Retargeting Banner Ads Explained: A Beginner’s Guide to Display Remarketing

May 22, 2024
By Magee Clegg


Retargeting banner ads are a powerful tool in digital marketing that help businesses reconnect with potential customers who have previously interacted with their website. They work by displaying targeted ads to users who have shown interest in your products or services but did not complete a desired action, such as making a purchase.

Quick Overview of Retargeting Banner Ads:
Purpose: Re-engage visitors who left without converting
How it Works: Uses cookies to track user behavior and display relevant ads
Benefits: Increases conversion rates, brand recall, and customer engagement

In today’s competitive digital marketplace, leveraging retargeting ads can make a significant difference. It’s a way to keep your brand in front of potential customers and guide them back to your site to complete their purchase. Cleartail Marketing specializes in creating effective retargeting campaigns tailored to your business needs, ensuring you’re always top of mind for potential buyers.

Infographic description: An infographic showing the percentage increase in conversions, brand recall, and engagement through retargeting banner ads. It visually illustrates the process from initial site visit to displaying targeted ads, and the final conversion step. - retargeting banner ads infographic pillar-4-steps

What Are Retargeting Banner Ads?

Retargeting banner ads are a form of online advertising that aim to re-engage users who have previously interacted with your website but did not complete a desired action, such as making a purchase or signing up for a newsletter. These ads appear as banners on various websites and platforms the user visits after leaving your site.


Retargeting banner ads use small pieces of code called pixels. When a user visits your website, the pixel drops a cookie on their browser. This cookie then tracks the user’s online activities and signals ad servers to show your ads to this specific user as they browse other sites.


The primary purpose of retargeting banner ads is to bring back potential customers who have shown interest in your products or services but didn’t convert on their first visit. Studies show that only about 2% of users convert on their first visit, leaving a whopping 98% needing a nudge to return and complete their purchase.


Personalization is a cornerstone of effective retargeting. By serving ads tailored to the user’s previous interactions with your site, you can significantly increase the likelihood of conversion. For example, if a user browsed a specific product category, the retargeting ads can showcase similar or complementary products. According to Single Grain, 71% of consumers prefer ads that align with their interests and are twice as likely to click on them.


Retargeting banner ads are highly engaging because they remind users of their initial interest in your products. These ads serve as a gentle reminder and keep your brand top-of-mind. For instance, if a user abandoned their shopping cart, a retargeting ad could feature the exact items left behind, encouraging them to return and complete the purchase. This strategy not only boosts conversion rates but also enhances customer engagement.

Transition to the next section:
Understanding what retargeting banner ads are is the first step. Let’s delve into how these ads actually work to keep your brand in front of potential customers.

How Do Retargeting Banner Ads Work?

Retargeting banner ads are a powerful tool in digital marketing, but how exactly do they work? Let’s break it down into simple steps: pixels, cookies, tracking, ad servers, and user behavior.

Pixels: The Foundation

At the heart of retargeting is a small piece of code called a pixel. When a visitor comes to your website, this pixel is embedded into their browser. Think of it as planting a tiny flag that says, “This user was here.”

Cookies: The Trackers

Once the pixel is in place, it drops a cookie into the user’s browser. Cookies are small data files that track user activity without collecting personal information. They don’t slow down your site or affect its performance. Instead, they quietly gather data on what pages the user visits and what products they look at.

Tracking: Following the User Journey

As the user continues their online journey, these cookies track their movements. This data is invaluable for understanding user behavior. It tells you what products interest them, how long they spend on your site, and what pages they visit.

Ad Servers: Delivering the Ads

The cookies send signals to ad servers, which are platforms that deliver ads to users. When the ad server gets a signal, it knows to serve a retargeting ad to that specific user. This happens almost in real-time, ensuring that the ad appears shortly after the user leaves your site.

User Behavior: Tailoring the Ads

The beauty of retargeting is its ability to tailor ads based on user behavior. For example, if a user spent a lot of time looking at running shoes but didn’t make a purchase, the ad server can deliver an ad featuring those exact shoes. This personalized approach makes the ad more relevant and increases the chances of conversion.

