Money & Business

Flipping the Switch on Ad Retargeting Can Generate More Money

By / Mar 6, 2019 (Olivier Le Moal/iStock/Getty Images Plus)

Associations often use ad retargeting to encourage people to register for their events or buy other products. But they can also consider another tactic to boost nondues revenue: selling retargeted ads to outside vendors.

In the digital marketing space, ad retargeting is often touted as a way to boost the effectiveness of pay-per-click advertising.

For the unfamiliar, ad retargeting works like this: the advertiser places a piece of code (usually a cookie) on a user’s computer. Now, when the user visits other sites, the advertiser can show that same ad on those sites. This makes the ad more effective because the user will see it multiple times on multiple sites.

You’ve likely experienced retargeted ads yourself. Say you were shopping for something on Amazon, and later, when you were browsing your Facebook feed, you saw an ad for the same thing you’d just viewed on Amazon. Yeah, that’s retargeting.

Associations generally use ad retargeting to encourage people to register for conferences, classes, and certification programs. However, in addition to using it to promote their own products and services, associations can sell retargeted ad space to outside companies to boost nondues revenue.

“The same way [retargeted advertising] is valuable to the associations, it’s valuable to the advertisers,” said Jim Blakey, partner for association and advertiser relations at Association Media Group. “A lot of the big associations are already doing it. A lot of the more midsized associations are starting to wake up to that fact.”

So, how much can extra cash can associations pull in? Well, that depends on how much advertisers are interested in reaching their members. “It is scary to put numbers out there,” Blakey said. “If they already have a lot of existing advertisers, there is a strong chance this would be a meaningful six figure revenue source.”

While web traffic will matter, Blakey said the best way to figure out how effective this will be is to look at other ways that advertisers are trying to reach members. “Sometimes people get the wrong impression, that this is the way to generate a bunch of revenue because none of my other stuff is working,” he said. “That’s not going to work. It’s an extension of all the other stuff that is working for an association.”

Associations with strong web traffic and advertiser interest could do well. “You’re looking at what could be $300,000 a year,” Blakey said. For an association with less interest, the revenue bump would be smaller. “On the lower end, it could be a $10,000 boost. Or it could be zero. It really depends on the association.”

Is Your Association Positioned to Sell These Ads?

Selling retargeted ads works best for associations already using retargeted ads to promote their products. “It’s fairly simple to start selling campaigns to advertisers,” Blakey said. “Instead of running your own campaign, you’re running someone else’s.”

Any associations considering retargeted ads should ask themselves a couple of questions before diving in. “Do they have a sales staff that can sell digital advertising?” Blakey said. “If they do, then the next question would be, do they have the expertise to share best practices with advertisers and guide them? If the answer is yes to both questions, look at the ad retargeting service.”

If you’ve only got one part of the equation, don’t worry. “If they don’t have that expertise but do have the staff, they can look at someone who can facilitate the fulfillment,” Blakey said, noting there are companies that associations can hire to work with them on this.

While mostly midsize to large associations are doing this, small associations shouldn’t necessarily ignore it. Blakey said a small association with a membership coveted by advertisers could do well. “There are some associations, maybe a surgical society, and they only have 800 members, but those members are in high demand for advertisers,” Blakey said. “It really depends on the purchasing power [of the members] and how hard they are to locate.”

Whether an association sells retargeted ads or not, they should all be using them, according to Blakey. “Generally speaking,” he said, “you want to start with the expectation that it provides you the ability to promote to your own members, but you can turn it into revenue generating at the flip of a switch.”

So, what are you doing in the retargeted ad space? Tell us about your experiences in the comments.

Rasheeda Childress

Rasheeda Childress is an associate editor at Associations Now. She covers money and business. Email her with story ideas or news tips. More »

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