Wednesday, July 11, 2018

Retargeting 101

This post was originally posted in July 2009. I am updating it again as this is a topic that I get asked a lot lately and I have also recently launched a new course on the topic. In the course I cover Retargeting Fundamentals and how to do retargting on Facebook. (purchase course on Udemy or on Global Analytics Academy) and will be releasing the one on Google soon.

According to Wikipedia
Behavioral retargeting (also known as behavioral search retargeting, or simply, retargeting ) is a form of online targeted advertising by which online advertising is delivered to consumers based on previous Internet actions that did not in the past result in a conversion.

How does it work?

You visit a site, look at some products, maybe add some of the products to the shopping cart but then decide not to buy them because you need some more time to think about it. You close your browser and are done for the day. Next morning you go back to your computer and browse to a news site. As the page of that site loads so does an Ad that is from the site that you visited yesterday (where you looked at some products but did not buy)


Neel visited Sketcher’s site (They engage in retargeting - He looked at few shoes, added one to his cart but then decided that he is going to look some more before he buys them. He was tired after long day so he decided to logoff from his computer and takes some rest.

Few minutes later he gets back on his computer but before he goes and checks more shoes, an article about online privacy in an email catches his eyes so he clicks on the link to open the webpage to read that article. As he browses to that article on, he sees an ad from sketchers on that same page. The page content has nothing to do with the shoes but the person reading it has. Sketchers is retargeting to bring back the visitor who had left the site ( without converting (purchasing). The main idea behind retargeting is to reinforce the brand message and bring the visitors back to the site so that visitor can convert and become customers.

Shopping at

NYTimes Serves Sketchers Ad

How does it work technically?

When a visitor visits a site (sketchers in this case), the site ( runs a JavaScript from a 3rd party ad network or an ad exchange, which (the JavaScript)then drops a cookie on the visitor’s computer. This cookie is usually anonymous i.e. it contains an identifiers to identify the visitor (computer) but does not know any personally identifiable information such as name, phone, email etc. of the visitor. As the visitor browses the site this JavaScript can collect the information about visitors browsing behavior and then tie it back to the cookie. All an ad network (3rd party) knows that cookie id 123ABC67NBZ looked at some product, put them in shopping cart and then left without completing the purchase. Most likely, it does not know that cookie id 123ABC67NBZ belongs to Neel (some retargeting products now are tying PII information too but most of them are still anonymous).

If the visitor then browses to another sites on the internet ( in this case) which also has a relationship with that same ad network (the relationship between sites and ad network gets complex but that’s beyond the scope of this post) i.e. this other site also has a JavaScript from that same ad network on their pages then that JavaScript(on a page on can read the previously set cookie to identify the visitor. By reading the cookie, the Ad Network knows who this visitors (computer) is (anonymously) and what sites this visitor (computer) was on, what products he looked at and if he abandoned the shopping cart or not and then serve up an appropriate retargeting ad.

Related Post
Behavioral Targeting 101

Purchase Retargeting course

Need help with Retargeting?  Contact me at

Sunday, June 10, 2018

21 Metrics for Measuring Online Display Advertising

In this post I am listing the 21 metrics to measure the success of your display advertising.  Most of these are also applicable, with some variation, to other forms of advertising such as Paid Search, Social Media Ads, Print and email. I will cover these other channels and mediums in the future posts.

Note: This post was originally posted on 5/18/2014.
On demand by readers, I have converted this post into an eBook that can be downloaded at Global Analytics Academy  - Download eBook at