Retargeting Process - retargeting banner ads

Putting It All Together

Imagine this scenario:

  1. A user visits your online store and looks at several products but doesn’t buy anything.
  2. The pixel on your site drops a cookie into their browser.
  3. As they browse other websites, the cookie sends signals to ad servers.
  4. The ad servers then deliver ads featuring the products they viewed on your site.

This process happens seamlessly and efficiently, keeping your brand in front of potential customers and encouraging them to return and complete their purchase.

Understanding these components helps you see how retargeting banner ads work to keep your brand top-of-mind for potential customers. Next, we’ll explore the different types of retargeting banner ads you can use to achieve your marketing goals.

Types of Retargeting Banner Ads

There are several types of retargeting banner ads that you can use to bring potential customers back to your site. Each type targets users based on different behaviors and interactions. Let’s dive into the main types:

Site Retargeting

Site retargeting is the most common form. It targets users who have visited specific pages on your website but didn’t complete a desired action, like making a purchase.

How It Works:
1. A user visits your website and browses products.
2. A cookie is placed in their browser.
3. When they leave your site, they start seeing your ads on other websites.

This method keeps your brand in front of users who have already shown interest in your products, increasing the chances they will return and convert.

Search Retargeting

Search retargeting focuses on users who have searched for keywords related to your products or services but may not have visited your site yet.

How It Works:
1. A user searches for a keyword related to your business.
2. They see your ads on other sites they visit afterward.

This type of retargeting helps you reach potential customers who are actively looking for products or services like yours.

Social Media Retargeting

Social media retargeting targets users based on their interactions on social media platforms like Facebook, Instagram, or Twitter.

How It Works:
1. A user interacts with your social media content or visits your site from a social media link.
2. They start seeing your ads on their social media feeds.

This method leverages the power of social media to keep your brand visible to users who have already engaged with your content.

Email Retargeting

Email retargeting targets users based on their interactions with your email campaigns.

How It Works:
1. A user opens your email and clicks on a link to your site.
2. They start seeing your ads on other websites.

This method is particularly effective for re-engaging users who have shown interest in your emails but haven’t yet converted.

Each type of retargeting banner ad has its own strengths and can be used to target users at different stages of the buying journey. Understanding these types helps you choose the best strategy to bring potential customers back to your site and increase conversions.

Next, we’ll look at the benefits of using these retargeting banner ads in your marketing strategy.

Benefits of Using Retargeting Banner Ads

Retargeting banner ads offer several powerful benefits that can transform your marketing strategy. Let’s explore the key advantages:

Increased Conversion

Most visitors don’t convert on their first visit. Retargeting can drastically boost this figure by bringing them back. Studies show that conversion rates can improve by hundreds of percentage points. This is because these users are already familiar with your brand and more likely to click on your ads.

Fact: Site visitors who are retargeted with display ads are 70% more likely to convert on your site.

Brand Awareness

Retargeting isn’t just about conversions. It’s also a fantastic way to increase brand awareness. By showing your banners to the right audience based on their behavior on your site, you keep your brand top of mind.

Tip: The more you appear in front of your audience, the less your competitors do. This consistent presence can significantly raise your company’s profile.

Upselling Opportunities

Retargeting can also target people who have already purchased your product or service. Suggesting complementary items can lead to additional sales. For example, if someone bought a camera, you could retarget them with ads for lenses or tripods.

Benefit: This approach shows users that you care about their needs and preferences, which can lead to higher customer satisfaction and loyalty.

Abandoned Cart Recovery

Many users add items to their shopping carts but leave without completing the purchase. On average, around 65% of users do this. Retargeting can help bring these potential customers back.

Strategy: Use gentle reminders or offer discount codes to encourage them to complete their purchase.

Case Study: A company called Peak was able to recover 12% of abandoned shopping carts through email retargeting.

By leveraging these benefits, retargeting banner ads can significantly enhance your marketing efforts. Next, we’ll discuss best practices to make the most of your retargeting campaigns.

Best Practices for Retargeting Banner Ads

To make the most of your retargeting banner ads, follow these best practices:

Audience Segmentation

Segment your audience to create personalized and relevant messages. For example, you can divide your audience based on geographic location, interests, behaviors, and demographics. This helps in delivering targeted ads that resonate better with specific groups.

Example: If you sell both men’s and women’s clothing, create separate ad campaigns for each gender to ensure relevance.

