Social Media Retargeting Ads Explained

Hero Image

Greetings marketers! The article below, Advanced Social Media Advertising Tactics – Retargeting Website Visitors, is the second entry of our Advanced Social Media Advertising Series. Our goal of this series is to shed light on underutilized social media advertising techniques that marketers and small business can use to generate positive outcomes for their business. If you like what you read, be sure to sign up below to be notified when we post new entries. Happy Reading!



Everyone reading this article has been served a retargeting ad at some point in their online journey. You might have seen them on popular websites you browse or on your social media apps. See if this sounds familiar to you:

You visit a website. You leave the website. You then see an ad from website you just visited.

Alabamians also classify these ads as those ads that follow me around. 🙂

So, why do businesses use retargeting ads? There are many benefits to using them, but focus on the following two stats.

  1. Website visitors who are served retargeted ads are 70% more likely to convert on your website. 2. Only 11% of web users view retargeting ads as negative due to their relevancy.

The goal of this post is to inform you of the many benefits of Facebook and Instagram retargeting ads and how they can generate second-chance opportunities to win new business.


The Facebook Pixel – Where It All Begins

The major component of your Facebook retargeting campaign is the Facebook Pixel. The Facebook Pixel is a small line of website code that collects information of your website visitors. User info such as geography, time on site and pages viewed are collected by the pixel. The information is stored in your Facebook Business Manager account and can be used to create highly targeted audiences for your Facebook and Instagram campaigns.

Note: You MUST have the Facebook Pixel installed on your website in order to serve retargeting ads on Facebook and Instagram. Learn how to install your Facebook Pixel here.


Location of Retargeting Ads

Retargeting ads are displayed in the same spots (placements) as the other ads you see on Facebook and Instagram. For Facebook, you’ll see them in the news feed, usually posts #2 and #8. They can also be found on the right column as well as the audience network. For Instagram, you’ll see them in your post feed.


What Do Social Retargeting Ads Look Like?

Since retargeting ads are displayed in the same placements as regular Facebook and Instagram ads, you have Facebook’s full creative suite available to you. Static, video, carousel, canvas and lead form ads are all available ad types that can be used at your disposal. The word “sponsored” will be displayed within the post, just like the other Facebook ads.


Website Visitor Retargeting Options

Facebook offers a variety of options to build your retargeting audience. When setting up your retargeting ads, here are the types of targeting options that you’ll see.

Anyone who visits your website

Users who visited any page of your website are eligible to receive your ad. This is the loosest form of retargeting available. Brand awareness ads are ideal for this targeting option.

People who visited specific web pages

Now we’re starting to get strict with our targeting. This option allows you to only show ads to users who visit specific pages that you select as qualifiers.

For example, if a bank wants to target users interested in auto loans, they can specifically target users who visit the auto loan page and weed out the users that visit other pages, like the personal checking and mortgage pages.

People visiting specific web pages but not others

This one is perfect for online retailers. This option can be used to recapture customers who have abandoned their carts.

You can set it to where ads can be served to users who reached the checkout page but failed to make their purchase and reach the order completion page. Same goes for campaigns where form fills are the objective. You can set it to where ads will be served to those who reached your conversion page but failed to fill out the contact form and reach the “thank you” page.

Idle Visitors

This option allows you to serve retargeting ads to people who haven’t visited your website for quite some time. Let’s say you have a boutique and held a site-wide sale 3 months ago. You have a new sale coming up and want to serve ads to those who browsed your website during your last sale but haven’t been back since. This type of retargeting will serve ads to those idle visitors to persuade them to revisit your site and spend some cash!


How To Set Up Web Visitor Retargeting Ads

Facebook & Instagram

  1. Install the Facebook Pixel on your website and/or landing pages
  2. Select your Ad Account when logged into Facebook’s Business Manager.
  3. Click on the 3 lines to the left of Ads Manager in the top left corner of your screen, then click “All Tools >”
  4. Click on “Audiences” under Assets,
  5. On the asset library page, click the blue button titled “Create Audience” and select “Custom Audience”
  6. Select “Website Traffic”
  7. Enter your URL and select your targeting options
  8. Name your audience and click “Create Audience”
  9. Once complete, begin creating your new campaign. Once you reach the Ad Set page, you’ll see the option to input your custom audience. You’ll see your retargeting audience. Select your audience, finish building your campaign and let it rip!


Any marketer or business owner who’s currently running social ad campaigns needs to include retargeting ads into their strategy. Whether your goal is brand awareness or to drive conversions, Facebook provides the targeting options you need to position your brand in front of visitors who previously interacted with your website. Remember, users who see a retargeting ad are 70% more likely to convert. Those are strong odds that you shouldn’t pass up. Good luck and happy marketing!


P.S. You may or may not receive a retargeting ad from us after reading this article 🙂

Love Our Articles? Sign up For Our Newsletter.

Hop on our list to be notified when Bell Media publishes a new blog posts by submitting your Name and E-mail below. We promise, no spamming will occur!