The state of ad retargeting, in 5 charts

Retargeting is growing as an area of marketing spending. In a survey by Marin Software, 88 percent of marketers said they were using it, with Google search and display being the dominant retargeting tools. Of those that didn’t use the tactic, more than half said they planned to within the next 12 months. But despite its prevalence, retailers are concerned about its transparency. Here, in a nutshell, is the state of retailer retargeting in five simple charts.

Retargeting is up
After search-engine marketing, retailers consider retargeting to be one of the most effective methods of customer acquisition, according to a survey by Shop.org and Forrester of 81 online retailers. Not surprisingly, fully 77 percent of those surveyed planned to spend more on retargeting in 2014 than the year before, while 18 percent planned to spend the same.

Transparency issues loom
Retargeting is fraught with transparency-related concerns, though. Marin Software, a cross-channel ad platform, surveyed 233 digital marketers about their use of and attitudes toward retargeting. While 88 percent said they used retargeting, nearly one-third cited transparency-related concerns as a challenge, among them viewability and click fraud.

Viewability concerns
It’s common for retargeting providers to buy inventory at a low cost, then charge the advertisers a cost per impression. It’s a mystery for marketers, who expressed concern about whether their ads are being seen, not knowing where their ads are running and whether they got a good deal for their cost per impression.

Shopper attitudes
People shop around, suggesting there’s an argument in favor of retargeting. About one-third visited one site before buying the last product they bought online, but 50 percent visited two or more sites, according to a survey by Adroit Digital and Toluna. And people notice retargeting. Fifty-eight percent noticed ads showing up for a product after they looked at it online, versus 42 percent who didn’t.

Consumer ambivalence
Retailers should proceed with caution, though. Most consumers felt neutral after seeing the retargeted ads at first, but the sentiment soured the more they were exposed to retargeted ads over time. Those who remained neutral stayed about the same (57 percent), but those who felt positive declined to 25 percent from 30 percent, while those felt negative rose to 19 percent from 15 percent.