  1. Impressions – It is the number of times your ad is displayed. The number by itself does not hold much value but it is a metric used to calculate other metrics and KPIs. Keep in mind that an impression does not mean that someone actually saw the ad, it just that the ad was shown on a web page/app.
  2. Reach –This is the number of unique people (generally identified by cookies) that were reached by your ad. This number is always lower than the impressions because your ad is generally shown to same person (cookie) multiple times.
  3. Cost – The total cost of running the ad campaigns.  This is calculated differently by different tools and organizations. Some use actual media cost while other use a fully load number that includes the agency cost, creative cost etc. Whichever number you use, be consistent in your approach. If you are going to do comparisons with CPC models such as Paid Search then I suggest using the actual media cost. Most of the publicly available benchmarks are based on actual media cost and are expressed in CPM (explained later in this list).
  4. Engagement Rate or Interaction Rate– This applies to the Rich Media Ads, where a user can interact with the ad without leaving the Ad unit/widget.  Engagement Rate is the percentage of interactions per impression of the ad unit and is calculated as (Number of Interactions/Total Impressions)*100%.
  5. CPM – This is the cost for 1000 Impressions of the ad unit. Display advertising is generally sold on CPM basis. (For more information on CPM, see  Cost of Advertising: CPM, CPC and eCPM Demystified).
  6. Clicks – Number of clicks on an ad unit that lead to a person leaving the ad unit.  Keep in mind that a click does not mean that a person landed on the intended destination of the banner ad click. There are multiple factors that could lead to a click but not a visit to the destination (I won’t cover those here but am happy to discuss over email or a call).
  7. CTR (Click though rate) – It is the number of Clicks generated per impression of a banner ad. This number is expressed as a percentage. CTR = (click/impressions)*100%
  8. CPC – Cost per Clicks is the cost that you pay for each click.  Generally, display advertising is sold by CMP (see above), you can easily convert the cost in to Cost Per Click to compare it against other channels such as paid search. Cost per click is the effective amount you paid to get a click.  It is calculated by dividing the cost with number of clicks.  CPC = Cost/Clicks. Sometime this number is also referred as eCPC (effective Cost per Click).
  9. Visits – As stated above in the definition of clicks, not every click turns into a person landing on your destination (generally your website). Visits measures the clicks that did end up on your site.  (For more definition of visits, please see Page Views, Visitors, Visits and Hits Demystified)
  10. Visitors – Visitors metric goes one step ahead of the visits and calculates the number of people (as identified by cookies) who ended up on your site as a results of the clicks on the banner ads.
  11. Bounce Rate – Is the percentage of visits that left without taking any actions on your site. It is calculated as Number of Visits with one page view /Total number of visits resulting from the display ads. (Bounce Rate Demystified for further explanation).
  12. Engaged Visit Rate – Generally this is opposite of bounce rate (though you can have your own definitions of engagement).  It measure the quality of the visits arriving from your display advertising. You can calculate Engaged Visits as  (100 – Bounce Rate expressed as percentage).
  13. Cost/Engaged Visit – This is effective cost of each engaged visits. It is calculated as total Cost divided by number of engaged visits.
  14. Page Views/Visit – Page views the number of pages on your site viewed by each visit. With a lot interactions happening on one single page, this metrics is losing its value. However, for now, it is still a valuable metric for ad supported sites.
  15. Cost/Page View – As above, this is valuable metrics for ad supported site to figure out the cost of generating on extra page view.
  16. Conversions – Conversion is defined as the count of action that you want the visitors to take when they arrive from you display ads. Some examples of conversions are – purchase, signup for newsletter, download a whitepaper, sign up for an event, Lead from completions etc.
  17. Conversion Rate  – This is the percentage of visits that resulted in the desired conversion actions.  Conversion Rate = Total conversions/visits*100. If you have more than one conversion actions then you should do this calculation for each one of the action as well for all the actions combined.  In case of Leads, you can take it one step further and calculate not only the “Leads Generation Rate” (Online Conversion Rate) but also Lead Conversion Rate, which is, Leads that convert to a customer divided by total leads generated.
  18. Cost per Conversion – This is the Total Cost divided by the number of conversions achieved from visits coming via display ads.
  19. Revenue – This is total revenue that is directly attributed to the visits coming from display advertising. It is pretty straightforward to calculate in eCommerce but gets a little tricky when you have offline conversions.
  20. Revenue per Visit   – Shows the direct revenue achieved per visit originating from the display advertising. It is calculated as Revenue Generated from Display Ads divided by the total Visits.
  21. Revenue per Page – This is useful for ad supported business models. This is sometimes expressed as RPM (Revenue per thousand impressions of ads) = (Total Ad Revenue/Number of page views) * 1000
Note: In addition to Clicks, you can also looks at View Through and calculate your other related metrics by view through.  View Through is sum of all the cookies that visited a page that showed your ad on it, and then landed on your site. The assumption, in this calculation, is that you landed on the brands site because of that ad exposure.

 Where can you get these metrics from?
  • Impressions, Reach, Cost, Engagement Rate, Clicks, CTR and CPC data is available from your agency or ad server tool.
  • Visits, Visitors, Page Views, Bounce Rate, Engaged Visit Rate, Conversion, and Conversion Rate are available in your Web Analytics tool.
  • Revenue is available in either your Web Analytics tool or other offline sales database.
  • Cost/Conversion, Cost/Engaged Visits, Cost/Page view and Revenue/page are calculated using data from multiple tools.

