The Dark Side Of Remarketing

When Google introduced Remarketing back in 2010 it offered advertisers an exciting new way to “follow” those pesky non-converting visitors around and offer increasingly enticing offers to make the sale. Advertisers took the opportunity and have been fine-tuning their remarketing efforts over the last few years. But there was a darker side to remarketing.

images-2The Dark Side of Remarketing

The most common word I heard from the average internet user was “creepy”. They were seeing ads for a product they’d viewed on other sites. It was like they “knew” what they’d been doing on the other site. As you might imagine, uneasiness is not good for building trust. But this is only the tip of the iceberg.

Privacy is an even bigger issue with remarketing. Google has a very detailed set of policies on how remarketing lists may be created, how they can be used, and even the way ads can be written for remarketing audiences. There are numerous “sensitive categories” and you can read a great explanation of each at PPC Hero, but I’ll focus on the bigger issue. Namely, that what you look at online can “tell” a website things about yourself that you don’t necessarily want them to know.

For example, say that you’re a financial website and someone visits a page that explains how to start filing for bankruptcy and you want to create a remarketing list for that page so you can advertise for bankruptcy lawyers. Don’t mention in the ads that you believe they’re currently considering bankruptcy. That’s a violation and we’ve started to see more and more enforcement of these policies. User beware!

Lastly, and potentially most troubling, is that remarketing is training web users to wait for a discount. Put yourselves in their shoes for a second:

  • You find a product on a website, put it in your cart, and then leave the site
  • As you’re browsing later you see ads for the same product, but now the price has been reduced or you’re given some type of offer
  • You go back and buy the product for a discount
  • Repeat

This is not the kind of behavior you want to encourage, yet that’s exactly what many remarketing offers do. So what should you do?

LukeSkywalkerResisting the Lure of the Dark Side

  1. Use frequency capping to reduce the “creepiness” factor
  2. Follow remarketing policies strictly (if in doubt, DON’T)
  3. Avoid consistent, predictable discounting