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Retargeting vs. Remarketing: Unraveling the Confusion



Retargeting vs. Remarketing

Retargeting vs. remarketing – what’s the difference? These two terms are often used interchangeably, but they are actually two separate strategies. Retargeting utilizes ads on the open web to encourage the users who visited your site but did not convert to make the conversion while remarketing targets people who engaged your brand in any of your channels and utilizes a wider variety of techniques to do so. In this article, we will explain the difference between these two in more detail. We invite you to read on.

Remarketing vs. Retargeting – The Basics

Before we start our discussion on retargeting vs. remarketing, let’s briefly introduce both of these strategies.

What is Retargeting?

Retargeting primarily focuses on online ad placements to target users who have visited your website or mobile app. It employs cookie-based technology to follow your visitors across the web and display relevant ads based on their past browsing behavior. It is conducted to reengage those users who failed to convert when they initially approached your store.

What are the channels used in retargeting?

  • Display ads on other websites,
  • social media ads,
  • mobile ads.

What is Remarketing?

Remarketing, on the other hand, often refers to re-engaging customers from all across your customer base. It targets individuals who have provided their info by, for instance, creating an account on your website, signing up for a newsletter, or any other first-party means. Unlike retargeting, remarketing employs a plethora of techniques, such as:

  • email campaigns,
  • push notifications,
  • newsletters with targeted content.

Why Is Remarketing vs. Retargeting So Confusing?

Remarketing and retargeting are often used interchangeably due to their similar objectives and overlapping strategies. Both aim to convert potential customers who are already familiar with your brand, leveraging past interactions to tailor their messages. However, the main source of confusion lies in the methods and channels they use to achieve their goals.

While retargeting is predominantly a cookie-based technology that focuses on serving ads across various online platforms, remarketing is more about establishing direct communication with customers and isn’t focused directly on promoting certain product conversions. Additionally, retargeting is much more personalized since it doesn’t rely purely on first-party data. Let’s look at it in more detail.

  • Channels – Retargeting uses online ads as its primary channel, whereas remarketing relies on direct communication through e-mails, notifications, newsletters, or messages.
  • Technology – Retargeting operates on third-party technology to track user behavior across the web. Remarketing works by collecting the data from your platforms – the information that the users give or leave directly in your channels.
  • Objective – Although both aim to increase conversions, retargeting is often used to attract visitors back to a site to complete a transaction, while remarketing is used to promote repeat business and foster long-term customer relationships.


We hope that now you understand remarketing vs. retargeting. While at the surface level, they are similar, there are many differences between them, which you need to be aware of if you want to conduct effective promotional campaigns. Which one is better? Neither – you can conduct both at the same time to get the best results.

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