TechDogs-All About "Ad Serving & Retargeting Platforms": Part 2

Digital Marketing

All About Ad Serving & Retargeting Platforms: Part 2

By TechDogs

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What is Retargeting, how does it fit within the overall Ad Serving ecosystem? Part 2 of our Ad Server and Retargeting Series, answers all your questions. Just to give you a quick answer, Retargeting enables advertisers to show ads to visitors even after they have left the advertiser's website, allowing them to keep their brand, product, company or service top-of-mind to users as they move from websites and apps across devices. Intrigued enough to learn more? Hop on the learning carriage, we are going on a fun educational tour.
TechDogs-2D Image Of All About "Ad Serving & Retargeting Platforms": Part 2
You know those ads that follow you around the digital or social media landscape, popping up in your Gmail account or on your favorite news website or appearing (as if by magic) within your Facebook feed or Instagram stories? These dynamic ads use Retargeting technology (also called remarketing ) to reach you after you've left an advertiser's website.

Before that let's recap what we learnt in Part 1 of our Ad Serving & Retargeting Platforms series. We covered, what is an Ad Server, how it works and little more about its benefits. In Part 2, we go to the next step of Retargeting. Let's dive in...

A Clear Explanation Of Retargeting, So You Can Talk About It Like A Boss

Retargeting's mission is to get users back to the advertisers to take an action such as completing a purchase, filling out a form or downloading a whitepaper. Ecommerce websites like Amazon have used Retargeting with great success to get people to complete the purchase.

The following is an ad for aviator sunglasses that we added to our Amazon shopping cart. The ad appears on

TechDogs-A Clear Explanation Of "Retargeting", So You Can Talk About It Like A Boss-Screenshot Of An Ad For "Aviator Sunglasses" In Amazon Shopping Cart. The Ad Appears On "Nytimes.Com"
Retargeted Ads can be personalized to the individual user, as is the case with the above ad, containing the exact pair of sunglasses we added to our shopping cart. They can also be broader, showing the same message and image to all users who have previously visited a website.

Like most ad technology, Retargeting platform relies on cookies to work. A cookie is a small snippet of code, also called a "pixel," that's sent from a website to your browser, where it's stored for a specific period (or until you delete it). Cookies don't contain personal user information. Rather, they contain a unique code or identifier for each user along with the website the user visited. This is what the Ad Server uses to retarget ads. The following graphic illustrates the process flow of a retargeted ad, starting with your visit to a website and ending with your potential return to that same website after viewing a retargeted ad.

TechDogs-"Retargeting Ad"-Flow-Graphic Illustrates The Process Flow Of A Retargeted Ad
Retargeting technology acts like a super-smart personal assistant that remembers your browsing history (yikes!) and delivers offers based on your previous preferences and behaviors. For example, if you visit an Ecommerce website and put several items in your shopping cart but leave without buying them, you may see those exact same items appear in a banner ad on a different website, per our aviator sunglasses example, above.

The Benefits Of Retargeting

Retargeting can be implemented as a standalone tactic or incorporated as part of a broader marketing campaign. Think of it as another way to targeted ads to users, one amongst a long list of targeting types available to advertisers that include a keyword, behavioral, demographic, interest, topic and other targeting. With so many targeting options available, why use Retargeting? Well, lots of reasons but here are a few of the best ones:
  • Retargeting Helps Reduce Shopping Cart Abandonments

    Online shoppers are fickle. They often put stuff in their virtual shopping carts, see something shiny and leave without purchasing the items. This is called a "shopping cart" abandonment." (Don't worry, many of us have abandonment issues). The average shopping cart abandonment rate is over 77% across all retail categories. Retargeting using personalized shopping ads can help retailers draw shoppers back to their websites to complete a purchase.

  • Retargeting Improves Ad Engagement

    People click on retargeted ads more than regular ads because they show them stuff, they're already interested in. The average click through rate (CTR) for a regular ad is about .04%, while retargeted ads average about .07%, which means your ads are being clicked on by more people when they're retargeted.

  • Retargeting Improves Conversion Rate

    When you click on an ad and complete an action on the advertiser's website, for instance, make a purchase, fill out a form, sign up for a newsletter, etc., it's called a conversion. An ad's conversion rate is determined by calculating the number of people who convert divided by the number of people who click on the ad. One study found that visitors who see a retargeted ad are 70% likelier to convert. That's because Retargeting helps with brand recall, subtly assisting users in getting to know you even if they immediately bounce from your website after clicking on your ad.

