Retargeting: Lead generator or invasive nuisance?

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“How did Facebook know I was thinking of buying this exact pair of shoes from the Zappos website?”

I’m sure by now you know that this is no coincidence.

The product ads that seem to shadow your every online move are part of a revolutionary web-based advertising process called behavioral retargeting. Retargeting is technically simplistic, using a basic Javascript code to follow a website’s viewers to succeeding online locations.

Here’s how it works: every time a new person visits the producer’s site, the Javascript code leaves a browser cookie. Once the cookie is dropped, it will let the seller’s retargeting source know when to display an ad. These targeted ads will only be shown to those who have previously visited the producer’s site.

Retargeting is one of the most effective lead generators and branding techniques available to businesses today, applicable to both B2C and B2B companies. But its proliferated use has made it an object of consumer scrutiny. Though intended by some businesses to enhance consumer experience, retargeting is developing the reputation of somewhat of a cyber-stalker.

Positives

The commercial benefits of retargeting are undeniable. This online advertising process monumentally optimizes conversion by making key brand placements to audiences that have already shown interest in a given product.

Web retargeting is not just theoretically effective, it has the facts to support its efficacy. Website visitors who have been targeted with display ads are 70 percent more likely to convert. Leads are generated on the basis of consumer initiation and locked-in through specific online ad reminders; it’s genius!

In addition to benefitting sellers, retargeting, if properly executed, can also be helpful to consumers. The highly personalized data gathered through the retargeting process can make for an ideal online shopping experience. The ads are tailored to the consumer, based on displayed interest in particular goods or services.

Negatives

Surveillance has been a key topic of discussion in U.S. politics as many citizens feel that they are being unjustly monitored by the NSA, especially in the realm of online activity. With the heightened tension surrounding national security measures, many consumers have not taken to the idea of being tracked, even by advertisers.

It is imperative that sellers refrain from repetitively showing the same ads to people that have already completed the purchase. According to a study by InSkin Media and Rapp Media, 55 percent of consumers are discouraged from purchasing an item they have shown previous interest in if they are retargeted with ads for the item multiple times after initially researching it.

Opt-Out Options

In response to the negative consumer feedback on retargeting, some major participants in the retargeting space are offering users the option to refrain from being targeted by interest-based advertisements. Google, for example, provides users the opportunity to add, remove, and view interest categories for ads. Users are also allowed to opt-out of targeted ads altogether.

Future Direction

Despite some consumer resistance to retargeting, businesses will likely continue to utilize this time-efficient and cost effective lead generating mechanism.

However, as data-gathering practices become more fine-tuned and responsive to consumer criticism, it is possible that retargeting will move towards a cookie-reduced or eventually cookieless approach. Advanced retargeting methods will ideally rely on algorithms created by information gathered through user account activity on devices and frequented sites. Though this type of data-gathering evolution will protect users from feeling followed from site to site, it will actually give sellers more accurate consumer information based on user trends.

If you found this information helpful, click here for more useful retargeting and marketing pro-tips.

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Sandra Donovan

Sandra Donovan

Sandra Donovan is a digital marketer with 15+ years of business-to-business experience with technology-based products and services. She is Director of Marketing at IntelliConnection, a lead generation and marketing automation service that enables businesses to focus on closing sales instead of searching for prospects.
Sandra Donovan

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