Improve ROAS with personalized, funnel-based ad retargeting

Marketing Retail Intermediate

Made by Segment

This recipe teaches you how to retarget users across the funnel using Segment Personas and an advertising platform like Google Display & Video 360 (DV360). By creating Personas audiences of high-intent user segments, you can personalize the pre-purchase experience to increase conversions and optimize your ROAS.
What do you need?
  • Analytics.js or mobile source that tracks anonymous_id, ios.idfa, or android.idfa
  • Google Display & Video 360 account
  • An analytics tool, like Amplitude or Mixpanel
  • Segment Personas
Improve ROAS with personalized, funnel-based ad retargeting
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In the first three months following the COVID-19 pandemic outbreak, the US experienced over 10 years of growth in digital commerce. This shift marked a pivotal point for businesses across all industries to deploy more digital-first strategies to meet consumer demands.

Digital consumer brands have historically used programmatic ad retargeting as a key strategy to move anonymous visitors through the purchase funnel. Even so, most retargeting to non-purchasers has been generic due to limited user context.

With an influx of new shoppers participating in e-commerce at a scale never imagined before, businesses have greater opportunities to break from the status quo. By leveraging a customer data platform to manage user engagement at scale, they can develop engagement-driven user segments to create personalized ad experiences—regardless of where the user is on their journey.

Businesses create audience segments in many ways. If your company has an in-house data science team, you might use your Data Lake and ML models to create propensity scores for audience segments. Check out how Shipt did it to learn more.

For a more self-service option, however, you can use this recipe to categorize your funnel and analyze your conversion activity yourself. Empowered with data-driven insights, you can then build high-performing audience segments in Segment Personas and retarget non-purchasers in Google DV360.

Step 1: Configure your customer profile

To get started, first sign up or log in to your Segment workspace.

To enable retargeting in DV360, you’ll need to make sure you’re collecting the right identifiers to sync to the DV360 destination.

  • For web traffic, you’ll need to track anonymous_id using our analytics.js source

  • For mobile traffic, you’ll need to track ios.idfa and/or android.idfa using any of our mobile sources

    • Note: To support privacy-related changes in Apple’s iOS 14 release, Segment’s iOS Source SDK (analytics-ios) no longer automatically collects IDFA in v4 or later versions. To collect ios.idfa, you can manually pass the IDFA to the Segment SDK by following these steps in our iOS documentation.

From there, Segment’s Identity Resolution feature provides flexibility in enabling users to define the logic behind their unified customer profiles with default or custom identifiers. anonymous_id, ios.idfa and android.idfa are considered default identifiers, but you’ll want to make sure that they’re included in your Identity Resolution settings.

Identity Resolution_Advertising Identifiers

Personas Identity Resolution page with android.idfa, ios.idfa, and anonymous_id

  1. Navigate to Personas in the Segment app.

  2. Click on Settings to reach Identity Resolution.

  3. Confirm that anonymous_id, ios.idfa and android.idfa are listed in your Identity Resolution settings, as needed. If your identifiers are listed, skip the next step.

  4. If you need to add identifiers, toggle the Read-only to Editing.

    1. Click Add Identifier and select Default Identifier.

    2. Select the identifiers you need to add and select Continue.

Step 2: Set up your destinations

For this recipe, you’ll need to set up two destinations: an analytics tool and an advertising platform.

First, set up your analytics tool:

  1. From the Segment app, navigate to Catalog and select Destinations.

  2. Search for your analytics tool of choice, like Amplitude or Mixpanel.

  3. Select your tool, click Configure, and confirm the Source (like your analytics.js and/or mobile sources) to connect to.

  4. Complete the configuration settings based on the tools’ requirements. 

Second, set up your advertising tool. For its ability to retarget on anonymous users, we’ll be using Google Display & Video 360 (DV360) as our advertising destination. With Segment and DV360, you can break out of generic programmatic advertising and convert non-purchasers to maximize your ROAS.

To set up a DV360 integration, follow these steps:

  1. Grant Segment access to your DV360 account through your Google account representative. Use our email template here to get started.

  2. For web traffic, connect the DoubleClick Floodlight integration with your analytics.js source by following the instructions here.

  3. Then, navigate to Personas in the Segment app and click Destinations.

  4. Click Add Destination, and search for Personas Display & Video 360 to configure.

  5. Select the Personas Space you want to connect to the destination.

  6. Complete the configuration settings based on the tools’ requirements. 

  7. Switch the toggle to enable the destination.

Step 3: Categorize your funnel

The first step to personalizing your advertising to anonymous users is mapping out your funnel to identify their purchase stage. From there, you can create funnel-based advertising campaigns to continue moving non-converting users through the funnel.

Funnel_eCommerce_DV360 Recipe

Based on your purchase funnel, you will need to track certain track or page calls in Segment.

  • Awareness — page visits by type, like category, brand, resource, etc.

  • Interest — page visits by type, like category, brand, resource, etc.

  • Consideration Product Viewed event

  • Intent — Product Added and Cart Viewed events

  • Evaluation Checkout Started, Checkout Step Viewed, Checkout Step Completed events

  • Sale Order Completed event with properties like product, category, or other properties

Once you’ve identified the right events and properties to track, you can use your analytics tools to further analyze and optimize your funnel. 

