Actionable tips, community conversations, and marketing inspiration.

Retargeting and Brand Awareness Ads: FAQs

Julie Zhou

VP of Digital Marketing and Growth

Expert advice from Julie Zhou, VP of Digital Marketing and Growth

The world of ads changes fast. Whether you’ve just launched your first campaign or you’ve got years of experience, there’s always something new to learn. You asked, we answered. Here are the top frequently asked questions about retargeting and brand awareness ads.

What are some good techniques for measuring brand awareness?

There are three KPIs I would focus on when looking at brand awareness - share of voice, branded search volume, and new site visitors.

  • Share of Voice is the volume of your brand or product mentions versus the mentions of your competitors’ online. This metric can be a good indicator for which brand has the better chance to be top of mind when it comes to a customer making their decision.

  • Branded Search Volume is how many people are searching for your company name, products, or solutions. Simply put, if you leave a memorable impression on your potential customers, they will want to learn more about you!

  • New Site Visitors is the number of direct and organic users visiting your site for the first time.  By tracking your volume of new site visitors, especially those who came in without the benefit of being referred by a channel like a blog post or paid ad, you get a good sense for how many potential customers are considering your brand.

A mistake we often see is marketers measuring the impact of their brand awareness campaigns solely by the number of visitors the campaign itself brought to their website. This very much undercounts the impact. Remember, the goal of building brand awareness is to build up your brand’s recognition and recall for the time when the customer needs to make the purchase – by that point they are unlikely to search for your ad to make the click.


Check out our ultimate brand building guide to learn more about setting your brand (and brand awareness campaigns) up for success.

How do you measure Share of Voice, and what tools do you recommend?

There are many tools that are dedicated to measuring share of voice (Awario, Brandwatch, Sprout Social, Talkwalker, Meltwater,etc.). At AdRoll, we use Meltwater! 

If you’re not ready to invest in a software, that doesn’t mean you can’t measure your share of voice. Determine what social media network(s) is most important to you and most prominent with your target audience and see what options and built-in analytics that those social networks have. 


Here’s a helpful article on how to increase your share of voice by optimizing your keywords in content and product listings.

We're just approaching this all for the first time, where do we start? What's the first step with retargeting?

When it comes to retargeting it’s all about segmentation of your customers and especially if you have a limited budget, going after your most cost effective customers first. Often, that’s your cart abandoners, as these customers have a super high intent to purchase! 

If you haven’t already, make a dedicated campaign targeting your cart abandoners. This should be a combination of both ads and emails. Our data shows that ecommerce brands who target cart abandoners with an omnichannel approach (ads + emails), those customers are twice as likely to make a purchase and act 2x as quickly than those targeted with ads alone.

Check out our Beginner’s Guide to Retargeting to help get started.

What attributes are the most effective for building audiences for retargeting? Demographics? Site behavior? Other?

The most important thing here before building an audience is determining what your success metrics are.

If your focus is return on ad spend (ROAS), especially with limited dollars, look to build an audience that is based on site behavior. This audience list is based on the actions that they’ve taken on your website to indicate what they are interested in or about to do – i.e. interest in a specific product or cart abandoners.

Demographics are one level removed from site behavior as these are inferred from other data services and not as telling as the direct actions a potential customer took on your site.

How long are you running retargeting ads to a single visitor? A few weeks, months or just keep going forever?

Cart abandonment retargeting definitely has a shelf life. You don’t want to continue showing these ads and emails to customers, especially if they’ve had a conversion event. Most softwares will automatically include this type of coding into your retargeting campaigns.

However, what about those that don’t convert? We recommend looking at your average purchase cycle and setting your campaign to mirror that timing. This can vary greatly across ecommerce brands depending on your industry, product, and price to name a few.

In addition, you can have retargeting campaigns for anyone who has ever visited your site. Since they’re often customers who are lightly engaged or very early in the acquisition cycle, these campaigns often act as brand awareness. The goal is to get the customer to learn more about who you are and what you stand for. These don’t need to have a shelf life and can go on forever.

