Content Marketing and Retargeting: A Potential Match

I’ve developed a mild fascination with retargeted ads: when I’ve finished researching a particular project, I’ll often see ads based on that research for weeks to come. A retargeted ad uses cookies within your own browser to present ads based on sites you’ve visited in the past. The technology keeps improving, making it possible for a marketer to build some sophisticated campaigns.

But the context in which retargeting is often used may be holding it back: the grand majority of campaigns seem based around e-commerce platforms. I haven’t run the numbers yet, but retargeting could be an easy way for content marketers to ensure that the audiences they are targeting see the content they’ve created in the right order. If, for instance, a prospect downloads a white paper about widgets (which establishes a cookie), it would be easy enough to show that prospect links to articles that answer the questions about buying those widgets that you commonly hear after prospects read your white paper.

Retargeting does cost more than other types of online advertising, because you’re dealing with a very targeted audience. That might make it less useful for content marketers as an every day tool, but, then again, the math may still work out. I don’t know (though I’d like to run some experiments). What I do know, however, is that marketers are calling the people who they show retargeted ads their “invisible lists,” playing off of the idea of building a mailing list. But you can’t keep a list happy if all you ever do is try to sell to the people on it. You need to reward their attention, possibly with some useful and interesting content.

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