Retargeters: The Truth Is Out - We All Hate You

So it isn't just me. I thought it couldn't be, and it turns out is isn't.

A new research study out from InSkin Media and RAPP Media tells marketers all they need to know about retargeting. Namely, that people can't stand it.

Seeing an advert for something you have recently been looking at and have navigated away from must be one of the most annoying parts of the modern Web. According to those surveyed, the feeling of repeatedly being retargeted with "relevant" creative is just plain annoying the first five times it happens. As you reach ten repeats, the feeling boils over into anger.

Just as interesting, only a small percentage of the people surveyed reveal that they find retargeting useful or clever, compared to the vast majority that simply find it annoying -- or after a while, downright angry.

The thing is, e-commerce operators are far more likely to look at the small percentage who don't get angry as the target market and ignore the overwhelming response because an uplift of, say, anything approaching one percent is a very big deal for a site.

I recently vented my feelings at the OMMA London Audience Buying event run by MediaPost, when I pointed out to a retargeter that they were the Grinch who stole Christmas. The minute you go on a shared family computer ahead of Christmas, you find out within a few seconds what your nearest and dearest have been researching as the big day of giving approaches. 

To me, it's a privacy issue that I have no control over during a normal surfing session. If I be really bothered I could review my Facebook settings and maybe make sure I am logged out of Gmail to ensure that I am less trackable to data collectors. I can turn tracking off on my iPhone too. When it comes to retargeting, however, I'm helpless. Could I choose to refuse cookies on some sites? Probably not. Has anyone ever seen a cookie warning that simply isn't there to be accepted? There is never an option to carry on without being cookied?

Don't get me wrong -- I've got nothing against cookies serving up relevant, related adverts, but when advertising just shows you and other people using your computer what you have already looked at (and may have bought), then it's a step too far. It doesn't help. It just annoys and it ruins surprises with no clear opt-out offering. In fact, you never get a warning that a brand or retailer is using retargeting, so you really are helpless.

The options are to either regularly remove cookies or browse "incognito." Neither are great options. One takes a conscious effort, and the other means you don't get the benefit of first-party cookies remembering you, and so all those passwords you'd half forgotten about have to be remembered and typed in.

To save us the bother, it would be really refreshing if marketers actually listened to common sense. Failing that, they could look at the research I'm referring to and then engage some common sense.

The alternative is that people will increasingly begin to delete cookies and browse "incognito," and valuable data that could be put to good use, in an non-annoying way, will be lost. 

If marketers keep annoying so many people so much of the time, they really will not have much of an alternative.

1 comment about "Retargeters: The Truth Is Out - We All Hate You".
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  1. Alan Coon from Review HELPER, October 27, 2014 at 10:35 p.m.

    I'm a marketer and there's nothing on the web I loathe more than remarketing. Isn't "context" supposed to be part of "relevancy"? Yet the same F*ing ad for a web hosting company intends to follow me around the rest of my life, as I spend time on gardening sites, clothing sites, nature photography sites, etc. In the print world you're not going to see a full-page Godvia chocolates ad in the middle of a story about poverty and hunger in Sub-Sahara Africa. When I encounter a remarketer I make a blood oath to myself never to buy the product or service, and I continuously click on their ads, opening them in new browser windows so I'm not distracted (I hope Google can't arrest me for saying that). But I must be an oddball. Marketers tell me that remarketing works.

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