Visable 360
The B2B magazine for digital sales
Visable 360
The B2B magazine for digital sales

Retargeting for B2B: advertising without scattering loss

With the use of retargeting, companies can address users who are interested in their product or service in a targeted way.

How does retargeting work?

When it comes to retargeting (“targeting someone again”), Internet users who visit a certain website or who click on a concrete product are addressed along their purchasing journey through the Web by targeted advertising. This is possible thanks to a cookie-based technology which uses a simple JavaScript code to be able to anonymously recognise the Internet user throughout the Web.

There are basically three players in the retargeting game:

1. The advertiser, who would like to broadcast advertising for their website

2. A retargeting service provider, who provides the technology (AdServer) which enables the website to mark the user and recognise them at a later time

3. A publisher, who provides one or several ad spaces. Many publishers today are also the retargeting service provider at the same time.

In terms of technology, retargeting tags the user on the advertiser’s website. To achieve this, it places a cookie on the website in the form of a short code (also known as a pixel). This is not visible to the website’s visitor and cannot hinder the performance of the website. With the use of this cookie, other websites within the publisher’s network can recognise the user and broadcast targeted ads.

Retargeting is worthwhile for broad target groups and when a large enough data set is available. Large enough means a data set of about 100 to 1,000 cookies, and these should not be older than 150 to 560 days. Otherwise, too few or too many users will be targeted, which, in turn, would mean that the campaign would come to nothing or would burn through a lot of money in just a short time.

Note: Please be aware that cookies – and thus pixels – are relevant in terms of the EU GDPR.

The benefits of retargeting

With the use of retargeting, companies can address users in a targeted way – and only those who have already shown interest in a brand, a product or a service. By precisely determining the target group, the click rates and the conversion rates of a campaign can be noticeably increased. The advertising capital is therefore used very efficiently.

Retargeting campaigns for B2B

Particularly in the B2B business, where the decision-making cycle among the target group is often more complex and longer than for B2C, retargeting offers an excellent opportunity to guide the target group during their decision-making process along the entire customer journey – and thus remain present in the minds of potential customers. Generally speaking, the return on investment can be very good.

However – as one may guess – retargeting for B2B follows its own rules. This mainly has to do with the purchasing behaviour of the customers. While purchases are often spontaneous in the B2C segment, this is not at all the case for business customers. They ponder about a decision much more intensively than private individuals. B2B partners are therefore less susceptible to activities aimed first and foremost at gaining attention.

Be convincing

If you choose B2B retargeting, you must understand that this tool frequently has an indirect effect. The researcher is often not the decision-makers, but merely scans the market for the decision-makers. In this case, before the advertiser has the chance to close a deal, the researcher has to first convince their supervisors that the product is the right one.

This happens when the online B2B ads are, on the one hand, in line with the researcher’s search intention. And when, on the other hand, relevant product information is provided which the researcher can use to influence their supervisors in favour of the advertiser.

This works, for instance, with content tailored to the target group’s needs and based on solid information. These can be transported, for example, via blogs, ebooks and white papers. What also makes sense depending on the product: trial versions, explanatory videos or offers for delving deeper into the content on special websites upon making contact.

Avoid scatter loss

It doesn’t make sense to feel spoken to as a private user by retargeting in the B2B segment. To avoid any scatter loss, the advertising message should be precisely formulated. Statements like “Offers for wholesalers” or “For business customers only” clearly show who is being addressed – and who isn’t.

Another way to create a clear distinction is with negative retargeting. It allows advertisers to exclude certain groups from their advertising.

Lower costs per click

B2B customers lead to larger sales volumes than B2C customers and are therefore highly coveted. As a result, the costs per click can be high. To keep these costs as low as possible for each acquisition (read more about this below), retargeting should have a very limited focus – and remain limited.

To achieve this, a combination of good preparation and continuous success monitoring is required. This includes the data-based analysis of customer behaviour using surveys and tools such as Google Analytics. The decisive questions here are: What are the clientele’s needs? Which content leads most to initial contacts? Which strategic options can be derived from the insights gained?

Retargeting and traditional banner advertising: what’s the difference?

But was that not always the case already with banner advertising? No. That’s because traditional banner advertising is not steered toward specific user profiles, based on jobs, interests or demographic parameters – such as age, gender, place of residency. The advantage of retargeting is that users can be addressed in a much more specific way and thus advertising budgets can be leveraged more efficiently.

An example: Women in their late 20s receive, based on their gender and age, traditional banner advertising featuring, perhaps, wedding ads or ads for baby products, even if they have never visited such websites. However, if a woman in the same target group receives advertising for 3D printers after visiting a certain product website for her job, or after viewing the relevant company profile on online marketplaces such as EUROPAGES or wlw, then this is retargeting.

What kinds of retargeting publishers are there?

Once the cookies have been placed for a website visitor, the advertising is then broadcasted. There are various options for this:

Retargeting with display publishers like Google

Very popular among advertisers are so-called display publishers. Companies which work with a display publisher do not have to choose a certain platform themselves, but instead can rely on the fact that the network broadcasts the ads to the right users at the right location. A big display publisher, for instance, is the Google display network. Google has advertising space on most of the relevant websites and can thus reach, according to Google, up to 90 per cent of all Internet users worldwide. Whether purely text-based or elaborately designed ads, the range of the advertising formats is huge.

Retargeting on YouTube

YouTube, too, offers an entire line-up of various video ad formats with which potential customers on YouTube and on the websites of video partners can be addressed in different ways – for instance skippable or non-skippable ads before or during the video. The large range of advertising options caters to every budget and offers a good, individual solution for every product.

Retargeting with Facebook

The broadcasting of ad campaigns on Facebook is also popular. The visitor is tagged on the customer’s website with the Facebook pixel, is then tracked and receives the matching advertising at a later time on Facebook. If the visitor clicks on this advertising, they are directed to the customer’s website where, in best case, a purchase is made.


Particularly in the B2B business, where the decision-making cycle among the target group is often more complex and longer than for B2C, retargeting offers an excellent opportunity to guide the target group during their decision-making process.

What does retargeting cost?

Depending on the retargeting service provider, there are many different price models. An all-round valid statement on the costs of retargeting cannot be made so easily. But generally speaking, retargeting is relatively affordable compared to other measures for winning over new customers.

The invoicing is frequently based on the cost-per-click model, whereby each successful click on the ad costs a pre-defined sum to be paid to the website operator. This method is nearly risk-free, as the advertiser only pays when the interested person actually visits the website.

An example to give you an idea: According to data from the social media management platform Hootsuite, the costs per click (CPC) on Facebook are between about 18 and 27 euro cents. A remarketing ad in the Google network can amount to between 22 and 55 euro cents per click. The prices, however, can vary massively from industry to industry.

Other standard invoicing models are CPO (cost per order), CPM (cost per mille, cost per thousand impressions) or, for YouTube, CPV (cost per view).

Conclusion: why retargeting makes sense for B2B

Retargeting is a helpful tool in the B2B marketing mix. It promises an even higher value than retargeting in the B2C segment, as the targeted persons lead to a significantly higher sales volume. The success, however, requires more effort, since the group being addressed is highly limited and much sought-after.

The reward: well-prepared retargeting for B2B which features the right content and is data-based, significantly simplifying getting in touch with past visitors. This leads to increased awareness and acceptance of one’s own company as a competent partner. If customers have a positive memory of a brand, they are more likely to purchase its products or services, as experience has shown. The result: leads can be reached easier, contacts maintained better, scatter loss avoided and costs per click effectively lowered.

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