Remarketing, retargeting and prospecting, what’s the difference?

Autor: Affilired

In the increasingly important world of Programmatic Advertising, the use of the terms of remarketing, retargeting and prospecting can often generate confusion. This is especially true of the first two, since they are alike, but yet not the same. If you are unsure about using any of these concepts, then don’t worry, this post is designed to explain, in the simplest way possible, what they do, and how they work.

Both remarketing, retargeting and prospecting are used in online marketing to achieve more conversions, they are based upon analysing user behaviour.

Before explaining each one, it is important to emphasize that between remarketing and retargeting there is hardly any difference, basically remarketing covers a wider field than retargeting, since it also includes the different channels in the offline world. Therefore, since we are only concerned with the digital context, we will focus only on retargeting in this post.

What is retargeting?

Without going into technicalities, retargeting is a technique that is used to show ads to those users who have previously visited your website but have moved on without completing the desired action (i.e. sale, lead, download, etc.) the intention is to recapture them and hopefully get them to finally complete the desired action, creating a conversion.

How does it work?

When the user visits your website, a cookie is inserted in his browser. This cookie provides information about the pages and products or services that the user has visited. Thus, after leaving your website, users can be impacted with ads that show the products or services they were interested in while browsing other websites that accept third-party marketing campaigns.


The main objective of retargeting is to improve the conversion ratio through the impact of ads that make the user reconsider their option to the purchase.

It may give the impression that this technique can be somewhat intrusive, but users are very well protected thanks to recent laws regulating these types of campaigns, such as the famous GDPR applicable in Europe.


  • Recaptures lost traffic.
  • Increases the CTR and the conversion ratio, as the user already knows your brand and has already shown an interest in your product or service.
  • Increases ROI.

What is prospecting?

The technique used to search and detect potential customers (called audiences) impacting them with ads that could be of interest to them, it does not require any previous contact with your website.

How does it work?

The key to prospecting is generating audiences, the aim is to impact those users who could possibly be interested in your products or services, different strategies are often used to do this:

  • Contextual Advertising: here your ads appear on those sites with themes related to a group of keywords that you have prepared earlier.
  • Lookalike or similar audiences: this finds new users who are related to your target audience and therefore, have greater conversion potential. You will have to evaluate further if what you are looking for is greater affinity or greater reach.
  • 2nd and 3rd Party Data: users are sought by selecting only those who have previously shown interest or an intention to purchase the services/products you offer.

Example: the audience with an interest in the Caribbean, would be considered as potential users by hotel chains with properties in that destination.


  • Identufy and Capture new potential customers.
  • Increase Brand Awareness.
  • Increase of traffic on your website.

In summary, retargeting or remarketing shows ads to those users who have already had previous contact with your website in order to recapture them, while prospecting shows ads to segmented audiences, who meet a set of requirements you have previously defined, but who have had no previous contact with your website.

When to do retargeting and when to prospect?

We are at a time when the competition is continually increasing, users are becoming less “loyal” to brands. Therefore, it is imperative you plan prospecting campaigns that achieve constant interaction with potential customers with your brand, ideally, you should do this without neglecting your existing retargeting strategies. A combined strategy of prospecting and retargeting is crucial to a successful campaign.

Adriana Arena, Managing Director of Denomatic.