Step 4: Identify high-intent audience segments

Generic funnel-based segments are a great start to creating personalized ad campaigns. To take your retargeting to the next level, you can personalize even further by digging deeper into user behavior, such as product categories, brands, and other properties viewed.

However, you’ll want to optimize your retargeting segment for intent and reach. In other words, you don’t want to make your segment so granular that it’s not worth your time, but you also want to aim for a high conversion rate to purchase.

By analyzing purchaser activity, you can identify segments for which more personalized ad campaigns and spend are warranted. For example, you may uncover that a first-time purchaser typically visits the site three times before making a purchase, and that your jackets category is the highest converting category from ads. In this case, you’ll want to create a dedicated segment to retarget non-purchasers that have visited the site twice and viewed a product in the jacket category.

Using your analytics tool of choice, you can start by answering the following questions:

  • Where are users coming from (search, email, social link, referring websites)?

  • How many times does the average user visit the site before making a first purchase

  • How many products does a user view before making a first purchase?

  • Where are users going on the site, and what pages do they visit most often?

  • What products are converting the highest? Category? Brand?

Once you’ve identified additional high-intent traits, you can create funnel-based and high-intent audiences in Segment Personas.

Step 5: Create custom audiences for retargeting in Personas

With Personas, you can unify your customers' touch points across every platform and channel to understand the customer journey and build real-time audiences based on user engagement. These are just some example funnel-based audiences that you could create based on user behavior and engagement.

Audience Builder_Cart Abandon_DV360 Recipe

Example of Consideration - Jacket Product Viewed audience in Segment Personas

  • Awareness - Visitor

    • All users who performed Product Viewed at most 0 times in the last 14 days, 

    • and who performed Page Viewed at least 3 times in the last 14 days, 

    • and who performed Order Completed at most 0 times in the last 14 days.

  • Interest - General Category Page: 

    • All users who performed Product Viewed at most 0 times in the last 14 days,

    • and who performed Page Viewed at least 1 time where `category` exists,

    • and who performed Order Completed at most 0 times in the last 14 days.

  • Interest - Jacket Category Page: 

    • All users who performed Product Viewed at most 0 times in the last 14 days,

    • and who performed Page Viewed at least 1 time where category equals jackets in the last 14 days,

    • and who performed Order Completed at most 0 times in the last 14 days.

  • Consideration - Product Viewed:

    • All users who performed Product Viewed at least 1 time in the last 14 days,

    • and who performed Product Added at most 0 times in the last 14 days,

    • and who performed Order Completed at most 0 times in the last 14 days.

  • Consideration - Jacket Product Viewed:

    • All users who performed Product Viewed at least 1 time category equals jackets in the last 14 days,

    • and who performed Product Added at most 0 times in the last 14 days,

    • and who performed Order Completed at most 0 times in the last 14 days.

  • Intent - Cart Abandoned: 

    • All users who performed Product Added at least 1 time in the last 14 days,

    • or who performed Cart Viewed at least 1 time in the last 14 days,

    • and who performed Checkout Started at most 0 times in the last 14 days.

    • and who performed Order Completed at most 0 times in the last 14 days.

  • Evaluation - Checkout Started:

    • All users who performed Checkout Started at least 1 time in the last 14 days,

    • and who performed Order Completed at most 0 times in the last 14 days.

To create an audience in Segment Personas, follow these steps for every audience segment:

  1. From your Segment dashboard, click Personas in the left navigation.

  2. Select Audiences, and then click the New Audience button.

  3. Enter the conditions for each audience you’d like to activate on.

  4. Click Preview to see if things look correct. 

  5. Click Select Destination and select the Personas Display & Video 360 destination.

  6. Name your audience and click Create Audience. We recommend you disable the historical backfill option here.

Note: Make sure you check “Include anonymous users” on this page. This way, you can retarget ads to users that may not have shared an email or other identifier during their session.

Once you’ve completed creating and sending your audiences to DV360 through Segment, you should be able to see your audiences in DV360 in 24-48 hours (if this is your first time syncing an audience to DV360). Following the first sync, Segment Personas will update the audience on an hourly basis.

Step 6: Verify Google audiences

To verify that the Personas audience has been created in Google DV360, log in to your Display & Video 360 account and select All Audiences from the left-hand navigation.

Google DV360_Audience List_Recipe

Once you’ve confirmed your audience in Google DV360, you’re all set to create your personalized campaigns. For example, you can create a jacket-specific ad campaign to your Interest - Jacket Category Page audience to drive first-time purchases of jackets.

Based on your insights from your purchaser analysis, you can continue to identify high-intent, non-purchaser segments to run personalized retargeting campaigns at scale. 

Wrapping up

Here’s what we’ve done in this recipe:

  • Configured our identity rules to include essential advertising identifiers for retargeting

  • Connected our web and mobile sources to Google Display & Video 360

  • Mapped our funnel to identify key user activities by purchase stage

  • Analyzed funnel segments to identify high-intent, pre-purchase activity

  • Built custom audiences for ad retargeting by purchase stage and high-intent traits

That’s it! You can now identify high-intent segments and retarget those users—no matter where they are on the purchase journey—to optimize your ad spend and drive acquisition.