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Everything marketers need to know about holiday retargeting

With better location data and a firmer understanding of how mobile impacts the purchase cycle, retargeting should be at the top of marketers? wish lists this season to push aggressive offers at consumers. Here is how marketers can pull it off to gain a competitive edge.

This has been a big year for mobile retargeting with increases in programmatic media buys and more location-based campaigns. However, it is important to remember that although retargeting can be used by a variety of different verticals, the brands most likely to leverage retargeting are brands that have nearly identical competitors, such as department stores or mass merchants.

?Retargeting was very nascent last season,? said Dave Martin, senior vice president of media at Ignited, El Segundo, CA. ?Most marketers were still focused on app downloads, but this year we?re going to see a lot more brands reaching back out to customers who may have abandoned their mobile shopping cart or slowed their use of a specific shopping app."

Next-level targeting
For the group of marketers that have embraced mobile for quite a few years, location-based marketing has become table stakes.

Now the emphasis is on retargeting and getting more granular with geo-precise location.

Additionally, capitalizing on the in-store experience has become a bigger priority this year for mass merchants such as Target and Walmart.

Compared to basic geo-targeted campaigns where marketers only have a split second to make an impression on consumers when they are at a specific location, retargeting gives marketers a bigger opportunity to reinforce holiday marketing messages. 

Take geo-conquesting, the tactic of wrapping geo-fences around competitors locations to drive in-store traffic, for example.

Marketers can target consumers that they know have visited their stores in the past that are currently at competitors? stores.

Retargeting is also a growing area for out-of-home advertising.

Marketers can fence the area around a billboard and poster to match a future mobile ad to a consumer that an advertiser knows was in the same area as the out-of-home ad earlier.

In past holiday seasons, this tactic has not been widely used by marketers, but that could change this year as mobile becomes more critical to driving in-store traffic.

Retargeting will also be particularly important this holiday season because of the shorter time frame between Thanksgiving and Christmas.

This means that holiday budgets are more spread out this year to cover the days between Thanksgiving and Christmas, which are ripe for mobile retargeting, according to Monica Ho, vice president of marketing at xAd, New York.

?These in-between days are the ideal time for retargeting as it gives marketers the ability to re-enforce their messaging and deals to consumers they know are interested in shopping based on recent visitation to one of their stores whether they are near the store or at home or elsewhere,? Ms. Ho said.

As far as the logistics go, setting up a retargeted location-based campaign is the same as setting up a geo-fenced campaign.

Given the physical space that department stores occupy, department stores are primed to use mobile retargeting this holiday season, said David Petersen, CEO of Sense Networks, New York.

?Though specific brands such as Levi?s or Nike can find success in mobile retargeting, department retail stores will drive the most ROI from retargeting campaigns during the holiday season,? he said.

?Once a consumer is in your store for a specific offer, they will likely look for other items on their shopping list at this store, too, since holiday shopping lists are generally more broad than lists throughout the year.?

Marketers should also look beyond basic location data this year for re-targeting.

For example, a department store that is able to target consumers that have bought personal items can leverage retargeting to spur that consumer to also buy holiday gifts, according to Mr. Petersen. 

Similarly, a retailer such as Banana Republic could target consumers that previously shopped at a J.Crew or Anthropologie store and send them mobile deals before they are actually at a store.

Real-time ads
There is also a big opportunity for application marketers this holiday season around retargeting.

Facebook, for instance, is pushing a new retargeting tool for mobile app install units that target consumers with specific offers to drive app usage.

Other retailers such as JackThreads are running in-app banner ads to target consumers that have downloaded its mobile commerce app (see story). 

Then there is automated media buying.

Automated media buying is still a nascent part of mobile advertising, but is also a tactic that more marketers will test out this year to retarget consumers.

In particular, real-time bidding is a growing area of interest for marketers looking to match an ad with a specific consumer profile in real-time. 

With certain ad exchanges such as Nexage seeing more than 50 percent of revenue from RTB, marketers are clearly increasingly concerned about hitting the right demographic at the right time.

During the holidays, this is particularly important for marketers that want to drive quick sales.

The challenge for publishers though is that much of the inventory being sold via RTB is leftover space, and might not be as appealing for marketers shelling out significant amounts of money for holiday campaigns.

Therefore, real-time bidding could be most effective for marketers making a heavy push on the big holiday shopping days such as Thanksgiving Day, Black Friday or Christmas Eve.

?Real-time bidding for specific mobile impressions allows marketers to serve up content in a timely manner, so we should see great performance from well-timed retargeting campaigns on handsets and tablets,? Ignited?s Mr. Martin said.

Final Take
Lauren Johnson is associate reporter on Mobile Marketer, New York