as you browse Facebook or websites with advertising activated, your computer will be checked to see if it has any relevant cookies in order to show these ads.

On Your Side: The Javascript Code

When you set up a retargeting account with Facebook, Google or third-party providers, they will pass you a snippet of Javascript code to add to the header of your site. From this day, your site will begin to drop this cookie onto the computers of website visitors.

Whichever provider you use will track the visitor, how many times they see your website and more.

The Auction: How The Ad Gets Shown

Just because someone visits your website doesn’t necessarily mean your ad gets shown, as there’s no shortage of businesses dropping cookies on people. Not only that, you also have to contend with normal advertisers targeting specific websites or trying to reach certain demographics using normal Facebook advertising.

Pretty much all ad networks follow the same auction process. This means that every time you see an ad on Facebook, that ad has actually won a bidding process to be in front of your eyeballs. This bidding process is intricate but happens almost in real time.

Why Should I Use Retargeting?

Advertise Just to People Who Have Visited Your Site

Advertising to hoards of people online is tough.

Google Adwords can be incredibly expensive: the same keywords you want to target are inevitably in the crosshairs of most of your competition. Facebook, on the other hand, is beyond tough: good luck trying to target the exact people who are just about to pass through your area.

Retargeting, on the other hand, puts you right in front of the exact people who have already visited your site. Sure, some of them might be sticky-beaking competitors or high school students looking for a job, but the large majority of them will be people who are actually interested in booking a tour or activity in your area! (Otherwise, why the heck would they be looking at your site?)

Enhance Your Credibility

Take the person who’s searching on behalf of a school or corporate group of 20 people. They’re going to be interested in going with a professional, well-established business.

By putting your ads in front of them, this signals that you’re running a real, legitimate operation. In many cases, you’ll build a perception that your company is actually bigger than it is.

Ultimately, you’ll benefit from what is known as the ‘Multiple Source Effect(opens in a new tab)‘, where people are more likely to trust in an argument made by multiple sources. In the world of consumer marketing, this is otherwise known as ‘I’ve been seeing this company everywhere, they’ve got to be good.’

Stay Front of Mind

All of us, at some point or another, have seen a business and found it attractive but forgotten about it later.

Retargeting means that the person who’s researching 1-7 days before coming (most people, you’d say) will be seeing ads about you until they arrive, as well as during their stay. How much would you pay for that?

You’ll also stay at the front of mind for many people in the local industry, who from to time may check out businesses on TripAdvisor to refer to or just to learn more about a company.


Earlier I talked about the auction process of advertising. The reason retargeting constantly dominates the ads you see on Facebook comes right back to this: if you have the evidence that the person seeing the ad is specifically interested in your product, you’re able to spend more money per click than that advertiser.

“So…how does that make it cheaper?”

Good question! A typical advertiser cannot spend much to get in front of someone, as most of the viewers of that ad are going to be completely irrelevant. This means that their cost per relevant view is actually quite high.

Imagine you have to spend 40 cents per click but only 1 in every 4 people are actually interested in what you’re offering once they figure out what it is you offer. This makes your cost per relevant click $1.60.

Compare that to someone who has visited your website. By definition, they’re interested in something you offer or at least something highly relevant to that offer. This means that they’re more likely to click your ad, which means you have to bid less to achieve the same position. Then, because they’re a more relevant visitor to your website than a stranger checking you out for the first time, they’re by definition more likely to convert into a sale.

With higher conversions per click and lower costs per click, your return skyrockets. (Or at least, that’s the idea.)

It’s also cheap to pay us (and probably other people) to do it. Adwords consultants charge a lot of money for set-up and ongoing management.

One Time Set-up

My absolute number one favorite thing about retargeting is that it’s not an enormous time suck like Twitter or Facebook. You set it up once and away you go.

Retargeting does need some maintenance from time to time to make sure it’s on track. You might want to experiment with various ads to see which one works, cut out visitors from certain countries, tweak how many times people are seeing the ads, but overall if you configure it right the first time (something which is not hard to do), then it wouldn’t be a problem.

Note: if you get more than 5,000 visits a month, you should probably do maintenance or pay someone to do it for you.

Does Retargeting Actually Work? What Effect Will It Have?

