She does a great job of laying out the basics of digital retargeting ads – with all the customary references to Big Data, Big Brother, and tracking cookies – “the younger, online sibling of big brother, watching our every move.” (The Economist aptly referred to these little bits of code as “Little Brother” in their series of articles on the topic.)
It’s important to realize that there are big differences between using retargeting ads in the e-commerce environment vs. the world of “considered” purchases.
Let’s start with e-commerce. If you’re shopping for shoes, you’ll likely buy them in the next few days. So the shoe retailers have absolutely nothing to lose by hitting you with retargeting ads on every website you visit over the coming days.
They might anger you a bit with these ads, but odds are “good enough” that they’ll get the sale. And yes, you know you’re being “stalked” by the advertiser, but you do need those shoes.
What about considered purchases? Those high-ticket consumer purchases like vacations, cars, real estate, etc.? Or relatively complex and expensive B2B products or services? Ones that require a lot of time to shop, evaluate, and discuss among your peers before you can make that buying decision? Here the buying cycle can take weeks, and often months.
For this category – which accounts for a significant portion of all commerce – when retargeting ads anger prospective buyers, it’s a real turn-off. Many upset buyers will deliberately avoid those brands they perceive as pestering them throughout their purchase cycle.
The key to effective retargeting for considered purchases: Frequency.
If you can reduce the frequency at which prospects see your retargeting ads, they will appear to be more naturally occurring. Instead of hitting prospects several times a day, show them your ad just a few times per week. And vary the content a bit.
This way, you stay front-of-mind and increase the odds they’ll buy your product/service – without turning them off.
In her article, Sally Herships quotes Eric Siegel, author of “Predictive Analytics: The Power to Predict Who Will Click, Buy, Lie, or Die” — who likens big data and it’s users to a “class of 15 year olds.”
“Some of them are super mature prodigies, and they’re doing extraordinarily well,” he says. “The rest of them are your standard 15 year olds who have so much potential, but they’re rough around the edges, so they may be doing things pretty effectively in order to get the grade, or in the case of online marketing in order to improve profit, potentially drastically. But it’s still kind of clumsy, kind of embarrassing, it’s kind of shameless.”
With the right strategy and tools, it’s more likely your retargeting will turn out to be one of those “prodigies” instead of the “wild, brash kid” who embarrasses your brand and hinders sales.