Frequency Caps

Set frequency caps to control how often your ads are shown to the same person. This prevents ad fatigue and keeps your campaign effective without overwhelming your audience.

Tip: A good starting point is to limit your ads to 3-5 impressions per user per day.

Dynamic Ads

Utilize dynamic ads to show personalized content based on your user’s browsing history and interests. This increases the likelihood of conversions by reminding users of the specific products they viewed.

Example: If a user looked at a pair of shoes on your site, a dynamic ad can show that exact pair, along with similar items.

Optimized Landing Pages

Optimize your landing pages to make it easy for users to take the desired action, whether it’s making a purchase, signing up for a newsletter, or filling out a form. Ensure a clear call-to-action and a streamlined conversion process.

Tip: Use A/B testing to find the most effective layout and messaging for your landing pages.

Testing and Refining

Test and refine your campaigns by experimenting with different ad formats, messaging, visuals, and audience segments. Monitor key metrics such as click-through rates, conversion rates, and return on ad spend to identify what works best.

Example: A/B test different images and headlines to see which combination drives the highest engagement.

User Privacy

Respect user privacy by being transparent about the data you collect and how you use it for retargeting purposes. Provide clear options for users to opt out if they wish.

Tip: Include a privacy policy link in your ads and on your website to build trust with your audience.

By following these best practices, you can maximize the effectiveness of your retargeting banner ads and drive better results. Next, we’ll answer some frequently asked questions about retargeting banner ads.

Frequently Asked Questions about Retargeting Banner Ads

What is the difference between retargeting and remarketing?

Retargeting and remarketing are often used interchangeably, but they have distinct differences.

Retargeting focuses on using ads to recapture the attention of potential leads based on their online behavior. For example, if someone visits your website but doesn’t make a purchase, you can show them ads for the products they viewed when they visit other websites.

Remarketing, on the other hand, typically involves reaching out to past or inactive customers through targeted content, often via emails. This could be an email reminding someone about an abandoned cart or a membership renewal.

Targeting methods differ as well. Retargeting uses cookies and pixels to track user behavior and show relevant ads, while remarketing relies on email lists and user data to send personalized messages.

Can you retarget with display ads?

Yes, you can retarget with display ads. Dynamic retargeting allows you to show personalized content to users based on their past interactions with your website. This means the ads they see will be tailored to their interests, increasing the likelihood of conversion.

Responsive display ads are a great way to do this. These ads automatically adjust their size, appearance, and format to fit available ad spaces, making them versatile and effective.

What is an example of a retargeting ad?

Imagine you run an online clothing store. A user visits your site and looks at a pair of shoes but leaves without buying. Later, while browsing another site, they see an ad featuring those exact shoes with a message like “Still interested? Get 10% off now!”

This ad works because it’s a personalized reminder based on the user’s behavior. It encourages them to return to your site and complete the purchase, turning a potential lead into a conversion.

In conclusion, retargeting banner ads can be incredibly effective when done right. By understanding the differences between retargeting and remarketing, utilizing display ads, and creating personalized reminders, you can significantly boost your marketing efforts. Next, we’ll delve into the conclusion and summarize the key points.


We’ve covered a lot about retargeting banner ads in this guide. To summarize, retargeting banner ads are a powerful tool that can help you reconnect with potential customers who have shown interest in your products but haven’t yet made a purchase. By using pixels and cookies, you can track user behavior and serve personalized ads that remind them of what they left behind.

Key Takeaways:

  • Retargeting banner ads use tracking technologies like pixels and cookies to show ads to users who have previously visited your site.
  • There are various types of retargeting ads, including site, search, social media, and email retargeting.
  • The benefits include increased conversions, enhanced brand awareness, and opportunities to upsell or recover abandoned carts.
  • Best practices involve audience segmentation, setting frequency caps, using dynamic ads, and optimizing landing pages.

At Cleartail Marketing, we specialize in helping businesses like yours implement effective retargeting strategies. By leveraging our expertise, you can create engaging and personalized retargeting campaigns that drive results.

Ready to Get Started?

If you’re interested in boosting your conversions and making the most out of your marketing efforts, contact us today! Our team of experts is here to assist you in crafting tailored retargeting banner ads that resonate with your audience.

For more information, visit our Retargeting Display Advertising page or call us at 312-549-8704.

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