While we tend to think of retargeting as a relatively modern use of technology, a closer look shows that its roots may go back about 3,000 years to ancient Roman times. For those of you who weren’t hanging out at the Coliseum back then, bear with us as we explain this completely non-scientific theory. If you compare the actions of today’s marketers with those of Cupid, the Roman god of desire and attraction, you may be inclined to believe that Cupid was the original retargeter.

In the spirit of the Valentine’s Day shopping season, when consumers will spend more than $13 billion on their sweethearts, here are seven things we can learn from Cupid, the original retargeter, that are applicable to our modern Valentine’s Day marketing campaigns.

1. Cupid carries two kinds of arrows; one has a sharp golden point and the other has a blunt lead tip. Those struck with the golden arrow are overcome with desire while those hit with the lead tip are filled with disdain.

When it comes to digital marketing, ads designed to engage customers are the golden arrows. Ads that lack personalisation, interaction and visual stimulation are the lead tips. As a marketer, you can fill your quiver with golden arrows by focusing on engagement. Not only does engagement have the highest correlation with conversion, but it enables you to know how effectively your campaign influenced purchase behaviour, as opposed to purely measuring a non-conversion KPI, like clicks.

2. Cupid brings the right people together. Applying this to marketing, here are two recommendations to consider when it comes to properly targeting your audience. First, be targeted with your reach – be sure you’re reaching the right people with the right products and messages. Second, be sure to run your campaigns for an extended period of time. Too often, marketers are quick to switch out their ads before they get real traction. You’d be surprised how much higher the return on ad spend (ROAS) is for campaigns that run over a two-to-three month period.

3. A mischievous god, Cupid has been known to strike one party with a golden arrow and another with a lead arrow. This mismatch leads to unrequited love, which can be embarrassing for the love struck who relentlessly pursues his object of desire that spurns his advances.

You may be inadvertently stinging your audience with lead arrows if you haven’t set proper frequency caps. Ideally, you want to create the ideal scenario where your ads appear to the right audience at the right time and promptly end once they make a purchase.

4. In art, Cupid is sometimes depicted as wearing a blindfold to represent how unpredictable love can be.

Though the early days of retargeting may have happened with blindfolds on, this is one way that modern-day retargeting has evolved past cupid. The entire industry is continuously getting more sophisticated in the creation of highly targeted ads and optimisation strategies that address the needs of their target audience.

5. Cupid sets action in motion. Today’s digital marketer is all about setting action in motion. It’s about presenting the most compelling and targeted messages at the right point in the customer journey, whether it’s in-store or online using a smartphone, tablet or laptop. This way, you can move like Cupid with a direct hit on your targets.

6. Cupid inspires excitement and happiness. Everybody gets excited by the idea of being on the receiving end of a golden arrow. When is the last time you ran a retargeting campaign that prompted customers to feel that way?

If you want your target audience to look forward to seeing your display and retargeting ads, follow Cupid’s queues by ensuring your campaigns are the right match for their interests, invoke an emotional response, and inspire interaction without requiring customers leave the page they’re browsing.

7. Cupid casts a wide net as his targets include mere mortals as well as gods.

In our world, this translates to tailoring our marketing approach for today’s border-less shopper – those who are using multiple devices to research a single purchase, asking social media networks for product recommendations, real-time comparison shopping with mobile devices in stores, and even looking for better deals across international borders. With so many ways for consumers to buy, it’s easy to feel like you move both heaven and earth to influence your customers wherever they are.

Yet you don’t have to waste precious resources trying to figure out the customer’s next move if you have a strategic approach to display that includes multi-screen and O2O campaigns, especially if you add international reach and prioritise customer engagement.