January 31, 2008, 12:00 AM

Through retargeting, Hobby-Lobby wins back visitors who abandon its site

Hobby-Lobby, a multi-channel retailer of radio-controlled model airplanes, is boosting sales among visitors who abandon its web site by retargeting them on subsequent sites they visit with ads based on their past click activity on Hobby-Lobby.com.

Hobby-Lobby International Inc., a multi-channel retailer of radio-controlled model airplanes, is boosting sales among visitors who abandon its web site by retargeting them on subsequent sites they visit with ads based on their click activity on Hobby-Lobby.com, CEO Jay Graves tells InternetRetailer.com.

“Retargeting gives us a chance to put ad impressions before people who already know who we are,” Graves says. A test of the retargeting ad program, which is based on a behavioral targeting advertising system from FetchBack Inc., showed a 20% increase in sales among consumers who were included in the retargeting ad program compared to control group that did not receive the ads, Graves says.

“It’s a nice lift,” he adds. “We can justify the return on investment.”

Brentwood, TN-based Hobby-Lobby (no relation to an Oklahoma City arts and crafts retailer named Hobby Lobby) went live with the FetchBack system before the 2007 holiday shopping season and has found it to be more effective than other forms of marketing, Graves says. Because Hobby-Lobby serves an extremely narrow niche of consumers-mostly male senior citizens with an interest in purchasing radio-controlled model airplanes and helicopters-other types of advertising, including mass market banner ads, have produced poor results. “Blanket ads don’t work for us,” he says.

But the retargeting ads are proving an effective tool that complements other targeted marketing programs, including paid search and banner ads placed on content sites like RCGroups.com that attract its targeted customer base, Graves adds.

FetchBack, based in Phoenix, maintains a network of informational web sites on which it places banner ads. Software cookies placed on Hobby-Lobby.com enable FetchBack’s network ad servers to recognize when a visitor to one of its content sites has already clicked on products on Hobby-Lobby.com, then serve up pertinent Hobby-Lobby ads while the visitor is still on the networked content site.

Fetchback serves up ads on hundreds of thousands of sites, including social networking sites like MySpace and news content sites like ESPN.com, but it doesn’t serve ads on retailer sites that would compete with its clients, a spokeswoman says. She adds that FetchBack clients cannot control the content sites on which their ads will appear.

FetchBack, which was launched in February 2007, operates with financial backing from Gersh Venture Partners. Additional private investors include Geoff Judge, co-founder 24/7 Media, who sits on the FetchBack board of directors, and veteran e-business investors Erik Matlick, Stephan Paternot, Bob Ellis and Jeff Stewart.

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