Pixeling for Search


Posted by Sara Burton, Account Director Anybody who runs display knows that pixeling users is critical in knowing who to target for some buys. Pixels, also known as cookies or tags are used flag a user so that you can have insight into where they’ve been on your site and what pages they visited and what actions they took. Display uses this information in retargeting, look alike targeting and behavioral targeting. These use cases are targeting people’s web behavior by reaching a certain individual. Either someone who has visited your site before, looks like someone who has converted, or displays certain behavior. This is all possible through pixeling, a tool that display is very familiar with. I’d like to tell you how search can be more effective using some of these same tactics. shutterstock_58638658 For search marketers, targeting keywords is how we segment users. However, search marketers could use display pixeling tactics to take their campaigns from good to great. Here are some examples:

  1. Search Retargeting with Google – This new feature allows you to display different ad copy to someone who has been on your site before and continuing to search. For example, let’s say you are an insurance company with a remarketing pixel on your auto page. If that same user does a search for Renters Insurance 6 months later, you can display an ad that speaks to saving money by bundling Auto and Renter products.
  2. Search Retargeting with Display – Several vendors out there use 2nd tier search engines to target people who have searched with targeted keywords in the past. For example, if I am a car dealership and I know that someone has searched for car models that I carry, I could serve them with an ad to come to my dealership and test drive a car today.
  3. Targeting Awareness, Cheaper Keywords with Search and Retargeting with Display – For a lot of categories, top terms are very competitive and therefore very expensive to be in top positions. Advertisers can run on keywords that are cheaper and “higher funnel” and therefore less competitive to cut costs. Advertisers can put a pixel on the landing page of these cheaper keywords and retarget them with display ads. For example, if I am a realtor, the keyword “condos in Chicago” may be very expensive as many realtors are bidding on this keyword. One way to be cost efficient is to bid on the keyword “moving to Chicago” or “jobs in Chicago” in other geolocations. Provided that I have a blog post or some content on this topic the user could visit this page and become familiar with my brand. Then,  I can pixel the user and serve them banner ads. By doing this, I will hopefully be top of mind when they get that job, move to Chicago and need a realtor.
  4. Negative Targeting Existing Customers – One concern that many search marketers have, especially on branded terms, is buying clicks of users that are already customers. One way to alleviate this concern is to create a pixel on a login page or the sign up page. That way you can identify people who are already customers and not serve ads to them by adding them as a “negative target.”
  5. Updated Ad Copy Based on Previous Behavior – Use pixel lists to see where people have been before and serve them ads based on past behavior. For example, there are times when someone looks for a credit card, visits the rewards cards but don’t purchase. Then, 6 months later they look for credit cards again. You can be sure to call out in your ads the cards that have the most desirable rewards programs.

When users hear about user tracking the notion makes them queasy. However, the biggest complaint of internet ads is that they are mostly irrelevant. If marketers are smarter about the information that is available through pixeling, they would give users the most relevant ad experience. Then, these users would thank them with purchase and loyalty.


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