Retargeting is a blessing for advertisers and a curse for data protection. For years, we observed an increase in the advertising market of so-called retargeting advertising.
The easiest way to explain re-targeting is to use the well known websites eBay and Amazon. Basically if you search both of them for a book on “lie detection”, you may find a few and have a look, but they may get distracted by a DVD that helps you detect lies. You may buy one or neither, or simply stop surfing. You will notice that when you next go to eBay or Amazon, you will see little ad’s for stuff that you looked at last time. This reminds you that you were looking to buy a certain thing, and (kind of) asks you if you still want it. They will also show adverts for similar products too. In the case of Play.com they will say, “if you liked this then you will love that!”. They will even have offers that go with combining purchases of frequently “bought together” items. That is the process of retargeting. It shows you what you want (even if you bought it already - in some cases) and shows you what you might want based on your browsing behavior.
If one believes current statistics, then the marketing business is actually seeing profit from this type of re-targeting. Looking at different target groups, we come to the conclusion that personalized advertising really matters. The click rates are much higher compared with conventional banner ads.
Since advertising on websites is still a red flag for many users, it is now perhaps clear why the advertising industry relies so much on re-targeting. It allows you to advertise much closer to the mentality of the individual customer. The success of a re-targeting campaign is also (with the help of certain tools) is clearly measurable.
There are three points that I should add to this:
Point 1 - Customers are more likely to buy via re-targeting, from websites that they trust. Picking up on the eBay example again, let’s say I have bought books from eBay previously, and now am looking for details on solar powered battery chargers, and whilst browsing a website, I see an advert for a cheap charger on eBay. I am more likely to respond to that advert, than a retargeted one from another website (even though both adverts are equally targeted and relevant).
Point 2 - Multiple users on a PC will distort re-targeting. So if my sister searches for panty liners, and then I (as a male) search for “blood soaked pc games”, I will not respond to a panty liner advert (even if they both involve the keyword “blood” or “soaked”).
Point 3 - Clever web surfers will delete their cookies regularly, because it can slow down your PC. Also, there are web security programs such as Norton Antivirus that will quarantine cookies with as little as a quick scan.
The search engines will benefit more than any other company, because it increases clicks on their Adwords/ PPC campaigns. Google's main argument is always the anonymity of all data collected. Where will re-targeting go from here? Who knows.
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