PPC: Are Retargeting and Remarketing the Same Thing?

PPC: Are Retargeting and Remarketing the Same Thing?

Retargeting and remarketing are terms which are used quite often in the conversations we have with our clients – we are PPC specialists Manchester after all. However, not everyone is clear as to what these words mean, and what the differences between them are – and this is really important stuff to know.

Retargeting and remarketing are very similar terms, so it is no wonder many people get them confused. In fact, they even have similar goals! But this is where the similarity ends. Their strategies differ wildly, as do the audience you are able to reach. So, here’s what you need to know.

As a pay per click agency Manchester, we spend a lot of time obsessing over numbers and testing audiences. Our aim, at the end of the day, is to get as many people as possible who click on our ad to convert into paying customers.

PPC is great at driving traffic to the site when done right, but it is really tricky to get these numbers to actually translate into sales. And even harder to get people to convert into customers when they are landing on your website for the very first time.

In fact, the best way to win over people and convince them to become customers starts with targeting those people who have visited your site at least once in the past – which is where remarketing and retargeting come in. Remarketing and retargeting are both strategies that offer you the opportunity to reach those customers that already know about you but haven’t bought yet.

So, what’s the difference?

What is Remarketing?

Remarketing is about engaging with potential customers through the use of emails and moving them further down the path to purchase – although it can happen in PPC as well.

Typical examples of remarketing include emailing a customer to upsell them an accessory or tempt them into renewing a service with you. So, remarketing usually takes the form of a reminder, triggered by something in the customer’s previous purchase history. 

What is Retargeting?

Retargeting has multiple approaches, but most often refers to the placing of an online advert targeting users who have interacted with your website in a particular way – without actually buying anything.

You will have seen retargeting ads in your own browser – as many sites use cookies to allow them to do that. Facebook and Google Display Network use these cookies to show your advert on other sites that the user visits.

Retargeting tends to be classed in two ways:

  • On-Site Interactions – targeting individuals who have already visited your website, but have not completed the sale.
  • Off-site Interactions – Retargeting is no longer confined to actions that users take on your website, however, it can now be based on how the customer interacts with your brand on social media.

Remarketing vs Retargeting

As you can see from the above explanation, the line between remarketing and retargeting is becoming increasingly blurred. In the past, email was one task, and pay per click retargeting was limited to data gleaned from how the customer interacted with the website.

However, the line between these two tasks has become increasingly blurred in recent years, with platforms such as Google Ads and Facebook which added the capability to target the platform using email lists a long time ago – so email no longer exists as a separate entity from paid media.


The differences and overlap between remarketing and retargeting are becoming less and less clear as the years pass by. But isn’t this the case for digital marketing in general?

The one shared goal hasn’t changed though – we want to increase conversions. The only thing that has changed is the strategy we use to go achieve this.

Remarketing focuses on email campaigns and reaching out to those who have already interacted with you, with personalised offers. Retargeting focuses on paid ads targeting a broader range of individuals.

If you’d like to talk more about remarketing and retargeting, and figure out the blend of both that will benefit your business the most, reach out to the SEO MCR PPC management team at hello@seomcr.com

About the author

Simon is best know for Co-Founding AccommodationforStudents.com, a portal for student accommodation which attracts over 2 million visitors a year. Simon has 17 years online digital marketing experience and has widespread knowledge of building and/or optimising websites in most industries.

Leave a Reply