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Search retargeting is the first cousin of website retargeting and they often get along wonderfully when working and search_retargeting_getting-the-right-keywordcoupled together as a two-punch online advertising strategy. Different than website retargeting, which focuses on displaying advertisements only to people that have previously visited a specific website, search retargeting focuses on displaying ads to people that have previously searched for specific keywords or keyword phrases.

Simply put, search retargeting is a highly effective way to target people who have proven to be interested in certain topics, services and/or products based on their search history.

One thing to keep in mind is that by offering a search retargeting service it does not mean that ExactDrive is crawling search engines. What it means is that the advertiser creates a list of keywords and keyword phrases and as we see people surfing the Internet that have previously searched for items on that list we display an advertisement to them.

The above outlines search retargeting as a very straight-forward online advertising solution that moves the power of intent from search to the branding influence of display advertising. However, as most of us know, even the easiest and most simple things in life can be riddled with mistakes and pitfalls if we don't take precautions. Lets take a look at two critical mistakes to avoid when creating and running a search retargeting campaign.

1) Not All Keywords Are Equal

People often like to think that everything is create equally. The reality is that this is just not true, everything in life is not created equally and the same thing is true with online advertising. Some coffees taste better than others, some pants are more comfortable and targeting some keywords are extrmely useful while others are a horrendous waste of time.

Running a keyword level performance report for your search engine marketing (SEM) campaign (if you are actively running one) is a fantastic place to start researching and generating a list of keywords and keyword phrases. You will be able to export a mixture of top performing keywords/phrases and top volume keywords/phrases. If you are not currently running any search engine marketing campaigns then digging into your website analytics is another great place to seek useful keyword data. You will be able to isolate the top organic keywords and keyword phrases that people are searching for that bring them to your website. Depending on how your have your website and website analytics setup the available keyword data will include keywords that are generating the most page views and conversions. Note: Two excellent free web analytics software services to check out are: http://piwik.org and http://clicky.com

Keep in mind that when creating a list of keywords and keyword phrases to use in your search retargeting campaign it is key to actively use common sense along the way. The keyword "the" or "a" are NOT good keyword candidates as the volume will be way too high and the accuracy of a user's search intent will be weak at best.

On the other hand, even though very specific keywords or keyword phrases are finite and useful the overall impression volume generated as a result will be way too low for an online advertising campaign. For instance, "Aspen Colorado vegetarian restaurants open on Tuesdays until at least 9:00 pm" might be a very specific keyword phrases of the ideal potential customer but if 1-2 people every 60 days are searching for the phrase it will not generate enough impressions to make it worth your while.

2) Watch Out For Display Banner Ad Burn Out

Creative burn out isn't a potential issue only with search retargeting but with online advertising as a whole. It is important to keep potential customers engaged with fresh, concise and simplified display ads at all times. That said, search retargeting does offer a unique opportunity to display several different sets of static banner ads related to various keyword categories such as those making up the travel or entertainment categories. Potentially more interesting, search retargeting opens up the opportunity to generate real-time dynamic ads from keywords or keyword phrases that have been searched for in the past.

Displaying personalized dynamic ads generated in real-time based on the person's geography, keywords searched and historic web surfing habits can offer a very powerful and high-performance opportunity. This goes beyond the typical display ad approach while combating the rise in audience and inventory fragmentation. In addition, once your dynamic display ads are launched, they'll automatically stay up-to-date with your latest products and offers as well as the most recently updated keyword and keyword phrase list.

Topics: Media Buying & Planning, Online Advertising, Dynamic Display Ads, retargeting, Search Retargeting

Tim Nichols

Written by Tim Nichols

Tim Nichols is a founding partner at ExactDrive, a digital media buying agency with white label, reseller and managed service options available. ExactDrive plans, manages, and optimizes online advertising campaigns with the objective of delivering measurable value and empowering clients to find precisely targeted audiences. ExactDrive has offices in Minneapolis, MN and Milwaukee, WI.

Tim Nichols is also a contributing author on Forbes.com.