In a recent post, I highlighted some strange behavior of retargeting campaigns. One of the more surprising experiences was the way Jeep delivered ads to me following a visit to the jeep.com website. As expected, shortly after my visit to jeep.com, I began seeing ads promoting Jeep’s SUVs. But two things were unusual about these ads. First, the ads were sponsored by a local Jeep dealership (Cherry Hill Jeep), not the national Jeep brand. Second, the ads were served by a company called AdGear, which does not fire retargeting beacons on the jeep.com site.
So how did Cherry Hill Jeep know to target me, and how did AdGear execute the ad buy? While hard to say with certainty, I suspect Jeep is using a data management platform to syndicate audiences for local dealership campaigns. Here’s how audience syndication works:
- Jeep partners with a data management platform to track visitors to jeep.com. Based on tags that load on Jeep’s website, it appears Adobe is integrated as a DMP. When I visited jeep.com, an Adobe beacon loaded on the site and recorded my visit in an Adobe database.
- At any time (before or after my visit to jeep.com), Adobe can perform an ID sync with AdGear. The details behind ID syncing are complex, but the outcome is that Adobe and AdGear share with each other the anonymous ID that each company uses to track my online behavior. (“Hey AdGear, it’s Adobe. The guy you call user ID 1234 is our user ID 6789.”) Once an ID sync is in place, Adobe can send information about my jeep.com visit to AdGear, and AdGear can place me in Jeep’s retargeting pool.
- AdGear can then activate a campaign that targets consumers who (a) recently visited jeep.com and (b) are within driving distance of a particular Jeep dealership. Without any technical integration with the jeep.com website, Cherry Hill Jeep is able to run a retargeting campaign.
Retargeting has been around for a while, and this seems like a complex way to accomplish a relatively simple advertising task. Why not just load the AdGear beacon on jeep.com? Assuming Jeep wants to allow all of its local dealerships to run retargeting campaigns, a traditional approach would quickly overwhelm jeep.com with retargeting beacons. Jeep has 40 dealerships in New Jersey alone. Add another 112 dealerships in New York and 27 in Connecticut, and we’re looking at almost 200 beacons just to cover the tri-state area’s dealerships. Scaling nationally, we quickly hit a point at which jeep.com becomes unusably slow due to the presence of hundreds of retargeting beacons. By adopting a single DMP and then syndicating audiences to each dealership’s preferred media buying partner, Jeep is able to execute local retargeting campaigns while preserving a seamless consumer experience on its national website.