What % of ad budget do you recommend for retargeting vs. just regular advertising?

Your actual percentage of spend will vary heavily on your industry and goals – especially during certain times of the year.

During the holiday shopping season, focusing on retargeting and abandoned cart recovery is critical for retailers. 97% of potential customers won’t make a purchase on their first visit to your website – however, these visitors tend to have the highest likelihood to convert as they are already interested in your product or service.

A great tool that you can use in determining your percentage spend is our Return on Ad Spend (ROAS) Calculator. This free calculator will make smart recommendations for how your brand should spend your dollars in order to maximize return on ad spend.

What can you recommend in terms of retargeting ads, especially for the holiday seasons?

The holiday shopping season is one of the most competitive times for marketers and can be intimidating for those just getting started or looking to make a big splash this year.

With CPMs (cost per mille) at their highest in Q4, focus on retargeting to customers that have the highest intent of purchase and are most likely to convert. In the heavy shopping season we’d say those would be your cart abandoners!

Retargeting ads are popular because they work — they have a clickthrough rate of 0.7%, which is significantly higher than the 0.07% rate for regular display ads. However, they come in all shapes and sizes (no seriously – check out How to Choose the Right Retargeting Formats and Ads for Resizing). If you’re brand new to retargeting ads, check out our Beginner’s Guide.

The holiday shopping season may be underway, but it’s not too late! Check out our Monthly Holiday Marketing Guide for details on how to get started and optimize your holiday strategy, as well as additional resources for seasonal success.

At a high-level, how do remarketing strategies differ from DTC to B2B businesses?

Remarketing and retargeting can work pretty similarly for DTC and B2B businesses. Both types of businesses see that 98% percent of web traffic will depart your website making a purchase (whether a product, service, or software). The important thing is to find tools – like AdRoll and RollWorks – that specialize in finding you the right audience based on your goals.

DTC and B2B optimize towards different goals on their websites. DTC companies want to drive customers to complete purchases online, so their conversion events typically consist of “add to cart” and “checkout completed”. On the other hand, B2B companies typically optimize towards driving leads via conversion events such as “demo requested”, “email provided”, or “meeting booked”. Since B2B companies often have lengthier and more complex purchase funnels that DTC companies, B2B companies tend to need to create more audience segments, experiment more often, and invest earlier in cross-channel attribution tools.

At what point are you risking ad exhausting your visitor where you are hurting the chance of converting the user?

The stats speak for themselves: a 2016 survey found that 46% of respondents unfollowed brands for posting too many promotional messages, 41% unfollowed because of irrelevant information, and almost 35% unfollowed brands that tweeted too much.

Here are some recommendations on how you can avoid brand fatigue:

  • Regularly review your campaign performance and A/B test to continue updating your strategy. Look into the past performance of your marketing channels and promotional tactics to identify where engagement rates for previous campaigns began to lag.

  • Work to get closer to your audience—build three to five marketing personas that you know your product resonates with. Use these personas to tailor your messages and build a relationship with your audience.

  • Customize messaging for each of your marketing channels and platforms. If your customer repeatedly sees the same messages in the same way, your brand can soon fade into the background. By creating and distributing valuable and relevant content to attract your audience, you can guide them along the buying journey until they convert.

  • Rotate ad creative by using several variations - by keeping up with a healthy rotation, you can achieve the best ROI, increase your click-through rates, and avoid brand fatigue. You’ll also be able to test which creative prompts the most engagement and optimize your campaigns from there.

  • Include your marketing objectives in your promotional schedule – this should be a timeline of all your activities, but it should also show how they align to your marketing objectives—specifically the metrics your team uses to determine the success of campaigns. This way, you’re placing strategy at the heart of your plan.

Launch Your Brand Awareness + Retargeting Ads With AdRoll

Save time and money with the one streamlined marketing and advertising platform. Launch, pause, and edit ad campaigns across all the places you want to advertise, plus use that data to see your campaigns holistically and make improvements. Get started with AdRoll today!

Explore Next