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How Retargeting Gets Our SaaS $650 for $6 (baremetrics.io)
46 points by aculver on April 3, 2014 | hide | past | favorite | 23 comments

The "$650 for $6" part is a bit disingenuous. That's what you spent showing banners to people that saw your site and eventually converted. You might have gotten that $650 without spending a single dollar if they were going to convert anyway. It's not unusual, especially in B2B, for someone to convert days or weeks after the first visit. You probably also spent more than $0 acquiring some of those visitors to get them on the retargeting list in the first place -- retargeting doesn't bring anyone new in.

What needs to be compared is conversion rate with/without retargeting (i.e. retarget only a portion of the same traffic at the same time), and whether the added conversions, if there are any, bring in more revenue than it cost to do the additional advertising. That's something you can measure rather than guess or speculate based on anecdotal feedback.

Not to say that retargeting isn't probably working out for you. I use it as well (also with Perfect Audience, they're great). But I have also wasted enough money on ads that felt like they were working but really weren't that I take the time to measure results now. For example, I don't retarget every visitor to the site. Only hitting people that viewed the pricing or signup pages works just as well.

Dan, I don't spend any money on bringing in new customers. The only money I spend on any marketing at all is via retargeting.

Hey folks. This is Brad from Perfect Audience. Happy to answer any questions about Retargeting.

If anyone on HN wants to get started, go ahead and ping us at support@perfectaudience.com with the subject line: "Hello from HN" and we can hook you up with some extra trial credits.


You glossed over the part where 38/41 of your conversions are view through conversions.

A view through conversion occurs when a user sees your ad, returns to your site through another channel and then converts.

How often do you see an ad banner, don't click on it, then go back to the site because of the banner? View through conversions are a bullshit metric.

Hi, Kyle.

View through conversions are a metric. They are not a bullshit metric. We know this because we work with thousands of companies and have run lots of "lift tests" to determine incrementality.

Some folks see a big lift, others see a smaller lift.

It depends on your product, funnel, and a host of other factors outside our control as an ad company.

The other annoying thing about the "view through conversions are bullshit" meme is that it implies that all advertising throughout the history of civilization is bullshit. A trip down 101, where several companies with very smart marketers are running billboards shows the fallacy of that. People still buy print ads. Bus ads. Any business that comes from those would also qualify as "view through conversions".

At Perfect Audience we record all the conversions, click and view, and then give you tools to assign a "multiplier" to them based on how much weight you want to give them.

We're rather give you lots of data and easy ways to organize it than offer a black box experience like most of our competitors.

Kyle! Thanks for the comment. As with anything anywhere ever, YMMV. Just because a metric is bogus for one business doesn't mean it is across the board.

I have a phone call with almost every new customer and the data from those calls supports VTC as a metric...nearly all new customers saw Baremetrics everywhere before they ultimately converted.

Lots of reasons why that's the case for our business (goes back to the value proposition I mentioned in the article).

Obviously this isn't the case for everyone, but I'm confident in that metric for us.

A way to attribute view through conversions is to have Perfect Audience run a test for you:

Keep cookie-ing people but don't show half of them any ads. Then compare the conversion rate to the people shown ads and come up with VTR attribution coefficient.

Does Perfect Audience support such testing feature natively? Would be fantastic if I could do that without any configuration on my end.

Not currently but we're working on it! Drop us a line at support@perfectaudience.com. I can say for certain that our support team would love to "roll" you away from our distinguished competitor.

Thanks. We(Plivo) actually tried PA out for the dev-targeting display ad option. (not retargeting). We didn't feel we had the kind of ROI we wanted at that time.

Incidentally, would the reports from Conversion Explorer be more granular than the conversion reports at Adroll? (with Adroll, it's not possible to see the "who" part, but when and where, yes)

You're absolutely right.

I totally get your point but I don't think VTC is a total BS. With services like Adroll, which I use, you can set a time window for a view event to be considered a conversion (VTC). (i.e. with 5-day time window, if someone is served an impression and converts after 5 days, that won't count as a conversion). This way, you can get a better net impact of view events.) And I think the default setting of retargeting ads providers won't offer a short time window like 5 days.

Yep. Those features are very helpful for giving marketers control over what gets counted and how. Another feature we've added to the mix is a "Conversion Explorer that gives details on who converted, when, and from which ads so you can take that data and reconcile it against your other reporting.

A few weeks ago, I searched for an email newsletter service that was based in Europe, preferably in Germany. I landed on a couple US-based sites and since then, I was retargeted by their ads all the time. But them being located in the States was a dealbreaker. All these ads never worked on me, because there was a specific reason I left the sites in the first place.

Leaving a site is a signal of disinterest, which is completely ignored. So, it would be interesting to take retargeting to the next level, by understanding why someone left the website and build up a bunch of triggers that would exclude some visitors.

E. g.: Person visits our blog, but leaves after that. Person reappears on another site of the same ad network that has keywords like "free", "open source" etc. in it -> strong signal that he doesn't want to pay -> remove from retargeting.

To deal with this, we check if a visitor is coming via search and if so do not show the tracking code / tag. We just focus on people who are coming direct to our site, which is a stronger interest gauge.

I like the transparency in this post. It's great that you let us look at your numbers so willingly (e.g. https://demo.baremetrics.io)

It will be interesting to see, if there is a "ad blindness" effect kicking in after a few months. I would love to read a report in 3-6 months.

BTW: Your style of writing is great :-)

That's why you rotate the creative and continually test new variations.

I've been using retargeting (perfect audience) for the last 2 months and find it useful.

First of all, it is extremely inexpensive and highly qualified. Compare to LinkedIn or Twitter where the CPM is 5x to 10x greater and, in my experience, less qualified than people who have already come to our site.

The dollar amount is quite low. In the last 30 days, 176,333 impressions were served for a total of $377.68 That's a lot of eyeballs for less than $400 a month.

To me, even if no one ever converted, that is worth it simply as an investment in brand building.

We have also done a special offer only available as a retargeted ad, that is converting very well (17 in the past month directly from the ad / special).

How much weight do you put on assisted conversions (VTC within perfect audience)? I've found that aCPA for my site is great at also around $5 but the vast majority of these conversions are assisted conversions, i.e. not direct click throughs.

Have you sanity checked your conversion rates?

One thing that comes up with our customers is they say they'd like to see more click conversions, but it turns out, the landing page they're sending traffic to is bad or over optimized.

Meanwhile, people simply SEEING the ads are going to their main home page and signing up normally.

So we've found it helpful to recommend folks compare post-click conversion rates to their other channels to see if that makes sense.

Retargeting is a pain in the butt, you click on an interview of an actor that happens to be in a women's magazine, and then you get ads for dresses and bikinis for week. You click one popular song, and you're flagged as a teenager.

That's because those folks are doing it wrong. :) They're throwing crap-tons of money hoping something will stick.

One site has been continually spamming me with ads after I visited their site once.

Now I click on their ads whenever I see them, just to cost them $1 (or whatever they're paying per click).

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