Tuesday, December 8, 2015

Remarketing Overkill

Do you ever get the feeling that brands are stalking you? Like no matter where you go online, certain websites are following you? I've noticed this before, especially with travel or shopping sites, but the ads die down eventually.

Recently, one brand has been so relentless that I couldn't help but notice how unforgivingly present it is everywhere I go online. Narrative Clip is EVERYWHERE. I clicked on one of their sponsored ads on Facebook because I find the idea of personal surveillance interesting. However at a current price tag of over $200 it isn't something I'm ready to buy. I can remember going to the site only once but with the pervasiveness of the Narrative Clip ads that followed, I'm trying to recall if I maybe visited it maybe a million more times. In any case, ever since, the ads have trailed me all over the web and social.

I saw the ad many, many times before I started to take screen caps every time I saw it again. These were all taken within a few days:



Too much?

Remarketing is a common practice in digital advertising. The rationale stems from traditional media buying which recommends a minimum frequency required for an ad to reach saliency. We are less likely to remember an ad, or want to buy something it is selling, if we see it only once. But at, say, six to ten times later, you are much more likely to remember it and possibly even be ready to buy it.

Digital advertising has expounded on this thinking. A consumer who is exposed to an ad and doesn't click is may not be interested, whereas someone who clicks through to the website is hypothetically more keen on the brand or product. That said, one-time exposure to the content may not be enough to persuade him or her to sign up, buy, subscribe or register. However given their level of interest (versus someone who had never visited the site at all) exposing them to additional calls-to-action even after they leave the site might entice them to come back and ultimately convert.

Most of the media campaigns I've worked on that included remarketing as a tactic showed higher click-through rates for remarketed ads. So if someone had visited your website before, they are more likely to click, re-explore and convert. This leads to better efficiencies and happier agencies and clients.

Narrative Clip's remarketing efforts, on the other hand, seem extremely wasteful. I had already decided, based on the initial website review (and price point) that I was not going to buy. Yet continued to hit me at an illogically high rate and wasted media dollars. The case made me think of ways that marketers and end up mis-using remarketing.

Here are a few things they and other marketers can consider when creating and reviewing remarketing plans:
  • Remarket based on the customer's journey. Level of interest should dictate how much to remarket, if at all. Do you want to remarket to everyone who visits the site, or just those who click through to an inner page? Are there certain calls-to-action that register deeper interest, e.g. A "Buy Now" button? In Narrative Clip's case, I did scroll all the way down the page to see the price, but as that was what turned me off, may not be the right filter to gauge whether or not to remarket.
  • Remarket with alternative messaging. The same ad that drew a customer to the site is probably not be the best way to get them to re-examine the product. How about an offer? This doesn't have to be a price-off, and can even be an existing mechanic such as free shipping. Other slants can include press reviews, awards, testimonials, additional features.
  • Activate frequency capping. When a customer has seen the ad X times and not clicked, they are probably not interested!

When we have these remarketing conversations at work, I have to remind myself to park my consumer self who still finds this level of "stalking" quite unsettling. It is an accepted part of the landscape though and brands need to go easy on the new capabilities so as not to alarm consumers and freak them out unnecessarily.



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