Tools

Three Approaches To Poor Man’s Retargeting

Retargeting is an advertising technique that aims to convert browsers into buyers by increasing the number of times they see a campaign’s ads in a set period of time. The catch is that you’d normally need fancy technology to do this. In response to this problem, I came up with poor man’s retargeting for low-budget advertisers.

The idea was to look at shared traffic by means of link analysis and run ads on sites that were heavily interlinked. Today, I’d like to take that a step further and look at three tools and how they might be applied to improving your online ad spend.

First up is the tool that will get you closest to what I was suggesting: a web spider. I’ve personally used the demo spider offered by New Pro Soft. The way it works is that you specify what data you want from a wizard-style series of options, and then it will get it for you. The specific options you would use for this are to crawl 1 level deep and specifically crawl external links.

The result will be a data set that shows you who the external links are going to and then who their external links are going to (counting in this case starts at 0, so external links on the site you specify are 0, then level 1 is the next batch). You can get an idea of where the links are going through this. If you crawl deeper you can see the ‘web’ of links better and this should help you target your ad spend.

Of course, you don’t need to use that spider. A search on Google for web spider or web crawler or web robot (or on reputable software download sites where you won’t get spyware/adware/trojans etc.) can find you others that will do the same.

Second, for a mere $500/month, Compete will serve you up with the info on who is driving traffic to competitors. In short, Compete gives you the ‘top referring domains’ report, ordered by traffic. It also shows the percentage of a site’s outgoing traffic  Amazingly, Amazon.com apparently accounts for 1% of Google’s outbound traffic! That means that 1 in 100 searches result in a visit to Amazon. Jeff Bezos truly is the King of SEO.

compete data Three Approaches To Poor Mans Retargeting

Of course, Compete’s data is far from perfect, but I’ll get into that another time. For now, it suffices to share this screenshot to illustrate. Supposedly Avinash’s web analytics blog gets a bunch of traffic from a treadmill retailer. I’m sceptical.

compete data 2 Three Approaches To Poor Mans Retargeting

Nevertheless, with 2M panel users and a number of other data points, I think it’s a valuable data source if you use it for relative comparisons, rather than specific numbers. Yes, I was being sensationalist with that Amazon tidbit, but only slightly. It still indicates that Amazon is ridiculously well SEOed.

On a related note, this tool can be helpful in recruiting affiliates. Notice how Amazon’s third top referrer is the IMDB?

For the time being though, with minimum ad buys on some retargeting networks starting at just $200, you can get the full tech shebang plus your actual ad impressions cheaper than Compete’s data.

Third, Quantcast.com removes you even further from the data, but gets to the info we really want. (This is kinda like making a good analytics dashboard for your executives to take action on.) The info we care about is what other sites do this site’s visitors visit?

Quantcast works by having publishers install their code on their site, and then tracking the reach. They then do some fancy mathematical mumbo jumbo and figure out demographics etc.

Until the second part can be explained to me in plain English, I’ll be sceptical, but if you need specific numbers for a media buy for that ad campaign (remember our initial goal of ad retargeting?), then Quantcast’s verified publishers are your way to go. (Here’s where I get to say I told you so – my post on data commodification as a trend, which I wrote before seeing how Quantcast works – exactly predicted this type of situation. It also predicted the Compete idea, but I digress.)

So anyways, here are three reports that Quantcast offers, free, to help folks out with their targeting.

First is “Audience also visits,” which is pretty self-explanatory except for the affinity metric. I have no clue what that means.

quantcast 3 Three Approaches To Poor Mans Retargeting

quantcast Three Approaches To Poor Mans Retargeting

Second is “Traffic Frequency,” which other analytics platforms sometimes call loyalty. This is more useful for determining what impact your ads will have – branding campaigns benefit from more loyal audiences, but direct response campaigns do well with drive-by search traffic, often enough. That’s why PPC content pros scrape top search results and check them for adsense blocks, so that they can get cheap search traffic.

