Recently (August 2010) I was a bit spooked when I found that a particular ad seemed to pop up at several sites that I went to. I was thinking that there must be a real huge online advertising budget in play here. It turns out that there was no big budget but a cookie in my browser which just activated the ad wherever I went on the Google network.Retargeting is “in” and Google AdWords has opened up the feature to the general mass of advertisers after an initial trial.
When you visit a website and click on a product or service – a cookie attaches to your browser – so when you visit one of the network sites – the ad is activated and you see repeats.
This is quite amazing because the entire purpose of media planning in old media is to show ads where prospective customers go. A huge amount of data is collected and analyzed just to understand the differences between the demographic of say NBC evenong news and CBS evening news.Next you develop media plans and ads and hope (with a less than 50% chance) of getting your target audience to just see the ad.
Re-targeting on the Internet means that you repeat the ad to people who have shown definite interest or are “qualified leads”. Imagine if a mall shopkeeper could pass just a few leaflets with a special deal to every window-shopper as they were having a snack at the mall’s food court….Would a larger number of window shoppers return and enter the store – probably…more would buy – sure!
Can it be annoying and an intrusion on consumer privacy? Annoying yes but I suppose it will take more time and debate to answer whether this is an intrusion on privacy. Old media (like TV,Radio,Newspapers, Outdoor Billboards) have really no answer to this kind of retargeting.