Introducing the contenders for retargeting platform of the year: Google AdWords, AdRoll, Facebook Adverts and Perfect Audience.

Today, I’m going to explain the difference between each one and hopefully help you find the one that’s right for you.

Google AdWords –The New King 

In 2014, AdRoll was the king of retargeting. Now, it’s Google. Here’s why:

They’ve perfected the art of following people around. Being the biggest search engine on the market has its perks – people use Google for everything.

A retargeting campaign through Google hits all sites and apps in Google’s Display Network, one of the biggest networks out there.

You can retarget people differently depending on which page of your site they were on – so people who viewed that Awesome Thing will receive one retargeting campaign, and those who visited your cart (but didn’t checkout) could receive a different retargeting campaign.

Just be aware of the one website rule… I’ve included it at the bottom of this post so you can take a look.

Their ad types are flexible and customizable. They’ve got text ads, image ads, rich media ads and video ads. This means you can market your brand however you want.

They put Google Analytics to use for your ads. They have every piece of data you could want to use to narrow down your retargeting campaign so that you’re hitting the right people at the right time.

You can even select targets based on which page of your site they’re visiting. That’s what makes it so powerful.

Another great retargeting tool is the ability to target people who have submitted their email for one reason or another – past customers, leads, e-newsletter recipients.

You upload your email or customer lists and create “Similar Audiences” (custom and lookalike audiences)to remarket to – so you can upsell people who bought a product, or advertise to leads.

And, since you can target people who are already in your audience, it has the least compliance issues. Google doesn’t hit them with the ad out of the blue – the ads are shown only to people who have visited your site and are still on Google’s Display Network.


Not a lot has changed with AdRoll since the first review.

They’re still one of the better known retargeting providers.

They can still advertise on Facebook and other social networks.

They’re still very restrictive. While that keeps their network clean, their rules put a damper on the quality of their service.

For example, in normal retargeting, you cookie everyone on your website and serve them ads about your different product line.

The way AdRoll does it, if you’re retargeting people for the Awesome Thing, you can’t retarget them for a different product, like That Other Thing. It’s not allowed. Well, you can, but you have to get creative with it.

Since I still don’t like rules, this has turned me off of AdRoll.

But, for people who like having help close by, they’re a good service. Their “experts” are on hand to help out, if you get stuck in your retargeting campaign creation.

Also, while they don’t have the same lookalike campaign function as Google (and other platforms), they do have a feature called CRM data onboarding, that allows you to upload your customer email list (past and present) so that you can retarget them.

So, in conclusion, AdRoll is still very good. They’re still very popular and reputable. But they’re still not quite that great at aggressive marketing.

Facebook Adverts

Google, AdRoll and PerfectAudience are great for retargeting outside of Facebook  but  when it comes to Zuckerberg’s creation, using the social media platform’s  retargeting  ads is the way to go.

As an ad network, they do have some of the best options. You can retarget to the newsfeed or you can post ads to the sidebar or they can be an Instagram. You can set your retargeting so it’s only picking people from certain pages.

If you have multiple products, you can retarget people differently who landed on different pages of your site. Facebook and Google are the only two companies that do this.

Facebook gives you lots of options and control over who sees your retargeting campaign. Setting it up through the social media platform’s backend creates a stronger campaign than if you were to use a third-party retargeting software.

Why, you may ask? Well, that’s because Facebook doesn’t give third-party software as many options.

If you try to use AdRoll, for example, they’re connecting to Facebook through Facebook Exchange, an API connection (backdoor) that doesn’t include all the options you would have with Facebook’s Power Editor – different bidding selections, bidding types and placements.

Everything you can do natively in Facebook’s Power Editor, you won’t be able to do with a third-party retargeting software.

Like Google’s Similar Audiences, Facebook allows you to create Custom Audiences by uploading emails from customers and leads.

Fact of life: everyone is on Facebook. It’s true for the personal and for business. Because you have to use it, it’s probably best to retarget through the platform where you get the most options.

Fact of life: everyone is on Facebook for personal and for business means. Because you have to use it, it’s probably best to retarget through the platform where you get the most options.

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Congratulations Zuck, you win.

 Perfect Audience

A clone of AdRoll. Still. Well, sort of.

At least they changed their website so they at least look different now.

A smaller company, they do have their own unique features in comparison to the others – different ways of pixeling and tracking that make them useful.

They give you a little bit more control over where you can place your pixels and where you can’t.

User interface is easy to use. The quality of traffic is the same as AdRoll (even though AdRoll is a larger company).

They can advertise inside Facebook. Though, like AdRoll and really any third-party retargeting platform, you will have different guidelines and more restrictions on ad types.

The rules have changed – but they’re still less restrictive than AdRoll.

They still have the flexibility to use your preferred code – javascript with the full bells and whistles, or HTML. That flexibility is always valuable.

And, like AdRoll, if you run into issues, you can contact their support team and get help from an actual person.

Honorable Mention: Twitter

Yes, Twitter still exists. Whether people think it’s successful or not, they still have 100s of millions of users.

For some markets, it’s still good for some markets: author market, the celebrity market, gaming market and B2B markets, for example.

It’s extremely similar to Facebook in that they have their own version of retargeting specifically for their platform.

Like Google and Facebook, you can upload email lists from customers or leads to create what Twitter calls Tailored Audiences – which are the exact same concept as the Similar Audiences and Custom Audiences of the other two sites.

So, if you want to have the most powerful retargeting Twitter campaign possible, you should set up your retargeting campaign on their platform directly instead of using a third-party retargeting provider.

Want Hands-Off Retargeting?

If you’re not a DIYer, there are managed marketing networks out there that you can use. Take a look at these guys:

Be ready, though – if you use one of these companies, you’ll need at least a $25,000/month Ad Budget.

The One Website Rule

We’re not lawyers, we’re marketers. This is how we understand the retargeting law:

You can’t drop a cookie on and then send them a message about – that’s technically illegal.

I don’t think cops are going to show up at anybody’s house. But it’s part of privacy laws.

In your privacy policy, you need to tell people you’re placing these retargeting cookies on them, and if you’re dropping a cookie on someone under one domain name, you’re not legally allowed to advertise other domain names to that retargeting cookie.


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