quantcast 2 Three Approaches To Poor Mans Retargeting

Third, more distantly related is topics that also interest your audience. This is helpful for finding cheap ad inventory, as where an audience really cares about political sites, for example. Political sites typically monetize poorly, since they’re selling ideas rather than products (Cafepress tshirts/Amazon book links don’t count as effective monetization, sorry).

quantcast 1 Three Approaches To Poor Mans Retargeting

To conclude, I think that with time, we’ll see greater precision in these tools as well as more meaningful metrics (@Quantcast What’s “affinity”? @Self: How do you tell whether  a link is getting clicked from the spider outbound links report?) and thus greater efficiency with the media buys. As well, I wouldn’t be surprised to see some mergers and acquisitions as folks who can use the data more profitably (superaffiliates and affiliate networks, mega ad agencies etc.) get more closely involved.

I’m trying to rank for “SEO” and SEO blog – speaking of which, swing by and check out my posts!

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16 thoughts on “Three Approaches To Poor Man’s Retargeting

  1. Interesting article, and this would definitely get you started in retargeting.

    I would also challenge your readers to explore the different retargeting providers – most have solutions that are as affordable as the $500 a month fee you would pay to compete, while making retargeting more easy and effective.

    Disclaimer: I work for FetchBack, the retargeting company, but wanted to share that bit of information so that marketers know that there are scalable options out there!

  2. Nice article- I was very disappointed when Specific Media’s division “retargeting.com” was put on hold because I think there is a great value in the idea of retargeting visitors- time consuming but a great idea.
    You mentioned compare.com there is also a great service with comparable pricing called Hubspot.

  3. I mentioned Compete.com (dunno what Compare.com is) but thanks for the tip on Hubspot. Personally, I’m disinclined to trust them as their generic lead-gen tools have been far from impressive, such as their Website Grader. I really hated that one.

  4. Great article Gab, thanks for sharing. One question: When you say “That’s why PPC content pros scrape top search results and check them for adsense blocks, so that they can get cheap search traffic”, are you referring specifically to Placement Targeted campaigns?

  5. What, you don’t believe in coincidence that I happened to see this article? :)

    I do track industry news – best way to know what people are thinking!!

  6. affinity is how likely the visitor is to visit those related sites.

    a visitor to site Y is 1549x more likely to visit wordtracker.com than someone who is not a visitor of site Y.

  7. Awesome Post. Per Quantcast, could they potentially use their cookie data as a recommendation vehicle for not just affiliates, but also for audiences looking to find new and engaging content or sites?

  8. @Ben – Missed your comment earlier. Yes, the idea is to run placement targeted campaigns or else figure out what keywords on the content network will land you on those sites. I’d guess placement targeting works better, though I’m not a real PPC expert TBH, so IDK.

  9. I just want to clarify that Compete.com and HubSpot are pretty different. Compete is pretty cool technical analytics for an SEO / Web guru like Gab.
    HubSpot is easy to use software for a small business owner or marketing person to generate leads, launch a blog, post landing pages with forms, track social media and SEO, integrate with Salesforce.com, etc. HubSpot is not at all meant or designed for someone like Gab, and it makes sense he didn’t like our free tool.

  10. For a truly “poor man’s” Retargeting try out AdRoll. They have no monthly minimum and charge on a CPC from .5-$1 or CPM under the $7 that Fetchback told me they had to charge. $7 CPM or $2 with AdRoll on the same networks… hmmmm

    1. Yeah, the no minimum aspect may be good for some, but generally, if you want to build your brand, I'd say ReTargeter is your best shot. They work on monthly subscriptions, starting at $500/month, and deliver a better ROI for $500 than I've gotten from other retargeting companies. The process is easy, their whole team is super responsive and friendly, and like I said, they delivered a tremendous ROI.

  11. Yeah, the no minimum aspect may be good for some, but generally, if you want to build your brand, I'd say ReTargeter is your best shot. They work on monthly subscriptions, starting at $500/month, and deliver a better ROI for $500 than I've gotten from other retargeting companies. The process is easy, their whole team is super responsive and friendly, and like I said, they delivered a tremendous ROI.