Thursday, April 26, 2018

Google Tag Manager (GTM) Training - From Zero to Hero - Online Course and In-Person Workshop

New to Google Tag Manager or struggling with some tag implementation? This course will cover every thing you need to know to start using Google Tag Manager with confidence.

This course, Google Tag Manager (GTM) Training Course - From Zero to Hero is the Highest Rated GTM course on Udemy.

Here are three options for you to take this course
  1. GTM Course on Udemy - Take it online at your own pace - Click here for a coupon
  2. Bundle of Online Courses - Signup for a bundle of my course on Global Analytics Academy - You get GTM course + many more and all new courses I add for one low yearly price.
  3. In-person workshop - I will walk you through step by step. Contact me at to find out in-person classes schedule.

Here is what some of the students are saying:

Ashish Batra - Initially I wasn't sure if I should subscribe to this course or not as I usually buy courses with 100+ reviews. I am glad I purchased it. Anil has done a fantastic job in this course. If you are a technical marketer, you must do it. Previously, I have done some other GTM courses and watched youtube videos. But this course is definitely among more practical courses and added value to my existing knowledge. p.s. Coincidently, I share last name with instructor, but we aren't related :) 
Kate Proyka -  The course is well structured, clear and covers all elements of the tool. There are several examples which can be easily implemented and make sense.
In this course you will learn
  1. Fundamentals of Tag Manger (Applies to any tag manager)
  2. Signing up for Google Tag Manager
  3. Details of Google Tag Manager Interface
  4. How to setup Google Tag Manager for Google Analytics and track page views
  5. How to setup external link tracking as Events in Google Analytics via Google Tag Manager
  6. How to setup Button click tracking in Google Analytics
  7. Track JavaScript errors using GTM
  8. Deploy GTM in Wodpress
  9. Use Data Layer in Google Tag Manager
  10. Watch this description for more examples coming soon.
New tracking examples added based on student demand - if something is not covered, let me know and I will show you how to do it in Google Tag Manager.
Note: You will need basic understanding of HTML and JavaScript to use some advanced tracking using GTM.

Why you should learn from me?

I have been in Digital Marketing and Analytics for over 15 years. I have trained people from diverse backgrounds and have converted them into high performing Digital Marketers and Analysts.  I understand both the technology and marketing side of business.  I have dealt with many analytics technologies way before Google Tag manager existed and know the inner working of Digital Analytics.
In addition, I have developed various course and taught students from all over the world. I am online instructor for University of British Columbia (Canada), University of Washington (USA), Bellevue College (USA) and Digital Analytics Association.
I have an engineering degrees and an MBA.

Here are three options for you to take this course
  1. GTM Course on Udemy - Take it online at your own pace - Click here for a coupon
  2. Bundle of Online Courses - Signup for a bundle of my course on Global Analytics Academy - You get GTM course + many more and all new courses I add for one low yearly price.
  3. In-person workshop - I will walk you through step by step. Contact me at to find out in-person classes schedule.
Don't want to learn Google Tag manager?  Let me and my team help you.  Contact me at

Tuesday, April 10, 2018

Digital Marketing Acronyms and Abbreviations Demystified

Marketing is full of acronyms and abbreviations, it gets confusing even for an experienced marketer to keep track of all these terms. So help you navigate through all these words, I have developed a mini-course that explains what various Digital Marketing Acronyms and Abbreviations mean (the short course cover acronyms and abbreviations starting with A, B and C). In this short course I am covering the following terms
  • A/B testing
  • AOV
  • AI
  • AIM
  • AIDA
  • AOR
  • AOV
  • ATD
  • B2B
  • B2C
  • BR
  • CAC
  • CLV
  • CMS
  • CPA
  • CPC
  • CPL
  • CPM
  • CTR
  • CR
  • CRO
  • CRM
  • CTA
  • CTR
  • CX
Signup for the course at Global Analytics Academy

If you like my style of teaching and want to learn about more terms then signup for the full course, which is available for a discounted price for a limited time.
Sign up for Digital Marketing Acronyms and Abbreviations Demystified

I have various other great course and in the process of adding more. I also develop custom training for organizations and educational institutions. If you are interested in buying a licence for your organization then contact me at

Monday, February 26, 2018

Why your re-targeting is not as effective as could be

According to a latest report by Merkle Inc. advertisers spend 33% of their advertising budget on Retargeting efforts.  That is a huge chunk of the budget!

