Simply put, display remarketing from search ads involves using audience signals from paid search campaigns to enhance the targeting and effectiveness of programmatic display campaigns. Advertisers are able to identify and reach consumers early in the purchasing journey and then engage them at key points throughout the journey on the basis of their actions, which indicate where they currently are—and where they may be headed—as they form opinions, consider brands, establish preferences, and ultimately decide what to buy.
If a user conducts a keyword search and clicks a paid search ad, the advertiser can use the resulting signal (including the specific keywords) to build remarketing lists for display ads. So, for example, advertisers can compile lists of users who have searched for generic, branded, or competitors’ keywords and remarket to those consumers—at tailored bid prices and display frequencies—using ads designed to engage each group in distinct ways. Alternatively, advertisers can build lists of users who have searched using specific keywords (even at the product level) and remarket to those users with creative content designed for particular products.
Remarketing to consumers who have clicked a search ad is distinct from (and potentially more effective than) content-based targeting or standard remarketing because it is built on data that conveys users’ intent—data that is not generally available to target or shape display campaigns.
Our 2014 study showed that display retargeting from paid search ads delivered, on average, approximately 40 percent lower CPA than content-based and standard-behavioral-targeting techniques. (See Exhibit 1.) Performance was monitored across several attribution models. Some advertisers saw improvements greater than 75 percent, and remarketing from the best-performing groups of keywords generated CPA improvements better than 80 percent.
There’s a further benefit. Leveraging audience signals from paid search in display remarketing enables advertisers to break up the purchasing journey and engage consumers at critical points, such as early in the process when they are gathering basic information.
Consumers typically start with generic keywords and use brand names later in the search process. For some advertisers, display remarketing from generic search keywords worked better than all other techniques when measured using attribution models that assign credit early in the user journey, such as during the first interaction. (See Exhibit 2.)