Last March Google initiated a trial of what it calls “remarketing” for display and text ads throughout its content network. Today it’s opening up the option for all AdWords advertisers. To be clear this is not “search retargeting” and doesn’t involve any Google.com query data.
The benefit of this is being able to reach consumers, throughout the Google content network (including on YouTube), who came to an advertiser’s website but didn’t transact. Pages can be tagged and cookies are used to identify that visitor or a category of people, who then later see an ad or offer directed specifically at their interests. The Google AdWords blog explains how it works:
Let’s say you’re a basketball team with tickets that you want to sell. You can put a piece of code on the tickets page of your website, which will let you later show relevant ticket ads (such as last minute discounts) to everyone who has visited that page, as they subsequently browse sites in the Google Content Network. In addition to your own site, you can also remarket to users who visited your YouTube brand channel or clicked your YouTube homepage ad.
You can also run a number of remarketing campaigns at the same time. For example, you could offer discount game tickets to users who’ve previously visited your tickets page, advertise VIP hospitality packages to users who clicked on your “How to get to the arena” page, and advertise a sale on team merchandise to users who previously visited your YouTube brand channel.
You might be inclined to call this “behavioral targeting” and so did I on the phone with Google yesterday. However, Google doesn’t like that term and finds it imprecise. In addition there’s a stigma associated with it among privacy groups and to some degree the FTC (and maybe some regulation coming in the near future). Thus Google uses the more positive term “Interest Based Advertising.”