A lot of e-commerce companies and travel search engines use this very successfully as it’s supposed to give better ROAS (return on advertising spends). It’s called retargeting with dynamic creatives.
Here is a diagrammatic representation of how this work:
Step 1 – Retargeting company leaving a cookie on you
1. When you visit an e-commerce website which works with a retargeting provider it leaves a cookie on you when you visit the website for the first time.
2. As and when you browse the website depending on the strategy either the recently viewed products, the product categories that you are browsing or your wish list gets stored in an encrypted form through cookies. Travel search engines generally log the recent searches.
Step 2 – Retargeting company adds you to audience segments across ad-exchanges
1. This happens transparently in the background. The retargeting company loads iframes and calls pixels for various ad-exchanges like Google AdX, RightMedia, AppNexus and other Open RTB providers to add you to the audience segments on the respective ad-exchanges.
2. This is important for retargeting campaigns as based on the audience segments that you are tagged onto, you can be re-targeted.
Step 3 – Retargeting company loads a dynamic creative
1. When you visit a publisher website like Yahoo Finance or other site which have an ad-exchange ad-tag; the ad-exchanges pass this information to the advertiser (retargeting provider) along with cookie information about you.
2. There are multiple advertisers that are running campaigns to show ads on the publisher website directly or by bidding on their own audience segments. This exact process varies across exchanges (read more on Real Time Bidding). If the ad-exchange decides to show the retargeting company’s ad then it sends it’s ad-tag as response to your browser while you are on the publisher website.
3. This ad-tag that you see is generally a flash file being served through the retargeting company’s domain and thus it also has access to the cookies it had set while you were browsing the e-commerce website. This is where the flash ad calls an xml feed to show the product listings (images, prices, etc.) in the ad creative.
Beware, you may get re-targeted 😉