If you haven’t been through the experience of searching for a product or service and then being served ads all over the web for the same product or service, then this is probably your first day online. Welcome to the Internet. There’s a lot more than porn here.
Jokes apart. The way marketers currently use cookie- or sign-in-based ad remarketing makes most users feel like they’re being shadowed. Like their every move is being tracked. Like Big Brother is watching.
For those who came in late, remarketing is the act of targeting users who have already visited your website, or clicked on an ad, or searched for a particular product or category, or interacted with you on social media, or downloaded your app.
It initially began as a really smart idea. Someone who’s interacted with you or your business’ category is more likely to be persuaded if you are able to identify them and serve them an ad based on their earlier interaction with you. It sounded like a beautiful blend of digital marketing and CRM.
And then all hell broke loose.
Here’s the greatest prank I ever heard of.
This is exactly how remarketers work. If the user’s shown interest in spoons, let’s give him spoons. Big spoons, little spoons, silver spoons, gold spoons, plastic spoons, dessert spoons, soup spoons…
Here are some reasons why this kind of remarketing doesn’t work.
- It’s as close to online stalking as you can legally get.
- The user might have actually already bought the spoons, in which case the ad impression was wasted.
- The user may have had only a fleeting interest in the product or category.
So how do you make remarketing more effective?
By making it useful to your users.
Here’s one way to do that.
Suppose you let your user pick what they’re interested in. You store that information – either through a signed-in profile or a cookie or both – on that user’s browser. And then target them with ads focused on those interest categories.
At any point of time, the user can update their interest categories, making sure they’re always being served fresh, relevant ads. They can also – in the interest of privacy – choose to opt-out of this programme.
In a sense, you’re getting your users to optimise your advertising for you. And increasing your relevance to them; and, hopefully, brand equity.