Yes, retargeting works. Just by its mechanism, it is guaranteed to work better than advertising to complete strangers. In fact, retargeted users are 10x more likely to click a display ad(opens in a new tab) and 70% more likely to return(opens in a new tab) to make a purchase.

But let’s just say that you’ve already determined that Adwords don’t (or won’t) work for you. Would retargeting be cheap enough?

First, it’s worth establishing that retargeting doesn’t typically have a massive effect on a business. Updating the design of your website and making sure it works well on mobile should nearly always be your first step.

The nature of retargeting means that it only will be shown to people who have visited your website already. It won’t bring in any extra traffic, which means that if anything, you’ll see a percentage bump in sales. Obviously, only a percentage of people will click back through to your site, and only a percentage of those people will ever buy.

‘Then why do it?’ you might say. My response would be this: why would you ever ignore anything that can give you a bump in sales? Especially when it’s just a one-off set-up which requires limited ongoing maintenance?

The general rule of thumb in the online marketing community is that if you get 10,000 visitors a month, you will see a noticeable bump. Other than that, you’d have to be tracking your statistics closely (think about it – if you had a 3-5% bump in sales, would you even notice? Most people don’t have their stats tracked finely enough to even see this.

Where Will Your Ads Appear?

This depends on a lot of things (that information is coming later in this post), but the typical two places to use retargeting are on Facebook and Google Display Network. The Google Display Network manages the advertising for millions of sites, and your ad could appear on any of them.

Designing Ads That Work

There’s designing an ad, and then there’s designing an ad that works. As Karol K. from Web Design Ledger shares(opens in a new tab), ‘A good banner is not one that looks good. A good banner is one that works. It can be the ugliest thing in the world, but still, if it works it is perfect.’

Besides basic principles(opens in a new tab) such as ‘use readable fonts’, a banner ad needs to have four basic elements:

1. Your Logo – so people know who you are.

2. Value Proposition – the ‘why’ of why someone should be using your business or clicking your ad.

According to 99 Designs(opens in a new tab), one of the world’s leading marketplaces for graphic design, you should call your attention to the ad by focusing on ‘attractive products, special offers and prices, i.e. “50% off,” “Limited time offer,” or “Free!” It should take up the most space in your ad and be the first thing that you viewers’ eyes are attracted to.’

3. The Call to Action – you need to clearly define the action you want the user to take. I’ve written an epic guide to buttons right here. If you’ve read it, you’ll know that I’m a fan of buttons that say ‘Book My Spot Now’.

This means that even though the entire ad is clickable, the ad design itself should have a button.

4. Design Consistency – the ad itself and the website that the user is being directed to need to have consistency in terms of the design feel.

Facebook Ads Are Different

With Facebook ads, your banner will be accompanied by a text headline and a short description. Because of this, you don’t need to fill your banner with text and buttons. Facebook recommends less than 20% of text in the main image, but no longer strictly enforces that.

Tips For An Effective Campaign

The Ad Quality Really Matters

Remember, you’re participating in an auction. Which means that if your ad doesn’t get clicks, Facebook won’t show it.

To give an example, we ran a campaign for 3 months for a client on Facebook through the AdRoll platform. The first month, the ad got around 2,000 impressions and maybe 15 clicks. We made just one tweak to the ad and BOOM, we got 846 clicks in that month. I will never, ever forget that moment.

Measure conversions

Are you currently measuring conversions on your website? Do you know the best sources of traffic for bookings?

If you have solid data on this kind of thing, it will make optimizing your campaign that much more easy.

You Can Choose To Show Ads By Country, Device Type and More

Do you have a very specific market that you like to serve? Using many retargeting platforms, you can be remarkably specific.

For example, a client of mine was targeting her local market very specifically. We were able to select ‘Melbourne’ as the city to target and not show ads to anyone else.

This level of targeting helps you target the profile of your most likely customer.

Days after Website Visit

Another option available is to set how many days you will keep showing an ad to someone after they have visited your site. In this case, you’ll need to check your figures to see how far in advance the typical visitor to your tour operation books a trip.

Taking into account that people who visit from within your city may be more likely to book much closer to the date, you can create settings such that these people only see ads for the first few days after visiting your site.

Frequency Caps

If you’ve ever been massively irritated by the same advertising video 50 times on YouTube, you’d probably understand the value in setting a limit in how many times someone should see your ad. in a new tab) recommends(opens in a new tab) showing your ad 17-20 times per person per month maximum to get the right balance between recognition and overexposure.