According to another study, the average Click Through Rate for Display ads is 0.07%, while those for Retargeting is ten times that number i.e. 0.7%, . However, that is still dismal.  Why?  Because of the way most organizations retarget, and obviously, their approach is wrong. 

There are three major types of retargeting processes which companies perform;

  1. Retarget everybody who visited your site.  
  2. Retarget those who did not convert.
  3. Retarget only those who left items in shopping cart.

However, all these approaches still result in very low CTRs and conversions. Of course, they are better than general display ads but still dismal - unless you consider 0.7% as great CTR!

So, what is the problem?

Let’s take the three retargeting scenarios above one by one.

  1. Retarget all your visitors – You are just using spray and pray here.  There is no strategy, no intelligence used.  I have seen this in past, where agencies, on behalf of their clients, use this technique to show how good their targeting is. They do mass display advertising, which produces dismal results and then retarget those who came to the site. Of course you are now going to get better CTR because you are targeting those who have already shown interest.  But the result is still incredibly low.
  2. Retarget those who did not convert – Better than targeting everybody but not much.  You are still targeting those who had no intention to convert. No matter how many times you chase them they just are not interested; you are not selling what they want, and they may have just landed on your site accidentally.  To make matter worse, companies will continue to retarget them to death, and thus tarnishing their brand value. 
  3. Retarget only those who left items in the shopping cart – much better than the first two cases. Now, you are only targeting those who have taken at least some action to show that they were interested, even if they did not convert. However, there are still two problems with this approach;
    1. You don’t know the reason why someone did not convert – most companies will just show the products left in the cart in their retargeting ads.
    2. You are leaving out all those visitors who were willing to convert but did not start the checkout process.

What’s the Solution?

A few years ago, when I started with Retargeting, the approaches I mentioned above were “correct” as they were the only reasonably practical ones to implement.  But now, with new technology available, we don’t need to continue to waste ad impressions and dollars.  Machine Learning can tell us the factors that drive conversion, so we can Retarget in an intelligent manner, using relevant messages sent to visitors who are most likely to convert, and we can avoid chasing (and annoying!) those who have no intention of converting.


Join Global Analytics Academy for Online Courses in Digital, Marketing and Analytics

Thursday, November 30, 2017

A crash course in SQL for Marketers and Marketing Analysts

These days SQL is a must have skill for marketers and marketing analysts. Data is everywhere but access to that data is still a challenge. 

Marketers and Marketing Analysts generally depend on the tools or IT department to help them pull the data for marketing purposes. IT leaves you hanging because they have other priorities as a results Marketing Analysts have to know how to write SQL on their own so that they are not dependent on IT. No SQL means no data and no data means no insights.

This course is for those marketers who would like to know how to use SQL to conduct their marketing analysis.

If you are trying for a job as a Marketing Analysts then this course is a must for you. This will help your resume shine and put you ahead of other similar candidates. The more you can handle technology and data these days the better it differentiates you from the rest of the pack.

The course uses mySQL to show how SQL works but all the leanings and most of the scripts are also applicable to other databases such Microsoft SQL Server and Oracle.

You can get this course for only $10, limited quantity at Get SQL course for only $10 (let me know if the coupon is all sold out). Over 1000 students have already taken this course.

My other courses that are currently available online:
In addition to these courses, I offer customized training for organizations. Contact me for more details.

Monday, October 02, 2017

Career in Web and Digital Analytics – Online Course

I recently developed an online course which provides information on the Career in Digital and Web analytics. The course is a result of the emails that I get from recent graduates and people who are looking to change their career.  This course "Career in Web & Digital Analytics" is currently available on Udemy 

The course covers following area:

  • Introduction to the field
  • Salary Expectation – Industry surveys
  • Various Roles
  • Deep dive into the roles
  • Career progression
  • Education and Skills
  •  Resources for Learning

I will add more content based on the student feedback.  Here are some ideas of content that I will be adding soon (you will have access to the course forever, so any new content will be available to you as soon as I upload it).

  • Who hires – various types of companies
  • What a digital marketer needs to know
  • Step by step guide

Use Coupon Code: ABWA10 or visit this link to get this course for only $10, Get the course for only $10