Do All Ad Servers Support Retargeting?

Most of the top Ad Serving platforms, including Google Ad, Facebook Ads and AdRoll, support Retargeting or Remarketing campaigns. Retargeting has become an accepted tactic within the digital ad platform landscape because, when done correctly, it's incredibly useful. Retargeted ads are highly relevant because they only manifest in front of a user who has already shown interest in your business.

Retargeting is also an excellent way to get more bang from your advertising buck, ensuring that visitors who bounce off your website without buying or interacting can be reached with additional messaging.

Retargeting Requires Some Setup

TechDogs-"Retargeting" Requires Some Setup-A Dart Image In Reference To Set Up Goal As A Part Of Retargeting Campaign

Retargeting requires some setup to work and it varies depending on what website or platform you're advertising with, so for now, we'll keep it simple.

To set up a Retargeting campaign, you must:
  • Pick a website or platform to advertise on, such as Google adwords or Facebook.

  • Install a Retargeting pixel (a snippet of code) onto your website - the platforms that support Retargeting will supply you with this pixel.

  • Choose your custom audience to target - A Retargeting audience must be created/ defined by the advertiser before you launch your campaign. It can be as simple as "all users" who visit your website, or a more nuanced target audience - "a particular niche set"(e.g., users who visit a specific page, users pulled from a list of email addresses you have, etc.).

  • Set up your campaign within the given social media platform (Google, Facebook, etc.) and turn it on. Campaign setup varies depending on where you're advertising but includes uploading a display ad creative, choosing targeting criteria, setting your budget and other related parameters.

The above steps represent a simplified flow of how Retargeting ad setup works on the back end. The pixel, or code snippet, is what makes ad Retargeting possible. That snippet allows you to tag users who visit your website to display targeted ads to them once they leave your site.

The Future Of Ad Serving And Retargeting Technology Is Bright

Ad Serving technology is a part of everyone's digital lives, whether they realize it or not. Ad Server work in the background to track, serve, manage and optimize digital ads for millions (even billions) of people. Global digital ad campaign spending is projected to reach over $500 billion by 2023, up from $385 billion in 2020.

TechDogs-Future Of "Ad Serving And Retargeting" Technology-Graph Of Global Digital Ad Spending Worldwide.2018-2023

Monetization of web and app content would not be possible without Ad Serving and Retargeting ads technology. It generates revenue that funds free-to-use websites and platforms such as Google, Facebook and YouTube. Ad Servers act as an advertising platform to enable smaller publishers, websites and creators on sites, namely YouTube and Instagram, to monetize their content for every site visitor. It is the money machine behind the Internet's biggest behemoths.

So, now that you know a bit about how the digital ad sausage is made, you can show off your newfound expertise at the next company Zoom meeting!

Frequently Asked Questions

How does retargeting work in digital advertising?

Retargeting, also known as remarketing, is a digital advertising technique aimed at bringing users back to a website to take a specific action, such as completing a purchase or filling out a form. It works by using cookies, small snippets of code stored in a user's browser, to track their browsing history and behavior. When a user visits a website but leaves without completing the desired action, retargeting technology enables personalized ads to be displayed to that user across various digital platforms. These ads serve as reminders of the products or services they showed interest in, thereby increasing the likelihood of conversion.

What are the benefits of using retargeting in digital marketing campaigns?

Retargeting offers several benefits for advertisers looking to improve their digital marketing campaigns. Firstly, it helps reduce shopping cart abandonment rates by reminding users of items they left in their carts and encouraging them to complete the purchase. Additionally, retargeted ads tend to have higher engagement rates compared to regular ads, as they show users products or services they have already shown interest in. This increased engagement often leads to improved conversion rates, with studies showing that users who see retargeted ads are more likely to convert compared to those who do not.

Do all ad servers support retargeting campaigns?

Most of the top ad serving platforms, such as Google Ads, Facebook Ads, and AdRoll, support retargeting or remarketing campaigns. Retargeting has become a widely accepted tactic within the digital advertising landscape due to its effectiveness in reaching users who have already shown interest in a business or product. These platforms provide advertisers with the necessary tools to set up and manage retargeting campaigns, including installing retargeting pixels on their websites and defining custom target audiences. By leveraging retargeting capabilities, advertisers can maximize the effectiveness of their digital marketing efforts and increase the return on investment from their ad spend.

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