Retail Marketers Aren't Sold on Retargeting

Many can't measure results, either

Author: Krista Garcia

May 8, 2018

Nearly everyone has had the experience of a product they peeked at only once following them around the internet. Shoppers dislike these ads, and it turns out marketers aren't in love with them either. 

According to a February 2018 Nanigans survey of retail marketers, a vast majority (83%) think they would’ve achieved the same sales results if they hadn’t used retargeting. And yet, just 28% said they had the ability to measure whether sales occurred, organically or not.

Even so, 53% of these retail marketers planned to spend more on performance ads in the next 12 months—on average, 24% more.

This theme held true when respondents were asked about their biggest digital advertising challenges. More than half (55%) cited measuring true business impact. That sentiment was felt more strongly by larger companies (63%) than smaller ones (43%). Visibility into how ad budgets are being spent (39%) and ad fraud and viewability concerns (39%) were also challenges for respondents overall.

On the consumer side, 88% of those surveyed by Nanigans said they'd seen an ad for something they already bought, and 77% felt they see too many retargeting ads from the same retailers. One of the leading ways consumers think retailers could make retargeting better would be to recognize when they are no longer interested. The top response, however, was to stop using retargeting altogether, which might be wishful thinking. 

In the US, ad budget allocation for retargeting placed right in the middle of the nine tactics ranked by marketers in a March 2018 Rakuten Marketing survey. In 2018, these marketers planned to spend 8.4% of their budgets on retargeting. Social media marketing (20.1%) and search engine optimization (19.2%) took the largest shares.

Proving value was named as the top threat to marketing in 2018 (44.1%), according to the US marketers in Rakuten's survey. Marketers in the other five countries polled (Australia, France, Germany, Singapore and the UK) cited different threats, like changing consumer expectations or losing customers. Justifying marketing spend isn’t a uniquely American phenomenon, though it appears that US marketers are feeling more pressure to prove their worth.