You’ve probably noticed them. The same advertisement following you around the web, site after site after site. It gets a bit tiresome doesn’t it.
Chances are, if you see the same ads again and again on the web, it’s not that the company is blowing its way though millions of dollars of venture capital spending it on ads, but rather, that it is is using a smart tactic called remarketing.
Smart for the advertiser, presumably profitable for the ad broker such as Google, but kind of annoying for us. Ads are shown to visitors who are known to have visited the website of the advertiser recently. That sounds like a good idea, but it’s slightly flawed and here’s why.
The objective behind remarketing is to ensure that the brand stays foremost in the mind of the potential customer during the buying decision making process, which may take weeks. Or it can simply be a brand awareness exercise.
However, from the web user’s perspective, the flaw in remarketing campaigns is that the advertisers have no way of knowing what I’m thinking or why I visited a website. Did I visit their pricing page because I was really interested or was that the point at which I decided their product was not a good fit for me. Therefore they may show me ads for products I’ve made a decision NOT to buy. Brands and products I have ticked off the list of potential purchases continue to be shown to me.
Google have managed to insert a Google+ layer over their ads so we can show appreciation for advertised products on their social network ( shouldn’t it be our social network? ) so isn’t it now time to add a “don’t show / won’t buy” button to ads?
Update – 30 September 2012
For the first time I’ve seen the “Mute this ad” button in the top right corner of a remarketed ad.
This is the result.
Problem solved. Thanks Google.
Now about that …