More Advanced Retargeting Methods

Show Different Ads Based On Which Pages Have Been Visited

Let’s say you have 5 different tours. Why not show people ads for the tour pages they have actually visited? After all, they’ve demonstrated in the clearest possible way that that specific tour interests them.

Burn Pixels

Burning a pixel is when you stop showing someone ads based on a page they have visited. For example, if someone has been directed towards the ‘Thank You For Booking’ page, it means they have already booked and there’s no point in continuing to advertise with them.

Search Retargeting

Slightly different to typical retargeting, search retargeting is where you show someone an ad based on something they have searched elsewhere such as in Google or Bing.

YouTube retargeting

If you’re a regular watcher of YouTube videos (like most people in the world), you may well have noticed that there has been a rise in websites using retargeting to show you video ads.

There’s some good news with this: it’s actually very affordable – probably the most affordable option when it comes to retargeting. Why? One simple reason: making a video is a lot more difficult than just making a normal Facebook ad, which means less competition from advertisers for eyeballs.

Warning: We will shortly be launching our own YouTube advertising campaigns. Hide the children now.

Liquid Ads

A special service offered by AdRoll for those customers with more than 60,000 unique visitors per month is the ability to show dynamic ads. These are ads that are automatically generated based on the product someone has just been looking at, and you’re able to insert things like price and custom images.


Rather than just uploading an ad and leaving it at that, it’s definitely worth testing various versions. Facebook won’t show an ad that doesn’t get clicks. In my experience of managing retargeting campaigns, I’ve seen WILD differences in results from two ads that are very similar to each other. You should test both different ad designs and value proposition. Check out someone else’s experience(opens in a new tab) doing something similar.

Test Targeting Only People Who Have Visited Your Tour Pages

Think about it. Someone who visits your home page and who bounces off after 10 seconds is less likely to buy than someone who spent a minute or two navigating around checking out the various tours.

How Much Does it Cost?

This depends on a LOT of things so it’s tough to say, but you can set a weekly budget to make sure that you don’t blow your bank account balance.

How Do I Get Started?

We can set up a campaign for you in Perfect Audience(opens in a new tab), our current preferred platform. This includes designing the ads, inserting the code on your site, setting up the campaigns, and making sure it’s all working.

The rest of the guide below is for those who want to do it themselves.

Existing TourismTiger customers will receive a discount. If you are a customer and you want to set up your own campaigns, just send through to us your tracking code and we’ll install it.

For everyone else, one last thing: to get started with any of the below services, you will need to be able to edit your own website to install the tracking code.

Third Party or Direct?

There are two basic ways to go about it: setting up an account with one or both Google and Facebook and managing each one manually OR just using a third-party service company which rolls all platforms into one.

Our preference and recommendation is to use the Perfect Audience platform, although in reality there’s not a huge amount of difference between them and Adroll.

How to Get Started With Google: has a better guide to setting up than I could ever write. Read it here(opens in a new tab).

How to Get Started with Facebook: If your only intention is to do retargeting through Facebook, my recommendation would be to set up directly through them (if you can figure out their options). Facebook has a great setup guide. Read it here(opens in a new tab).

How to Get Started With Adroll: I’ve been using AdRoll for around 18 months for one project of mine, and it’s been a funny experience, especially using the Facebook ads area. Overall I’d recommend their platform, though. Here’s a rundown of how to get started(opens in a new tab).

How to Get Started Perfect Audience: Warning: you won’t be able to launch a campaign without having dropped 250 cookies in a 7 day period (this equates to roughly 500 visitors). This is their (not so awesome) quick start guide(opens in a new tab).


An In-Depth Comparison of Remarketing and Retargeting Services(opens in a new tab)

5 Lessons Learned in Site Retargeting(opens in a new tab)

8 Best Practices for Running a Retargeting Campaign(opens in a new tab)

What Makes a Good Retargeting Ad?(opens in a new tab)

A Beginner’s Guide to Retargeting Ads(opens in a new tab)

How To Create a Retargeting Campaign in Google Adwords(opens in a new tab)

How to Spend Your First $100 on Retargeting Ads(opens in a new tab)

5 Unknown Tips To Hack Your Retargeting(opens in a new tab)

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