From a marketing standpoint, the notion of re-targeting sounds excellent. Someone is surfing on your homepage and you bolster their viewing behaviour with a banner ad on other pages they move on to.

The conversion rates are so much higher now; your target audience is being given relevant advertising.

The consumer-package goods company Kimberly-Clark claims it’s seeing 50-60 percent conversion rates on retargetted ads. Re-targetting company Criteo says “The average click-through rate online for display ads is .07 percent and the average click-through for retargeted ads is about .7 percent.”

So, what could really go wrong? Well. Last week I just experienced what must be the biggest danger of re-targetting. We had some joke going on in the office about one of my colleagues wearing a mankini. In the end, we had to call up a photo of the ridiculous clothing item to just laugh in disgust at its ugliness. I opened the page and since then, every time I read news on the BBC, check the weather on the net or open my Facebook account, a photo of a mankini pops up in a banner ad beside me. I’m seeing mankinis on sale everywhere I go online.


It doesn’t look good. I don’t want to buy a mankini, Trust me, it wouldn’t look good on me either. But more than that, now it looks like I’m actually interested in mankinis. It’s offensive, annoying and embarassing. Those supposedly lovely conversion rates are now heightening my ill-will towards the company targeting me.

It’s not the first time either. I bought a pair of socks online last Christmas. The same company is still pounding me with ads, five months later. Socks are at least inoffensive products but I still don’t want to be flooded with advertisements for them. But another lesson has been learned. Don’t overdo it with your re-targetting efforts.

It all means that I’m concerned now about which pages I open on the net. It sort of bothers me because I know that if I open a webpage now, I’m likely to see adverts for that same website on the other websites I regularly open. The web experience has changed because of re-targeting and its changing my surfing patterns. I don’t think this was the intended affect.

Yes. You can empty your cache, erase histories but that’s a less-than-smooth web experience. Marketers. What are your thoughts on how far to go with re-targeting?

Stay tuned for our next post on the pros and cons of re-targetting.