Capturing the attention of the average Internet surfer is difficult. Pop-up ads are blocked and banner ads are ignored. The more savy the user, the more likely they are to see any kind of ad as white noise.

There is one exception: if someone is interested in the product being advertised, they’ll notice the ad. To capture the eyes of your potential customer, you need to make sure that whatever is showing up when they click on your page is something they’re already interested in.

Behavioral Retargeting
Ad retargeting works by showing potential customers items that they’ve expressed interest in. For example, if you add something to your wish list on, or even simply view it, Amazon is likely to send you an email over the next couple days reminding you about whatever it was you viewed. Instead of using their advertising budget on a random product, they’re using it on a specific item that you’ve already seen – leading to an increase in profit.

How it Works
Whenever you click something on the Internet, a tiny piece of information called a “cookie” is stored on your computer. This cookie tells the server what pages you clicked, how long you were on each of them, and what you clicked while on the page. For example, if you were shopping for a jacket, a cookie would show what jackets you looked at, how long you looked at them for, and what you clicked on after you were finished browsing. Once a website has these cookies, it can retarget its advertisements according to your behaviors. The next time you visit that site, instead of seeing a random ad, you’ll see a banner displaying the jacket you clicked on but didn’t buy.

Potential Benefits
Behavioral retargeting lets you advertise products that the customer has already expressed interest in. Follow ups can be done through email (as with Amazon), or by changing the banner ads the next time they visit your website. Instead of blindly putting up ads and crossing your fingers, you’ll be showing products to the people who notice them – giving you multiple opportunities to make a sale, instead of just one. The more times your customer sees something, the more likely they are to buy it. Behavioral retargeting – finding out what people are interested, and then selling them that product – is the next wave in Internet marketing.

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